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Friends

Charlie and Lucky were sitting in front of the hotel. It was a warm day, but soon it would be winter and neither one was looking forward to a chilly November or December.

Charlie and Lucky were old friends and after they talked about the weather, Charlie (who was the younger by a few years) said that he had read that pets could keep people alive and happy in their old age.

“Yeah, I read that too, or I heard it on the radio,” said Lucky. “Of course, half the things you hear or read ain’t true.”

“You’re getting to be a bit of a cynic, ain’t you?” asked Charlie. “Fact is, a pet is good for a person. Gives them something to live for.”

“I ain’t a cynic; I’m realistic,” said Lucky. “You think some old lady in Calgary who has a tank full of goldfish is going to last longer than her sister in New York who is rich and can afford the best hospitals and doctors in the world?”

“Goldfish can’t exactly be classified as pets, stupid,” said Charlie. “I’m talking about a dog or a cat, maybe a monkey or something.”

“The only creature in the world that has any hope of helping a person live longer is a dog and we both know it,” said Lucky.

“And how does a dog help a person live longer?” asked Charlie.

“Well, you take an old person. Most of the time their kids never come to see them. Many of their friends have died and they just sit alone and they don’t have anything to live for. Now if that old person has to worry about a dog, then that old person will have something to live for.”

“Also, dogs like to be petted. That gives an old person what the shrinks call a contact high. People and dogs need to be touched. Cats don’t give a damn and if you start petting a goldfish, you’re just asking for trouble. A monkey will often bite the hand that feeds it. I hate any kind of monkey. Cute but untrustworthy.”

“So a dog helps a person live longer by giving them something to look after?” asked Charlie.

“Right. Course, no one realizes how hard such a relationship is on the dog.”

“You want to explain that?” asked Charlie.

“Dogs get attached to people. They keep them alive for as long as possible and then that person dies and it damn near does in the dog. Cats, goldfish and monkeys couldn’t care less if their masters die. Dogs, because they are so sensitive, often grieve themselves to death.”

“Well, when the dog dies first, their owners just get a new dog. Dogs can be replaced easier than you think,” said Charlie.

“Who told you that?” asked Lucky.

“My granddad told me that,” said Charlie.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” said Lucky. “I recall my grandfather telling me the same thing.”

“Dogs and humans are the only things on the planet who think about their grandparents, don’t you know that?” asked Charlie.

“Are you sure?” asked Lucky.

“I’m pretty sure,” said Charlie and he walked over to a fire hydrant and lifted his leg and took a short whiz on it. A minute later Lucky did the same thing. And then the two old friends returned to sitting in the warm sunshine, waiting for the winter.

bittersweet

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