Dear doctor, do you have a favorite pet?
By Dr. Cheryl Burke
Clients ask me about my own pets all the time. Those who have known me for years remember the dog that left the largest hole in my heart and in my family’s world. The theme of this issue is “what my pet means to me” so now seems to be the right time to share some memories about Trapper. Like many families, dogs in our house are generational markers. Trapper, a German Short-haired Pointer came to our family when my boys were four and three years old. My husband is a hunter and enjoys working with a dog in the field. It creates a very special bond. Trapper was chosen to be our family dog and a hunting companion. He did both exceptionally well. Trapper would try to participate in everything that the boys would do. He would sneak into their beds, eat their lunch, chew their homework and swallow Beanie Babies whole (his first exploratory). A favorite memory is Trapper helping the boys catch lightning bugs on a warm summer night. He would catch the flying creatures and carefully give them to the boys for their jars. We always had more than one dog, usually 2 or 3. Trapper would help to train the next generations with patience and tolerance. As he aged we would catch ourselves talking about Trapper being the “Best” dog, always a mistake I think. On July 5, 2010, when we were out of town for a lacrosse camp, we found out our next puppy was born. We also learned that Trapper was sneezing blood. A workup that included blood tests and X-rays of his head revealed the sad truth that Trapper had an aggressive tumor in his sinus. Gentleman that he was, he told us when it was time to let him go. Gently and honorably, before my oldest left for college, we put our “Best” dog to sleep. At least my son would not learn of his dog’s passing when he was away at college. He was an important generational marker for us, bridging thirteen years in our family. Given the choice, we would choose that crazy puppy again.
Dr. Cheryl Burke