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  • Writer's pictureJason E. Fort

A 'Tail' of Two Brothers

We're not sure how they arrived in this world. We were never told how many brothers or sisters they had...

but we know they were brothers. And brothers they will remain. The picture above doesn't even do them justice, though it is precious. But I wanted to narrate a story about the two boys, as THIS family saw it.

It all started with the man of the house, not wanting to have animals in the home. But a determined wife and son announced one day, the perfect little sob story about how this one owner couldn't take care of her 'cavaliers' (that is what these brothers were - Cavalier King Charles Spaniels) because her kids were moving out of the home, and neither she nor her husband could give them the time and care the sweet dogs deserved. The husband went along to see the dogs, with the understanding that if he didn't like what he saw, they might not be coming home - or, if they were coming home, he would have nothing to do with cleaning up after them... because it wasn't his idea.

Upon arrival, all the husband's reservations went away in a cloud of dust and fur, as the family met these two little brothers, wagging their tails like little white surrender flags, skittering about everyone's feet, full of excitement. Although their diminutive little fur bodies that resembled dust mops were quite the sight, nothing stirred a person's emotions of appreciation like these two brothers' eyes. They both had the biggest, sweetest puppy dog eyes that made anyone want to pick either one of the boys up and hug them tight. Even the grumpy husband, who was never sold on the idea up until he met the two pups, became a different person in the presence of the brothers. And so Toby and Cooper found a new family, and were taken to their new home.

But that's just how this story started.

I could tell you about how the little pup brothers ran around the home, jumping up on furniture in the beginning (even the fat pup, Cooper, could jump back then), climbing up to the highest point to sit, perched up on the edges of couches and chairs as if they were house cats. I could tell you about how the little one, Toby, was accidentally almost crushed to death by the foot of one grumpy man of the house as he had just been fussing about how the little dogs scampered around his feet while doing laundry, only to trip over the fat pup and land all his crushing weight onto the little one as he tried to escape the small laundry room. I could tell you how that amazing little victimized pup named Toby had a full recovery and somehow developed what we called his bionic leg after surgery (many dollars later), able to leap higher than ever before.

I could tell you about the time that the fat pup named Cooper got excited when he saw his little brother already outside in the backyard, playing inside the fenced in yard. He got so excited, that he didn't care about the screen door that was closed; he barreled straight through it like a little furry, black bowling ball, leaving a giant rip in the screen door. Yours truly looked over the banister from upstairs to see what all the fuss was about, only to see the aftermath and chaos that lay in fat Cooper's wake... the hole in the screen. I could tell you about the couple of times the little dogs attempted what we called 'jail breaks', hustling out the front door for some desperate run to freedom, not exactly knowing how they might handle that newfound freedom. They never got real far, but it was still hilarious every time they tried. Or I could tell you about the few times I attempted to take fat Cooper on a walk. He would go for twenty yards or so, and then sit his fanny down and refuse to walk any further. I could tell you all sorts of memories about the two brothers.

But the memories aren't the best part. They're not the most poignant part of the tale. The best part of this story, is about an intangible bond that made these brothers closer than most. These boys sometimes ate meals together, and sometimes ate them in different rooms in the house. They even ate at different times on occasion. They competed with one another over snacks before the arrival of two other furry companions that would arrive in the household later. Sometimes little Toby wanted to perch up high while Cooper wanted to lounge around and spread out on the floor. But there was one thing these two brothers knew about this household as long as they were in it; they were in it together. Whether they pursued a red laser dot around the house at the same time, or raced towards frozen green beans strewn about the kitchen floor, they did it together. They never knew this house, this home, without the other brother in it. So when a day came down the road; one sad day when the family as a whole decided the congestive heart failure was just too unbearable for a suffering little Toby...

little fat Cooper didn't know how to go on through life in the home without his brother.

A family came home to a house with two rescue mutts, a mother and wife, a father and husband, a son and adoptive human brother, and a little fat Cooper... but no Toby. Never before had a little dog gone downhill in health faster. Although his weight had been a problem most of his little canine life, once he arrived in a home without his brother, he gave up on trying. He stopped walking around the house. He totally stopped ascending and descending the stairs. He found it way too difficult to get up and do his business. Going outside and then coming back in past that one steep step had just become too much for poor little Cooper. He didn't act like it at the emergency vet, right after the sad event of losing poor Toby. But nothing prepared the little fur ball named Cooper, for that void in the home.

So it was that a mere twelve days later, that the family decided once again, suffering could not be allowed to last. Other than the somewhat enthusiastic head raise for a small plate of sausage for his last meal, little Cooper had a hard time being happy about anything. Long gone were the little white flags waving behind two little dust mops full of joy. Gone were the days of hearing the tiny little claws skittering across the hallway to welcome home Mommy or Daddy or their Jaybird. We watched little fat Cooper lay in my lap, and take some last little breaths and close his eyes peacefully. There I was, the supposed man of the house, crying crocodile tears just as big as my wife's and my son's, because our little buddy was gone. So was his brother. So was some of the irreplaceable joy that came from two small voids in the home, that could never be filled again. Not in the same way...not by the same little cavaliers.

The two brothers left an indelible mark on our family. They made their messes. They made their noises. They made their impressions (we even have little paw impressions in plaster to always remember them). They made us laugh. They recently made us cry. They made us panic. They made us pay bills. They made us pay attention to them; kind of hard to ignore little barking dogs that want you to drop what you're doing and give them food or let them outside. They made their sisters, the rescues, jealous. They made us pay attention to where we stepped, for sure. They made our house a happier place to visit for anyone that came over. Most importantly, they made our house, their home.

It's hard for this big lug to type these words, even now. Tears burst forth just thinking about the finality of it all.

But who knows? Maybe one of the things the good Lord blesses His people with one day in Heaven, since our furry friends are such precious examples of joy...

will be a chance to see the two brothers again, waving their little white flags for tails.

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