When you no longer have a home, a pet gives you a place to belong. That’s what Patriot, my stupid, fluffy, wide-eyed, snoring best friend did. 

Last May, the home I’d lived in for 20 years burned down. Ironically, due to pets—an electrical fire in my sister’s fish tank.

Thank god my dad and my dog, the only people (yes, Patriot is a person) at 533 Hammond, escaped the burning home. But I lost every thing that validated my home—the bin of mutilated Barbies in the basement, the family photos in the mudroom, the tennis trophies on my bookshelf, the Penn acceptance letter taped over my desk. I can't recognize the objects, the smell, the mess, the address I called, and still, call home. Home is charcoal residue.

My dad and Patriot moved into 53 Eliot Memorial Road, a rental house filled with rental furniture and new floors. My dad picked the rental house because it gave Patriot a fenced yard to chase bees (and get stung by bees) and bark at flowers.

And even with nothing I knew at 53 Eliot Memorial, with nothing that belonged to me, I felt at home there because Patriot still begged for cheese and still snored like an asshole.

It was Patriot who showed me that I still have a home. That we can make new memories and remember what was by telling stories. It was Patriot who showed me that puppy eyes are irresistible everywhere. It was Patriot who taught my family to love again. 

He died of heart failure. Like so many Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, he struggled with heart problems throughout his twelve years of life. Call it whatever medical term you want to call it, but Patriot's heart failed him because he loved and loved and loved. And when he loved his family back to home, he had served his purpose on earth.

Now, he’s in doggie heaven, lounging on a cloud of Kraft Singles.

For all you Penn pet owners, I am so jealous of you. I would give anything for a pet at Penn. And I know that I can’t give a pet the love a pet deserves. So I admire you. And I hope that you will allow me to pet your hairless cat.

Woof, bark, meow,

Alex


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