Lileks: A pet's death is outside political fray

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 24, 2013 - 7:15 AM
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Dayton spends time with his most loyal companions, Mesabi and Dakota at his townhome in downtown Minneapolis.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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The governor’s dog died. If you have anything negative to say about this, please proceed directly to the Internet and make a fool of yourself in the comments, then go to the mirror and congratulate yourself for making a stand and letting the world know what BobFan04931 thinks about the loss of a family pet. Sarcastic elevation of an animal’s demise into a political metaphor? Nailed it.

Mesabi was 11 and died after an operation. Some were mad the governor spent his money on an old dog instead of supporting (insert worthy cause here). It’s a legitimate issue within a family; outside the family, it is beeswax to which you have no claim of possession.

But don’t draw too many lessons from flame-belching trolls. Everyone remembers the loss of a pet, even if it was a childhood burial-at-sea of the goldfish in the toilet.

I got a twinge when I read about the governor’s dog, because my brilliant mutt is old. The ears that once heard a howl on the other side of town now channel nothing but a vast and muddled hush; the eyes that once studied your face for commands now trust the nose to confirm your identity. The snout can pick up the scent of a treat on the other side of the house, but the legs betray his ability to get there by the end of the day.

For months I’ve been picking him up to get him up the icy back steps, and perhaps he’s come to believe he can fly. He’s still up for an hour’s walk. He’s still up for breakfast. He barks his head off when someone comes home. There is life left aplenty. Every day I expect him to tell me it’s time — a refusal to eat breakfast, a sudden collapse, a pleading look that says we’re done here, boss. Every day he rises.

Sympathies, then, for the governor, for having to let a friend go in hard March. Best in spring, perhaps. Outside. The warm ground, the smell of the blooming world, the chattering of the squirrels. Heh. I could have caught you if I’d really wanted. The chase on the long bright days — that was the thing.

Mesabi was 11. My dog is old enough to vote. For who, I don’t know; dogs are above politics. In the real world, anyway. On the Internet, it’s a different story.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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