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My Last Puppy
I'm terminally ill, and I need a puppy," an old man's voice said over Jay's
telephone. "Cathy, at Pekay Kennels in Georgia, said you just had a litter of
"Ah . . . Ah," Jay mouthed. "Who is this?"
"I'm David Isaiah. I'm dying from cancer, and got some things to finish up. I
need a puppy for the kids. I told `em I'd get `em a puppy."
"All my puppies are already promised," Jay blurted truthfully.
"Well, free one up. They can wait. I can't!"
"Give me your number; I'll call ya right back." And Jay called a young couple to
break a puppy reservation because David Isaiah's need was greater than theirs.
"I'm nervous," Robin, Jay's wife, said, as she put out a bowl of fruit on the
coffee table. "I've only seen dying people in hospitals."
"If he falls down we put him on the couch and call 911," Jay said, because he
saw an expensive car, probably David's automobile, come up the driveway.
David was a tall man, thin and stooped over. His wife was considerably younger,
and Jay guessed she was his second wife. David's eyes were sunken and dull, with
dark brown rings; Jay assumed from medication. And his cheeks and ears were
droopy, like an old dachshund. But David Isaiah still carried himself with a
proud demeanor, and Jay got a steady and firm handshake.
"I'm David Isaiah; I need a puppy." Then he added excitedly, "And in a hurry
"Come and sit on the couch, and we'll show you the puppy we have for you. Would
you like a cup of tea?" Robin offered.
Jay went to the puppy pen to pick up a little guy and Julie, the mother, got up
to leave at the same time, so Jay opened the gate for her. Then the other
puppies jumped up and rushed the open gate, while Jay had his hands full.
Julie was halfway across the den, toward the couch, to meet the new guests. And
Julie's puppy brigade, nine little rotund Buddha-bellies, white as polar bears,
spread out to charge across the floor, yapping, galloping, onward, onward, like
the English Lancers at Balaclava.
David Isaiah's tired eyes went wide, and Jay closed his own. Oh no, Jay thought.
When the puppies arrived they jumped up on David, trashing his beige cotton
slacks. One little guy got his front paws up to David's belt. Jay saw what
looked like, might have been a dressing or colostomy bag under the old man's
clothes. David's wife was concerned and tried to brush the puppies off. Robin
came from the kitchen. Jay finally got his wits about him, and also hurried to
David Isaiah laughed heartily, and threw his arms up in the air with glee, as
Julie's puppy brigade tried to climb up on him. "This is great," he said
joyously, reveling in the exuberance of life's energy that flowed to him from
the puppies. "This is fantastic!" David pulled the alpha, the leader, up and
cradled him in his arms. "This little guy knows what it takes to get ahead in
When David left with his puppy he smiled, and told Jay, "My last puppy. Good
David Isaiah died two weeks afterward and his passing affected Jay because the
man accepted death without a need for a last bitter battle, not to say that he
didn't have fear and apprehension. But David Isaiah must have died with few
regrets, and maybe that made his passage easier.
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