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opinion columns
by Richard Harris

From the May 27, 2020 issue of The Journal
   As I put this week's issue of The Journal together something is missing. For the last 14 years (or the last 730 or so newspapers), I've had a trusty sidekick keeping me company.
   For most of those years he stretched out on a small pad two feet from my desk, occasionally getting up to greet visitors or to request a dog biscuit.
   Lately, he's been on the floor instead of the pad, which was his way of protesting the fact that a cat had joined the staff. While it often wanted to snuggle, he wanted absolutely nothing to do with it and chose the hard floor over sharing the soft pad with the irritating interloper.
   We lost Krypto (the Super Dog Harris) last Saturday. He had slowed down considerably over the past few years, but still enjoyed life while enduring my laughter at his occasional old dog mishaps. Those included overestimating his ability to still be able to jump into his favorite chair without help, or being scared when someone suddenly appeared from behind – his usual keen K9 hearing long gone.
   However, his condition deteriorated rapidly over his last few days and we had to make the painful decision to value his needs over our desire to hang on. My son and I dug his grave and then we all said our goodbyes late Saturday afternoon while awaiting the arrival of Dr. Rudy Killingsworth, who graciously made a visit so I wouldn't have to pull a trigger.
   I did that for our previous dog, Sandi, who had been with us for 15 years. I knew it was the humane thing to do, but it affected me more than I thought it would. I was physically sick days afterwards; so I was very thankful for the assistance this time.
   It's amazing how close we get to our animals, who become family members. On the day he died we ate supper a couple hours after burying him. Then, out of habit, we all began to sit our plates on the floor for him to perform his ritual of pre-cleaning them before they hit the dishwasher. (Yes, if you've broken bread with the Harris Family there is a 99.9% chance you ate off of a plate previously licked by a dog.)
   I'll never forget the day Krypto came into our lives. We already had a grown dog (Sandi), but as I stood at my dad's pond and looked to my right, I saw Danny Singleton walking toward the pond with a trail of Cocker Spaniel puppies on his tail. I turned and looked in the eyes of my wife and 5-year-old son and I instantly knew our family was about to get one creature larger.
   I protested, but already knew I'd lose the argument.
   It took a while for Krypto and I to gel. He had more of a stubborn streak than any dog I'd had before and could be downright defiant. I would tell him "no" and could tell he knew what I said, but he'd look at whatever it was he wanted to do, look back at me (repeat a couple of times) and eventually decide to do what he wanted.
   His thought process went something like this: "I'm not supposed to kill chickens, but I like killing chickens. I know I'm gonna get spanked, but dang I love chasing chickens. My family says I shouldn't do it, but it's so much fun when those feathers start flying. No, I'm going to be a good boy and just stand here. I'm not going to kill that chicken. Oh, who am I kidding? That chicken's a dead bird walking."
   It's been said that "all dogs go to Heaven." I don't know about chickens, but if y'all see some feathers mysteriously start to fall from the sky, you'll have the answer to that question.