Etasha Srinivas


“Aww, hello baby!” I said to Cheers as he jumped up onto the bed and curled up at my feet.  “Mwah, mwah, mwah, mwah… come here chikabaloo.”  Cheers moved to my side, laying his head gently on my arm.  Lazing around in bed, the two of us spent the day like that, cuddling under the sheets to stay toasty.  Relaxing with Cheers made me realize how lucky I was to have him, and how he had become a part of my life.

Growing up, I had wanted a cat.  I had never entertained the idea of a pet dog.  One day, without giving me any inkling, my dad took the family to visit a dog breeder.

Upon arriving, I was excited to see the puppies.  There were three puppies- two boys and a girl.  The smaller of the two boys greeted me.  He clambered over my legs, which to him probably seemed like mountains, given his tiny size.  He was content to stay in my lap, enjoying the belly rub I was giving him.  I gave him my undivided attention, and so, his brother became jealous.  Growling, he too tried to sit on my lap.  But the smaller puppy pushed him away.  He had already staked a claim to me.  His curly coat was snow white and as soft as cashmere.  His eyes were dark brown, and his nose was textured like leather.  He was calm but playful.  Within minutes, I had fallen in love with this palm-sized, beautiful puppy.  We named him Cheers, which was a very appropriate name for him, since he brought cheer to our lives.

He was sensitive and caring, and was always able to sense when someone was sad.  When no one sided with me in a fight, I could always depend on him to take up cudgels for me.  He defended me by barking at the shouting person.  Cheers was also the most expressive being in the house.  His eyes told all.  As I reflected on those wonderful memories, I realized how much I had fallen in love with Cheers.  I pulled him closer to me, unwilling to let him go.   Little did I know of the events to follow.

We had just finished dinner, and it was time for Cheers’ walk.  I could barely see, for the night was so dark like a thick blanket over my head.  Only a faint light shone on the street.  I could see the black pavement directly under the light.  However, I was able to navigate my way, having traversed the path several times.  From the corner of my eye, I could see a distant light appear.  Suddenly, headlights penetrated the darkness like two bug eyes.  Cheers’ head darted up from sniffing the ground.  His body tensed, and his back became rigid like a wooden board.  Suddenly, he darted, running towards the edge of the driveway and the street.  I was startled, and called for him to stop.  Cheers was without a leash.  He had never chased a car before, so why would he now?  The car was approaching at a sluggish pace, and I was sure that it would stop.  The driver had made eye contact with me and had seen Cheers.  To my relief, he stopped running and stood at the end of the driveway.  I called him, ordering him to return to me.  I started walking towards him.  By this time, the car was passing our driveway.  I watched in complete disbelief as he ran alongside the car.  I heard a yelp, and realized that Cheers had been hit.  I ran towards him; the car had stopped and the driver was standing by him.  She was sobbing, and apologizing profusely.  I couldn’t understand what she was saying because I was trying to revive Cheers.  I examined his petite body and noticed a huge gash.  The remnants of his dinner lay dispersed on the pavement.  Tufts of his white fur were plastered to the ground, and his tail had tire marks on it.  The horror of the situation hit me.  This lady had run over my beloved dog.  Suddenly, feelings of anger took over, followed by feelings of guilt.

Why was the lady so stupid as to not stop?  She had seen Cheers, and had seen me running after him.  Did she not know that she should have stopped the car when she saw Cheers running?

At this point, the neighbors were out.  My mom was down the road, shouting at the top of her lungs.  I was terrified.  I should have never taken Cheers out without his leash.  I had been too lazy to put on his leash, and as a result, Cheers died.  I could have easily prevented such an event from happening.

Maybe I should have sprinted after him.  Maybe I should have run in front of the car.  Maybe I should have shouted at the driver to stop.  Maybe I should have flailed my arms so the driver would stop.  The scene of Cheers being run over replayed in my mind.  I would never be able to forgive myself.  I had been the one taking Cheers out, and he had been my responsibility.  I could have saved him, but instead, I stood on the pathway like a mindless idiot.  I had killed Cheers.  His death was my entire fault.

That night, the house was the emptiest it had ever been.  My dad was on a business trip and my sister at college.  My mom and I sat on the couch unable to sleep. We both spent the night bawling.  I couldn’t bring myself to talk about Cheers because I would feel guiltier.  I had caused my mom to lose her child, her son.

That weekend, my family and I went to a cremation center.  We drove down to Cape Cod with Cheers’ ashes.  My dad, in his black suit, waded into the water, and released Cheers’ ashes.

Cheers’ passing was my first encounter with death.  I had never felt such an intense helplessness.  I wished over and over again to turn back time, and have Cheers’ soft body lying by me.  He has left a void in my life, that I hope my new puppy, Mr. Chips, will someday fill.  I still feel responsible and guilty to this day. I still sometimes wake up with a gnawing pain. The incident has left an indelible mark on me - a mark, which will never be erased.


Copyright 2002-2007 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2007 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.