"This is Frodo," the salesgirl said. I took the dog around the store, gaily introducing myself to the dog I had picked out from a photograph on the Petco web site. I took a stuffed duck from a shelf and teased the dog with it.

"Are you a good dog?" I said, as I held the leash in one hand and jabbed the dog with the stuffed duck. The dog grabbed the doll. I grabbed it back and said, "You seem like a good dog. I really need a good dog!" The dog snarled and growled and stared fiercely into my eyes as he firmly held onto the duck. "You ARE a good dog," I said.

I took out my checkbook. "You are aware that Frodo only has one eye, aren’t you?" the salesgirl said.

"Well nobody told me," I said.

"It WAS on the web page. You DID read the web page didn’t you?"

"Well, I didn’t, but that’s okay," I said.

"Okay, sign here. This is a binding contract."

"Oh, sure, but there are always reasons that a contract might not be binding."

"Like what?" the sales girl said.

"Oh, like a serious illness or a serious behavioral problem."

The sales girl looked down and did not answer.

I wrote out the check.

* * * * *

Sitting in the barn with my brother and sister, I held the dog on my lap. My sister reminded her brother that the power of attorney would protect them against accusations of theft and the brother looked at the sister, pursed his lips in understanding and agreed that they had done everything well. The were insufferable together. My sister turned to me and said, "I have the power of attorney over health and he has the power over the estate."

I smiled as I hugged Frodo. "But I have the Dandy Dinmont Terrior," I said.

"I see that," my sister said.


Frodo was absolutely irrepressible and energetic beyond my wildest dreams. Before I got him he had already established files in three animal shelters. He chewed through three leather leashes so I had to buy him a chain leash. I loved his lust for freedom and gladly tracked him down whenever he ran away. When we went on walks he twisted the leash around my legs so that I had to dance in a complete circle to stay on my feet. He growled and barked and pulled on the leash with his legs dancing in the air whenever he saw a dog. When he saw a person he fawned over them and seduced them shamelessly until they pet him. Then he would turn away with disinterest.


They passed a law that vicious dogs had to wear bright yellow collars or be euthanized. I painted Frodo’s harness yellow but it was so embarrassing that I bought a jacket harness for him. About this time I took in Skeezicks, a fawn colored chihuahua. Frodo was distressed. Suddenly I was paying attention to the new dog. I knew the great danger with small dogs was that they could break a leg jumping from a bed. I placed a step near the bed and taught the dog never to jump from the bed. Frodo could no longer be fed in the kitchen because he kept eating Skeezicks’ food. I had Frodo eat in a different room but Frodo was too fast. Frodo still got Skeezick’s food. Finally I put Frodo on the table and instructed him to "Stay!" while I put Skeezick’s dish on the floor in the kitchen. Frodo jumped from the table and I ran into the living room. "Oh, no!" Frodo I said. "You can’t do that!" I knew this was not safe but I did not realize how unsafe it was because I forgot that Frodo only had one eye and this meant he had no depth perception.

I got a chair and taught Frodo to use it to get up to the table and down just as I had taught Skeezicks. But Frodo, always the show off, refused to be treated like a baby and continued to jump to the floor. I put Frodo’s food in the bathroom and fed him there. This worked until one day I was putting Skeezicks’ food down on the kitchen floor and I heard Frodo jump to the floor. I ran into the living room and saw that he had used the chair to climb up to the table looking for food. Finding no food, he jumped to the floor. He was limping. I knew I would have to take him to the doctor for an x-ray.

The x-ray revealed no break so I gladly paid the bill and remarked, "What a cheap price to pay!" I did not worry when Frodo continued to walk in a clumsy way because I knew the leg was not broken. I was horrified that he held his head sideways but I didn’t worry about it until I happened to go to a community meeting where the head of the Police Canine unit gave a talk. He said that they had to return one of the new dogs because he walked as if he were drunk and tests showed that the dog had a spine injury. I took Frodo to the vet and asked that they x-ray Frodo’s spine. The doctor found a small deviation in the spinal column and sent me home with some pain killers. The doctor said if the dog gets better I could just forget about it.

Frodo didn’t get better. I got more pain relievers but he never got right again. The doctor gave me more powerful medicine but wouldn’t give me enough to take away the pain so we had to alternate between powerful medication and not so powerful pain medication. A few months later I brought Frodo back. The doctor felt his hips and said he was very stiff. I got more pain killers but never enough to give the dog relief because the medicine was dangerous to the liver.

