At an age I was too young to remember, we got a dog. That poor Cocker Spaniel began its life with a terrible burden, its name. For the naming, our parents deferred to the idiot children, me and my sister, to determine the moniker of this miniature beast. As idiot children, we came up with “Ebenezer Surprise the 2nd.” We never used the full name and no other dog was ever or has ever been named “Ebenezer Surprise.” You are welcome to come up with a stupider name, but the organic nature of “Ebenezer Surprise, II,” and the deluded excitement that it was a majestic name means that direct thought toward a stupider name will fall short of the naive childhood excitement that conjured a name that devolved into the even-dumber-on-its-own “Surprise.”
By being born and labeled with one of the stupidest combination of nouns available ought to have been enough to drive Surprise to the brink of sanity, then the label of “Surprise” simply removed all emotion, driving the poor dog to the cliffs of unfathomable depression.
To make things worse, like all puppies that age faster than childhood wonder, Surprise went from being the center of attention to an occasional distraction. Surprise developed a cataract in one of her eyes. Yes, “her.” The dog named “Ebenezer Surprise, II,” was a woman, a woman named Ebenezer. She was lucky to have her name devolve into “Surprise.” The only catch is that yelling, “Surprise,” is so insufferably dumb and embarrassing that her name devolved into, “Dog.”
Dog would end up developing a cataract in her other eye. Then, an ear cataract…or whatever it is that makes makes dogs deaf, like ear herpes or using Chevron with Techron, I don’t know, I’m not a veteran–no–vegeteranarian–yep, that’s it. From there, Dog would bump into things. Like a Roomba, she’d hit stairs and adjust her direction and proceed, without any clear direction.
In an attempt to redeem myself, I did give Surprise/Dog a lot of attention for a pre-teen…I was a pre-teen, the dog was a teen…no, not that kind of attention…this was a bad road to pave.
Now for the sad part.
When I was around 11 years old, my parents went on a cruise. They left me a number “in case of emergencies,” which, I wouldn’t know how to leave a child as an adult. Sadly, on the second day, I had to call.
This was because on an autumn evening, I went to feed and pet Dog and couldn’t find her…until I did, floating lifeless in the hyper-chlorinated pool. Being unfamiliar with death, I left Surprise in the pool like a furry buoy and ran inside, calling the “emergency” number.
My parents were, of course, a few daiquiris and nautical miles beyond caring about the dog that should have been euthanized a few years ago, (and couldn’t do anything from their position, to be fair, but fair in’t funny) so they passed me off to a family friend. Who hugged and comforted me and was super wonderful. My older brother was tasked with fishing out the carcass and disposing of the husk.
I, being so helpful, spent the next few days sitting in the garage crying, playing REM’s “Everybody Hurts” on a loop. To this day I don’t know Dog’s final resting place.
The thing is, you’d expect a blind and deaf dog to “accidentally” drown in a pool. BUT, Dog knew how to swim, AND, as I mentioned earlier, Dog knew not to go up any stairs, like a fluffy Roomba, which she would have needed to do to get to the pool.
This leaves only one explanation: Dog wanted out.
Which, I understand. I get that level of unquestioning, unavoidable, all-consuming depression. It doesn’t make me less sad. I still get choked up talking about Surprise/Dog. I only wish I would have called in Anne Sullivan. RIP Ebenezer Surprise, II, Dog, you were great and beyond understanding. In fact, though we mocked the name, it turns out that “Surprise” was retroactively more appropriate than we could have ever known.