(Note: This post originally appeared on the now defunct craigtsoandso.com. Datestamped footnotes with commentary may have been added for my own reflection and amusement.)
Today sucks. I’m not going to rhapsodize about Peyton Manning’s time in Indianapolis, or angrily vent or try to be the voice of reason, or wonder why we care so much about a silly thing like sports here, although I have been doing all of those things since the writing on the wall became a reality last night. I’ll leave that for other people.
I want to talk my about old family dog.
T.J. was a black lab. We got him from a pet store (we didn’t know better at the time) when I was very young, before my younger brother was born. I remember he was tiny when we got him, but that didn’t last long. He was an outstanding dog- super energetic, gentle with little kids, and was PUT ON THIS EARTH to go get a ball or a stick that anyone threw for him. He chewed up a bunch of basement furniture, but those are the breaks with a lab puppy.
As the years passed and T.J. got older, my family went through a bit of a rough patch. I don’t remember the exact circumstances but my Dad’s business had fallen on hard times or was already gone, and he wasn’t able to be home much. My sister and I had lots of extracurricular activities, my brother was still a very young kid, and my Mom had to make sure everybody was taken care of plus do her job. We weren’t able to take the dog down to the park and let him off the leash or walk him as much, and he wasn’t getting enough exercise- he was still a great dog and we loved him, but we weren’t able to give him everything he needed.
Eventually, we had to make a hard decision. My Mom’s coworker and friend lived out on a huge piece of property and had a big pack of dogs that got to roam around it freely, and she offered to take care of him. When we first took him out there, he sprinted in big wide circles for a full 20 minutes, and he was ecstatic to be around other dogs. After lots of deliberation, we took him back and this time left without him.
T.J. lived several more years on that farm, happy. We visited many times, and being there was the best thing for him, even though it hurt to leave him there. A year or two after he died we were able to get another dog (I named him Reggie after some other athlete) from the humane society and give him all the attention he deserved. Letting my dog go live on that farm was the right move thanks to a series of bad external circumstances, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t cry over it. I missed my dog, damn it. Still do.
It may seem ridiculous, but I’m feeling a very similar string of emotions today1. Godspeed 18.
The whole event really was the impetus for reexamining why I care so much about sports, and then realizing I don’t really. I love going to games and watching sports, but I really have let go of a lot of the obsession. It also hasn’t hurt that ESPN has attempting to Skip Bayless their way to ruining everyone’s enjoyment of sports. Thankfully they also let Grantland and now 538 do their own thing. (08/2013) ↩