When I walked in with my 5, I was surprised to see a knot of people in the back room. The door was open. The vet still had her coat on. And I could see they were performing CPR on a large Rottie. The tech came out and apologized for the fact that I'd have to wait. No problem. Do what you have to do, I said. I can wait all day. They left the door open. Beckett stood and watched it all intently, never taking his eyes off the back room. Finally, a guy in sweats came out and told me what was going on. He'd been jogging through the parking lot when he heard a man he had just passed cry out, "Oh, no, Charlie." And then, "Help, I think he's dead."
This man had called in on his car phone to tell the clinic he was bringing in his 2 year old Rottie, Charlie. Charlie had been vomitting last night, and this morning was unable to get up and appeared to be very sick. He loaded him in the car, calling the clinic on the way there. He got there as the tech was opening up, and left Charlie in the car until the vet arrived, since Charlie weighed 150 pounds, and he wanted a gurney to get him in. As the vet arrived, the guy went back out to the car to check on the dog, as the vet and the tech prepared to follow him out with the gurney. That's when he found Charlie apparently dead, and the jogger turned back to help them.
When they got Charlie inside, moments before I got there with my gang, they found a faint heart beat and attempted to revive him. The jogger came out to talk to me just as they were giving up, after about 20 minutes of CPR.
Meanwhile, Beckett never took his eyes off the goings-on in the back room. The rest of the gang were lying down or milling around, but Beckett was like a statue watching that back room. We had a clear view of everything, and he was watching it all. He watched as they rolled the gurney out to us, and out the door. He watched as they loaded Charlie's body back into the car. He watched as the group of people came back inside. The owner sat down in the chair next to me and put his head in his hands and sobbed. Beckett watched. And watched. After about a minute, Beckett quietly moved around the rest of my gang, and walked over to the man, and very slowly slid his head under the man's hands and hid his face in the man's lap. And then just stood there. That's when the vet and the tech and I looked at each other and all lost it at the same moment.
Then the man lifted his head and looked down at Beckett, who still had his face hidden against the man's belly, and was still standing there as quiet as a statue. The man spread his hands and sat looking down at the back of Beckett's neck, somewhat bewildered, and then he looked up at us, with his hands still spread, as if to say, "What's this?" Then Beckett looked up at him, and kissed his face, and the man threw his arms around Beckett and hid his face against Beckett's neck and cried for about another minute.
Then he stood up, wiped his arm over his face, gave us a little sad, smile, and walked out. No one said anything. Beckett walked over to the door and watched him leave, then he turned back to me, licked my face once, and laid down on the floor next to my chair.
The vet, the tech and I just sort of looked at one another, and then began to weigh the dogs and get on with things. None of us mentioned what had just occurred until later, when the vet finished drawing Beckett's blood. She was kneeling next to him on the floor and when she finished, she put her arm around him, and looked up at me and said, "What a wonderful dog - he just took care of all of us, didn't he?"
"Yes," I said, "He's something special. I think I'll keep him."
And I think I will.
They still don't know what Charlie died from. I feel very sad that such a beautiful young dog died so suddenly, and that nothing could be done to save him. Maybe from his spot at the Rainbow Bridge Charlie saw the small act of kindness that Beckett offered to his owner, and when Beckett makes his own passage to the Bridge, there will be a big, happy, beautiful Rottie there among the dogs from Magi who will be waiting to greet him.