As many of you know, I often vent about our two dogs, Chase and Murphy. Since Murphy's arrival the household has been in a small state of shock with Murphy leading the way with Chase not too far behind but, given his age, behind nonetheless. Murphy arrived much in the same fashion as Chase did...as a surprise to the elder statesdog. In Chase's case this was Chia (her given name as we adopted her - we decided not to change it and confuse her. Turns out she was very smart and this would not have been a problem for her...no such luck with the current two). When we arrived with Chase that day back in June of 2004 Chia looked up as we walked in the door and upon seeing Chase her face said it all. "You've got to be kidding". Over the next four years Chase left Chia alone just enough that she did not harm him beyond repair. The first night without Chia saw Chase alone for the first time since he entered our house and he cried...until he figured out he now had the bigger bed all to himself. The crying stopped. Quickly.
When Murphy arrived about 15 months later Chase reacted like any Golden who had the run of the place to himself...with true glee. Chase was always a social dog even with no other dogs around. With a new playmate, Chase was even dopier and happier than before. But over time he started to show his age. He no longer won the fetch contests with Murphy and eventually he stopped trying. Time and age always catch up...always.
So it was Saturday that time made its decision known. The day started out normally with my wife telling me we needed to get one of the tires fixed on the small SUV. It had been leaking air and our efforts to fill it met with more leaks. We ran the car over to the dealer without an appointment and they went to work immediately. The weather was nice so we walked around the lot, were greeted by a nice young salesman and we talked cars for a few minutes. We went back inside and the car was not yet finished but we found the problem, a screw in the tire, not the tire we thought but still a problem that was now being fixed...slowly. Suddenly my wife was on the phone. It was our daughter Megan. She sounded concerned. Sue looked concerned. Megan was supposed to be at a friend's house and we were supposed to take her. The only problem...the car still wasn't ready. My wife spoke to the salesman we had spoken with and convinced him to let us use one of the cars we had sat in earlier and admired. He looked concerned but we were out the door and on our way before he could second guess himself. We picked up Megan at home and whisked her off to her appointment...then we ran two errands. We arrived back at the dealer, greeted the relieved salesman, picked up our car and after briefly asking about the price of the car... we left. At home I moved the giant SUV out of the driveway so there would be enough room to throw for the dogs. Only Murphy was game so I threw a few. Eventually Chase wandered out but he showed little interest in fetching the ball...As Murphy dropped another ball on the driveway I bent to pick it up and noticed a dark spot. I knelt down to make sure I was actually seeing what I thought I was seeing. There was no mistaking it. I had seen this before. The realization was a shock but also not totally unexpected. Having said that I was not totally ready for what I was about to face. Chase was oblivious...as if nothing was wrong. I called Sue over and showed her the spot on the driveway. After a brief discussion she acknowledged we had little choice. I jumped in the Giant SUV and Sue Followed in the smaller SUV. This was it.
Sometimes when the end arrives you just know what you have to do...and we knew. The spot on the driveway had sprung us into action. The Giant SUV had a mysterious oil leak and with 143,000 plus miles on it we had been wondering when we might turn it in. Suddenly today was the day. I arrived at the dealer and within an hour the Giant SUV was without a license plate and had a tag hanging from its' rear view mirror apologizing for its appearance as it was "a new arrival". Sue picked up Megan and now they were both with me as we handed over the keys and signed the papers for our "new" used smaller than the giant SUV we had just purchased...the same one we drove around town most of the day.
As I walked out I took one last look at the Giant SUV and for a second, my heart sank. This was the car that had given us 110,000 terrific family miles (we always buy used cars) full of trips to Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Connecticut and countless others. It was also my airport car, clanging the "No cars over 6-2 allowed" sign at the Philadelphia airport every time. It had taken me to Rhode Island, Upstate New York, even to and from West Virginia...as recently as one day earlier. It also had the distinction of being the car that I had taken Chia in when we had to put her down for good. Chase had never recovered from this and the first time I took him in it alone (without my wife) he was fairly certain, okay completely panicked that he was about to meet the same fate as the recently departed Chia. I was driving him to the park for a walk. But time had caught up to the Giant SUV and so we left it (after I hugged it goodbye), having made a good deal and having gotten more than our money's worth out of it.
As I pulled in the driveway Chase seemed most excited about the new car...it was not the scary one that took Chia away. Tonight I arrived in West Virginia and as I walked from the parking lot I looked back at the "new SUV". It had performed well...and it had room for the dogs.