After that there were more x-rays. Finally they discovered that three out of four of the neck bones were fused. More pain killers. More pain. One night Frodo cried out in a terrible agony. I looked him over and found a terrible rash and his liver was swollen. I took Frodo in early to see the doctor. Through a series of errors I ended up waiting in the clinic room for over a half hour. This gave me time to think over the problem. I found myself rehearsing what I would tell the doctor, how I would present the multiple problems. Someone in the next room said, "Thank you for telling me the truth." I realized all I had to tell the doctor was the truth.

The doctor came in and said that the dog was too old for surgery. I told the doctor I was thinking of euthanasia. I showed the doctor two sties on the dog’s only eye. I showed him the rash. I showed him the belly. He said the liver was swollen because of the pain medication. That was the decisive factor. I asked for euthanasia. I stayed with Frodo while the orderlies inserted the catheter. Then the doctor came in and gave Frodo anaesthesia which caused Frodo to lie down completely collapsed in my arms. Then the doctor administered the lethal drug. Involuntary tears grasped me and the doctor walked me out to the sidewalk and told me to stay in the car and recover before I drove away.


Three hours later I had shampooed the rug and done the laundry. The next morning I woke up with a vision of Frodo trying to sit down in his clumsy body, circling around until the body finally sunk into a sleeping position as he had done during his illness. That day I wondered why he was still in his crippled body. I thought that after you died you woke up completely free of pain and physical defects. Was Frodo still in his crippled body? I drove to Madam Abby’s office with Frodo’s collar and a few photographs of him. Madam Abby was not at her office so I called her on the phone. "Hello?" the voice on the telephone said.

"Is this the psychic?"


"You helped me with a family catastrophe about 8 years ago and I need to see you about my dog. I had him put to sleep last Tuesday and he has appeared in his crippled body and I’m worried about him."

"How many times has he appeared to you in the crippled body?"

"Only once, the day after the... The... the euthanasia when I woke up in a semi-dream state."

"Call me on Tuesday and make an appointment."

"Are you sure we can wait for five days? Isn’t this an emergency?"

"I just have to locate him and see if he’s still in that body. I will need a collar and a photograph."

"I have those things," I said.


The next day a crazy man stole a racing car and drove crazily on the freeways, frightening everyone and causing the police to follow him in a formation of many police cars with helicopters up above. He drove like a professional racer with uncanny control of the powerful car, traveling over 100 miles an hour off and on different freeways. He sideswiped an SUV van, causing it to make a somersault. The driver, his wife and his young son were unharmed, protected in their car seats. The crazy man kept driving until he encountered heavy traffic in Hollywood. He was forced to stop. The police dragged him out of the car and the news people ran up to where he was sitting with the police around him.

"Why did you do it?" the newsgirl said.

"I was screaming, ‘I am an angel and I love you guys. I love you guys!’"

The newsgirl chastised him for frightening everyone.

"Do you see that I have swag?" he asked.

"Yes," she said, "But you hurt people when you ran away from the cops!"

He said, "I would never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never disrespect the cops.

"He looked into the news camera, his right cheek laying sideways on the car and his hands handcuffed in back of him. "You see that I have swag and you see that I need help. I have lived with this all my life and I want to go home!"

"Why do you want to go home?" a newsman asked.

"Life was good at home," the crazy man said.

When I saw the news worried. The style was a lot like Frodo. And when the man kept repeating, "never, never, never, never" it sounded like he was barking. What if that was Frodo’ss ghost? What if Frodo was upset about being dead and jumped into that crazy man’s body? The man answered the newsmen’s questions very strangely. When they said, "Are you on drugs?" the man answers "What is drugs?" But the news reported it as the man saying "Which drugs?" And when the news reporter said, "You are going to jail,’ the man said, "What is jail?" but they reported it as him saying "Which jail?" If that was Frodo in the man’s body he would not know what drugs were and he would not know what jail is. What if Frodo jumped into that man’s body to have one last fling? I must get him to the Madam Abby. Maybe he needs to be exorcism before we send him to his next existence. I don’t want him to go to hell. I want him to go to heaven!"

The next day I saw a thin film of light going out to the balcony where the dog papers are. I thought it was Skeezicks but then I saw Skeezicks was sleeping on the bed. I was relieved that Frodo was a good little ghost just hanging around the house not realizing he was dead. I thought, "I was surely wrong to think that my dear Frodo would do that crazy stunt last night. It was so much like Frodo, the thrilling way that guy slammed through the city streets, terrifying everyone and harming no one. I’ll feel a lot better after Madam collects Frodo’s spirit and administers her psychic skills to the situation."