I have experienced some very painful and difficult times in my long life. My ex was a verbally abusive alcoholic that abandoned me and his two teenage sons. I had no money, no job, no home, and no car. If Wayne, a friend hadn’t stepped in to help, I’m not sure where we would have ended up. As it was, I had to put my baby Donna down. Donna was a pure-bred Rottweiler born and bred in Germany. I’m not a dog person, but my ex Jim brought her home from Germany and handed her to me saying she was mine.
As Germans breed their dogs to be a bit more aggressive than American bred Rotties, I enrolled her first thing in obedience classes where we spent the next six weeks battling for dominance. The class had more fun watching the battle between me and Donna then they did training their own puppies.
The lesson was to teach her to sit. I would say sit and she was supposed to sit, however, if she didn’t then I was to gently say “Sit” and then push her butt down into a sit position. Except, the little monster didn’t sit when I told her too, and then growled at me when I pushed her butt down. Of course, that pissed me off and I would grab the scruff of her neck and looked directly into her eyes saying “Don’t you growl at me, little Missy.” That’s pretty much how the next six weeks went. The instructor told me she was an alpha female (Like I really needed to be told that)
It was during advanced obedience training that Donna and I really bonded. Where in the beginning classes I had to fight with her to follow my commands, in the advance classes she immediately obeyed the commands. Then her butt would wiggle excitedly waiting for me to command her to he heel. I barely got the command out before she literally ran to my side. It was obvious to everyone she loved me, and I had to admit I grew to lover her as well. She was my baby.
When Jim abandoned his family, Donna was six years old. We had to move to an apartment complex and at that time Rottweilers were considered an aggressive breed and the complex was too scared of her breed to let me move in with her. I contacted the Rottweiler rescue group, but they informed me that it would be better to put her down. She was at an age where she only had one master and that was me. Donna would grieve herself sick with another owner, and with great regret told me my most humane option was to put her down.
It tore me apart to take Donna to the vets, but I did, and I explained the situation to them, and they were very understanding and compassionate. So, we took her into the examining room and when they gave her the shot, I held her to the very end.
I didn’t cry when Jim left. I didn’t cry when Jim called me names. I didn’t cry when we had to sell everything so we had money to move, but I cried holding Donna. It was like a dam had broken and I cried and cried holding my baby. The vet and his assistants were great about letting me take the time I needed to deal with the grief and even apologized that they had to charge me. I was there holding Donna and damning Jim crying for almost an hour, before I regained control of my emotions. I thought that was the worst experience anyone could suffer through, but I was wrong.
Regret is the worst experience anyone could suffer. I’m writing this article immediately after attending a candle-light vigil for a friend who was shot and killed outside of his business. A 21-year-old man came into Ray’s store in Glendale, AZ and was harassing the employees. Ray advised the young man that his behavior wasn't acceptable within their store and proceeded to escort the young man from the store.
Like every other work night, at 6pm, Ray closed the store and escorted an employee outside to her car when she realized she forgot her keys. Leaving Ray outside in their parking area, she went back inside the store, retrieved her keys and was headed back outside when she heard two shots. The young man had returned with a gun this time and shot Ray. He was only fifty-three years old.
I considered myself a friend to Ray and Dave. I worked for them for two years, joined them for breakfast a couple times and attended their parties. Yet, when I moved to Tucson three years ago, I had stopped going to Glendale. I commented on their Facebook posts as a way to stay in touch, but when I went to the vigil to pay my respects to a man I thought of as a friend, I learned I hadn’t been a real friend. Robbi, a very sweet lady told me about how Ray and Dave met. I didn’t know that.
Dave and Ray went to Salt River with people, attended parties and even had dinner parties at their home. I never attended these outings, I was invited, but I always made excuses for not taking the two-hour trip up to Glendale and now a good man I would have love knowing better is dead.
Genuflecting on the last three years, I realized I never went back up to Glendale except maybe once when I attended a fair with them, but I never went back to their store. I never accepted any of their invitations for the Halloween and Christmas parties. I didn’t help them move into their new home or volunteer to come up from Tucson to help them move.
I never saw Dave and Ray in person again. Then I hear that this sweet sweet man, Ray was shot and killed outside his business and guilt just floods my heart with regrets. I should have made the effort to drive to Glendale. I should have been a real friend to these wonderful men.
You always hear that ole cliche’ time is short, but time really is short. One moment life is going swimmingly wonderful and the next minute a good man is dead.
Do not let regret keep you from loving the people around you, because one day when their light has been extinguished, it will be you that is left alone in the darkness.