Treatise on a Bad Dog by Faye Satterly

Photo of small white dog with blue fabric around his neck
Photograph by Faye Satterly

The first time I saw Bad Dog Ollie, he gave me the stink eye. He was in a large pen with a flock of adorable puppies, who ran and tumbled and played in a group. He stood to the side, staring up at me with his black eyes. “Isn’t he adorable,” the breeder cooed. “Isn’t he the cutest? And he looks so smart.”

Smart, perhaps. Wily, for sure, devious and willfully ill-behaved, definitely. A little dog with six-inch legs who could somehow climb onto the kitchen table, pull down my purse and chew up its contents or steal a bag of cookies, or eat half a box of tissues and poop paper for weeks. A dog who was house-broken—except when the outdoors seemed too inconvenient or too cold or too hot or too rainy or snowy.

Though very cute, he didn’t like to be pet or held or come when called. He was selectively deaf with a shrill, insistent bark he could sustain for hours. When he was two years old, a young girl who worked at the kennel fell for his curly hair and high energy and offered to take him. I declined. I knew that anyone in their right mind would eventually want to drop kick him across the room and I felt responsible.

It wasn’t ’till he approached fourteen years, blind, mostly deaf, often confused and muddled, that I finally arranged with the vet to have him put down. I had done it for three dogs previously—Sam, who was sweetly imperfect, Bailey who was an endearing Eyeore of a dog, and finally Perfect Dog Sasha, who was the sweetest, happiest, funniest and most beloved dog who ever lived (with me).

Why is it then that it was only over Bad Dog Ollie that I wept inconsolably. Relief? Secret admiration for his obstinate personality? Guilt over my inadequate love for him? Or perhaps just the recognition that life is short and I may only have one more dog-life-cycle ahead of me.

Bad Dog Ollie 10/1/2008 — 9/20/2022

Faye Satterly
Faye Satterly is a lover of all things wild. She lives in the Hudson River Valley in upstate New York where she can hike daily in the woods. She started life as a writer then took a forty-year detour to raise a daughter and work as an oncology nurse. She has published one book of nonfiction, Where have all the Nurses Gone?, and is currently completing her first novel.

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