Mister was swallowing his tongue with his convulsions. I was beside myself with hysterics. Bobby opened Mister’s mouth, stuck his hand into his mouth and pulled his tongue out. Mister started breathing again. But, the convulsions were continuing due to the snake venom which was slowly ravaging his body. We didn’t have money for a veterinarian. But, Bobby’s Mother said she had called the only veterinarian she knew (this was 1961 and veterinarians were scarce) and he agreed to see Mister. Bobby’s mother had a car, which once again, was unusual for that era. We probably ran as many red-lights as Bobby’s mother had ever ran in her entire life on the way to the veterinarian. We were ushered into a back room and I tried to patiently wait. Mister was shaking uncontrollably. The veterinarian finally came into the room. There wasn’t much in the way for testing such as x-rays or anything of that nature. They gave Mister a shot of something and that stopped the shaking. “I am afraid his internal organs are shutting down, son. That is why he is shaking so much. That copperhead must have given him a full dose. I’ll wait on the blood results. But, I don’t think there is much we can do for him,” Said the veterinarian.
I felt like I had been struck by lightning. It had been such a beautiful day. We were all having fun, exploring and just being kids with a dog. A dog who was dying before my eyes. Mister was my hero so many times. He jumped the fence from our house once to attack a boy who pushed me down at the bus-stop. I never did figure out how he got over that 6 foot chain-link fence. But, Mister did it. Mister was always there for us. And, now, here he lays dying as his kidneys had shutdown and his lungs were in the process of shutting down. It was a copperhead snake that caused this. The snake was just defending himself as he attempted to attack me. Mister was just being himself in protecting me as he had so many times. It was just a moment of fate for all of us; two boys, a dog and a snake. I have been devastated many other times in my life over the loss of a loved one. But, the loss of Mister, at the time, was the worst I had ever felt. Even now, just thinking of it, brings me great sadness.
Mister had regained consciousness. He was looking at me and was attempting to wag his tail. It was like he was saying, “Everything is going to be okay. You’ll grow up and forget all about me. You just need to move on, my friend.” I never forgot Mister. I never will forget him. The veterinarian said we should put Mister down. I strenuously fought against that idea. But, I was told by the veterinarian that Mister was now suffering and he was gasping for every breath. I did not want Mister to suffer. I loved him. I loved Mister with all my heart. I finally gave my consent to put Mister down. The veterinarian said we would have to leave the room since state of Alabama policy was that only the veterinarian and an assistant could be present for the procedure to put down Mister. I told him I will not leave my friend under any conditions. He never left me during the worst times of my young life. I was staying with my best friend as his life ends. The veterinarian just looked at me and said, “Okay, I understand, son.” No, I don’t think he did understand.
I was given a moment with Mister. I told him how much I loved him for the past few years. How much he meant to me and that I would always remember him. Mister looked at me, licked my hands and managed a slight wiggle of his tail. I thanked him for being my friend. I thanked him for being there for me when I needed him most. I held Mister’s paws as the drug entered his body putting an end to his life. As I closed Mister’s eyes, I petted him one last time before carrying my best friend out of that place and into eternity.
I have had other dogs since Mister. But, there is not one that has held such a special place in my heart as Mister did and does even now. I don’t know if it is true that “All Dogs Go To Heaven” as the title of the story goes. But, if it is true, I have no doubt Mister is there now. God Willing, I will slip through the Pearly Gates and I will see my old friend, running toward me, rope dragging behind him, ears flopping with each effort running and attacking me with licks and slobber all over me. Maybe, just maybe he will be able to say, “I’ve missed you old friend. Let’s go home.”