The Colaberator

Published 10:49 am Friday, January 13, 2012

Editor’s note: This column is a fictional story Lennie Rizzo wrote as a compilation of many of the sad situations he has been faced with in his efforts. This story also ran in the Landrum Leader, but Uncle Lennie asked that we share it with our readers as well.
Old man Joe and I lived in a nice quiet house on the top of a hill.  We were the best of friends ever since he brought me home from the shelter as a puppy, four years ago. I’ve been told that my mom was a Chocolate Lab and my dad was a Collie, so Joe named me Colaberator but everyone calls me Cola.
Joe used to say I was his protection but I used to say the same about him. I loved everything about Joe, especially his laugh which somehow used to fill me up with pride.  It all began when he started teaching me things: “sit Cola, shake hands, roll over, go fetch.” Each time I obeyed his commands he would let out this wonderful laugh. Every morning after our walk Joe would sit in his favorite chair with a cup of coffee and read from a large black book.  It was the only time during the day he totally tuned me out.  He said he was reading about his very best friend, which I thought I was.  Still I’d like to meet this friend of his one day, if Joe loved him I bet I would too.  When Joe read too long I would bring him my favorite toy and then go through the repertoire of all the tricks he taught me. Joe would put the book down and let out that beautiful laugh that filled me with pride. “Okay Cola, I guess you earned a treat.”
My next favorite thing was when the grand kids came to visit. They would spend the whole day hugging me, playing with me and climbing all over me and I loved every minute of it.  They would give me treats all day long as I did my tricks and I even invented a few new ones just for them.
“Don’t give him too many,” Joe would say but he didn’t mean it, cause he just laughed when they slipped me another one.
A few months ago I noticed that our morning walks were getting shorter and Joe was spending a lot more time reading about his best friend.  Then one morning Joe would not get out of bed no matter how much I coaxed him.  That afternoon the grand kids mom came in with a whole bunch of strange people.  She was crying as she took me in her arms, “Don’t worry Cola, pop is going to see his very best friend.”
“Can’t I go too,” I thought.  “The kids would love to have you,” she said, “but I just don’t have the time, money or the proper facilities for you.”
They carried Joe away that night and the next morning the kid’s dad came over with the grand kids. I only met him a few times but I liked him, he smelled a lot like Joe.  He was wearing his Army uniform and everyone was hugging him and crying.  No one played with me but that’s okay, everything just felt different and I wasn’t in the mood anyway. Then the kids’ dad hooked up my leash and took me for a walk.
“Pop’s gone big fella but he told me about a good friend of his that I should call in case anything happened to him.  You were the best thing he had at the end of his life, thank you, so I know he’s put you in good hands.”
He knelt down, wrapped his arms around me and wept.  I didn’t know what to do, so I instinctively licked his face.
“Everyone calls him Uncle Lennie,” he went on, “and he promised he’d find you a good home.”
A short while later a man drove up and came into the house and after everyone hugged and cried some more, he put me in his car.  Somehow I remembered Uncle Lennie’s sound and smell, I think from when I was a pup.  As we drove away he kept speaking softly to me and rubbing my ears.  I was a bit confused but somehow I felt safe.
“I promised Joe I’d find you a good home,” he said soothingly, “and I always keep my promises.”
I remember when Joe told me that his best friend had a house for him and he prayed that one day there’ll be room in it for me.  In the meantime, I hope this new home has grand kids.

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