Earlier this year I wrote about Nike, a poor puppy who arrived at the Bridge after being caught in a flash flood in Arizona. The flood spilled into his house and pulled him out the doggy door where he drowned. The completely foolish way Nike passed to the Bridge caused me to rail against the Big Guy. The stupidity of it all. A little dog dying during a flood in the desert. Unbelievable!
Just last week I gave an update on Nike. She was running with Greta, another young pup, keeping her company through the fields and meadows, laughing all the way. And with that I vowed never to write about Nike’s unfortunate passing again.
Until this week when Nike’s Mom posted a blog on her Doggyspace page stating that her account had been hacked and that everyone in her pack, including Nike, was fine. Meaning that when I posted about her being swept away in a flood I was wrooo, I was wroooo, I was not completely right.
But worse than that was who I found sitting in my living room this morning. It was the Big Guy. “Foley, do you remember that dog Nike who supposedly drowned in a flood in Arizona?” I barely nodded. “Do you remember blaming me for it and telling me you thought it sucked?” I nodded. “Is that what happened?” I shook my head. “Do you know what happened?’ I shook my head again. “Do you think you should find out what happened?” I nodded again. “That’s good,” he said rising, “because, like you said to me, I think it sucks.”
I went to the field where I knew Greta and this dog not named Nike were playing. I whistled for them and they both came running over. I gave Greta a treat and told her to keep playing in the field and then asked Not-Nike to sit down next to me. We started with small talk and then I asked her about her passing and she repeated her story. Then I told her what I knew, that she had lied about who she was, taking the identity of a living dog.
Not-Nike shifted uncomfortably on the ground. “You’re right, I lied. I am not Nike. I’m really not any dog,” she said softly. “I was born in a shelter and I was put up for adoption. No one claimed me and I was put down. I never knew love in my life, never knew companionship, and I wanted to be someone.”
She took another big sigh. “While I was in the shelter I heard rumor of Judge Foley Monster who swore in dogs who came to the Bridge and wrote wonderful stories about them being heroes, and while I was no one’s hero on the mortal side of the Bridge I thought I could be on the immortal side.” She told me she would leave her friend Greta and this spot on the Bridge and find some place to live on the immortal side as she did on the mortal side, alone and unnoticed.
A small tear ran down Not-Nike’s face. I put my paw on her shoulder and I told her I understood why she did what she did, and for her to remember that every dog, even if they have never been loved by a human, is a hero. Then I rechristened her Athena, who, in mythology was Nike’s sister. I told her to go running with Greta, that she would still be welcome at Tommy’s mansion and Otie’s drug store, and that she would never be alone again. She is one of us, as are all dogs.
I watched Athena run off and begin to play with Greta again, and I made a note to check with any pup parents who crosses the River of Life and ask them if they would like to give an immortal dog the love she never got in her mortal life. I was feeling pretty good about myself when I got back home and found the Big Guy sitting in my chair.
He asked me if I had talked with Not-Nike who was now Athena and I said yes. Then he asked me for her story and I told it, and then told him my decision.
He smiled at me. “So you forgave this Not-Nike Athena dog?” The Big Guy asked. I told him I had.
“Wow, to be forgiven by Judge Foley Monster,” the Big Guy said rising. “I’ve never experienced that before,” he said as he glided out of the room.
But I wasn’t going to let it bother me. I headed back to the fields to run with Greta and my new friend Athena.
No matter what their name every dog is a hero.