The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Weight: 9.6 oz
Method of Disposal: Not sure, but I want it gone.
On August 16, 2010 I stayed up late reading the ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN while my baby foster kitten ran up and down the couch. Phoenix, my old man, laid beside me and would give the kitten a sniff from time to time that would cause her to blow up into the tiniest little poof ball. Phoenix’s tail was wagging, and he was given a good pet. The next morning I woke up, left the house to go to work telling Phoenix my usual, “Don’t worry, I will be back. I don’t want to leave either.” I got off work an hour early. I stopped by Walgreens for a totally unnecessary soda and then went home. I opened the door. Phoenix was lying crumpled and dead on the floor by the window. I started yelling at him to get up and fell over the items that blocked my way to him. The consensus is that it was probably a heart attack.
I adopted Phoenix from a local animal control around 11 years ago, and they guessed his age to be two years old. He was a big, scared, black dog with snot hanging down to the floor. It was raining that day, and he was scared to get into our car. They thought he might die since he was so sick, but he recovered. His shelter name was Sprocket and, because I was in 9th grade and he had overcome so much, I named him Phoenix. Later, he would also be known as Fiend, P-Beast, and Feenie.
In his early years, he would bolt out the front door if anyone attempted to open it. He would run straight into children, knocking them over, and then walk away without a second thought about it. He was always terrified of thunderstorms. He was also my best friend, despite the fact that I was a teenager and had trouble showing it. He was there when I broke up with my first love, and he was there for all the trying times I have had since then. He met everyone who was important to me, and he impressed almost everyone he came into contact with. In his older years friends of mine would proclaim that they wished he was their dog or that they wanted a dog just like him. We would use him to socialize other pets that were more timid, and he helped Vallan and I foster ten or more other beasts. He moved 5 + times to new houses and neighborhoods, but he always took it in stride. New smells, new people, new friends. He was cared for by Vallan, my mother, my grandmother, and myself. Every one took care of him in different ways, and he loved all of them. He ended up being the best-behaved dog I have ever had the privilege of calling my family member.
Phoenix was a traveling dog. He loved car rides. He had the opportunity to go cross-country several times, and he was also able to live with my mom on top of a mountain in New Mexico. He never cared for swimming or baths, much to my dismay. He was so afraid of water I am surprised he ever drank any out of the bowl. He did like to lick the water off my ankles when I got out of the shower, and I always hated it, but I would let him, thinking I would miss it one day. I do.
The night before my best friend died, I was reading a book from the perspective of a dog about his love for his owner and his own dying. The book was sometimes trite, and it was often way too human-centric—mostly man-centric. The women characters left a lot to be desired, and the man was the ideal life form. I really don’t care about all that right now though. The book did make me cry often, and I did read it fast. It was good and, for some, I think it would be comforting. I had no idea I would lose Phoenix so soon after reading it and now I want it out of my life. It is not the book’s fault, but it has to go.
Good Bye Fiend Man, I will always love, respect, and cherish you. 1997-2010.