After tomorrow, Fluffy is going to a place called Summerland so I won’t have to walk her anymore. I never heard of Summerland, but I went to school yesterday and asked my Geography teacher, Mr. Billson, if he ever heard of it and he chuckled to himself and said Summerland wasn’t a place on a map, but a peaceful place old people go to when they get really sick to relax and feel better. Maybe that means it’s in outer space or something, because how could Fluffy be going somewhere that don’t exist on a map. That doesn’t make sense.
So, let me tell you about Fluffy. Fluffy has been in our house since the day I was born. Mommy and Daddy even told me so. They said Fluffy got a little bit jealous of me because Mommy and Daddy had to spend all their time feeding me, changing my diapers, and taking me to the doctor. Fluffy likes to play fetch, get her tummy rubbed, and go on long walks. She doesn’t like snow, so maybe she’ll really like Summerland, since there’d be no snow there.
She also really likes the dog parks where all these dogs stiff each other’s butts, but Daddy says that’s just how dogs say hi to each other. Then, they try to play a game where they jump over each other but they keep failing and then try to use their hips to keep jumping over but can’t, which is strange. Why not back up and try to jump over again? But Mommy and Daddy said they’ll explain it to me when I get older. Maybe they’ll explain where Summerland is too and how I can get there when it’s not on a map when I get older.
Fluffy also gets three meals a day, just like the rest of the family: one scoop of dog food for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for dinner. Once in a while Daddy gives Fluffy the fat from his meat. It’s white and Fluffy loves it. Daddy also put some extra fat in a baggie in the fridge for when Fluffy goes to Summerland, which’ll be in two days. Fluffy doesn’t like being in water so I hope there aren’t big oceans or pools in Summerland.
So, that night I get up a lot of courage and ask Mommy and Daddy how Fluffy is going to get to Summerland. They say that we’ll all go to the vet and the vet will give Fluffy a shot, and that’s how he’ll get to Summerland. I’ve never heard of anyone traveling anywhere by a shot. Maybe they mean Fluffy’ll be put in a canon ball like they used to have human canon balls and be shot into a net. Maybe that’s how Fluffy’ll get to Summerland. I’ve never seen a cannonball thing at the vet though. I’ve never seen Summerland though either.
But maybe Summerland is like a Disneyland for dogs. Maybe that’s it. When mommy and daddy took me to Disneyland, I got to go on all the fun kid’s roller coasters and scream and it was a lot of fun. So, maybe the vet has a secret Summerland playground for dogs where she can sniff around, play fetch, you know? Maybe. And maybe I could visit Fluffy in Summerland if she gets lonely or needs me to clean up after her. She’s been having a lot of accidents lately. But, I get some soap, water, and a paper towel and clean them all up. I wonder who’ll clean up after Fluffy in Summerland. Or maybe Summerland is outside so they won’t have to clean up after her. My parents, before I went to bed gave me a poem called, “Rainbow Bridge,” but I was too tired so I put it on my nightstand and said to myself I’d read it in the morning.
The next morning my alarm went off. Oh boy! Today is the day Fluffy is going to take a bridge at the vet’s office to go to Summerland. I wonder if Fluffy knows. I accidentally step in Fluffy’ll pee and have to clean it and my foot up. Silly dog. Then my daddy says something weird. He says that, the peeing in the house, is the main reason Fluffy has to go to Summerland.
So, is Summerland a punishment, like a time out? I’m confused. I scoop out Fluffy’s food and put it in his dog bowl.
“Come on, Fluffy, eat this. You’re going to Summerland today and I don’t know if they’ll have any food there” I say.
Fluffy looks at the food and looks at me and slowly eats her food. Her tale is between her legs. She finishes eating and I walk her. She goes potty outside too.
It’s 10:00 am and Fluffy’s appointment to go to Summerland is at 4:00 pm. I wonder if Fluffy will like Summerland. I watch some Barnie on the TV with Fluffy but Fluffy just curls up in a ball and snores. At 11:00, I do some homework and watch Fluffy sleep. She shakes and I think she’s having a nightmare so I wake her up. She walks to the kitchen and has another accident so I clean it up.
Now, it’s lunch time, though, so I give Fluffy her scoop to eat and I eat too. There are only four hours before Fluffy’s vacation. She’s going to have so much fun! But then I feel tired from eating so I decide to go get Fluffy and go to bed. Sometimes Fluffy pretends to be my teddy bear. So, I go to sleep and so does Fluffy. That way she’ll be awake when she gets to Summerland at the vet.
At 4 pm, my daddy wakes me. He said, “It’s time for Fluffy to go to the vet.” Daddy looks sad, though, almost like he’s going to cry. But Daddy’s are strong and only girls and Mommy’s cry. But why would Daddy cry? Summerland sounds like a fun place. There’s even a song about it: “Go to Summerland. Just the name on the map sounds like Heaven to me.”
So, Mommy, Daddy, me, and Fluffy go to the car. Daddy drives the car, Mommy’s in the side seat, I’m in the back, and Fluffy is in my lap. Fluffy is shaking in fear or because she’s cold. I don’t know which. So, I hug her real tight and say she’s just going to Summerland at the vet. Mommy starts to cry but stops herself.
We get there: to the vet, and there’s a pretend fire hydrant where dogs go pee. Fluffy has her leash on, and smells the hydrant and goes pee on the grass. Then, we walk in and Daddy talks to the receptionist and signs papers while Mommy and I wait for Fluffy to go to the Vet’s exam room. So, we wait, but then the receptionist calls us back and has us wait in a closed white room.
Fluffy’s still shaking so I hug and squeeze her and tell her she’ll soon be having fun in Summerland. Then the vet comes in with a needle filled with juice. He then says some weird things:
“Just so you know, I can reverse most procedures. If you get your dog fixed and decide later you want them to have pups, I can fix it, but this is final. I can’t undo this. Do you understand? And are you sure this is what you want?”
I don’t understand so I ask, “What do you mean? Why couldn’t she come back from Summerland?”
My mom and dad look at me with tender eyes.
“Honey, we need to explain what Summerland is. Summerland is the afterlife or what some call Heaven. Fluffy has been having a lot of accidents and is suffering from doggy dementia. We need to end her suffering and allow her to die.”
“But I thought . . . “
My daddy takes out the beef fat from his front right pocket, puts it in the palm of his hand, and sets it in front of Fluffy, but for once, Fluffy doesn’t eat it.
And then I cried and my mommy hugged me and tried to take me back to the waiting room.
“No, I want to be with Fluffy. She’s scared. She needs me to . . .”
Then she took me outside of the room.
“But,” I say.
Then I heard it. Loud, painful moans from inside the room where Fluffy was. She screamed over and over, loud. Moans of pain, terror, and agony. I cry hard and my mommy hugged me hard the way I hugged Fluffy. Then, there was silence and my daddy opened the door and told mommy and me it was over and we could come back in now. I saw the meat still on the table in front of Fluffy and I tried to shake Fluffy awake the way I did when she was snoring but she wouldn’t wake up. So, I cried and tried to hug Fluffy but Fluffy was cold and lifeless like a doll when its batteries ran out. I cried for three days. Sometimes I wish I was the one going to Summerland instead of Fluffy. Sometimes I still cry. Sometimes...