Poor Cee-Bee probably had the silliest name ever. She began life as “Candy Buttons,” but the name just didn’t seem right (ya think?). It was shortened to Cee-Bee, or so we were told. This was during the long-ago citizen’s-band radio fad, so everyone who met her assumed that she was somehow involved in the trucking industry.
She wasn’t. She wasn’t purebred, either, as you can see. She had some beagle and some shepherd and who knows what in her, and really, it didn’t matter. She was The Cee.
She was six years old when she came to live with us. Her previous family loved her to bits but had to surrender her when one of them became violently allergic to fur. My mom played bridge with their mom, who kept lobbying for Cee-Bee to come live with us, very persuasively, overcoming my mom’s entrenched reluctance to take on a pet (“I have seven kids, do you think I NEED a dog?”).
Mom agreed to have Cee-Bee over, just for a while, just to see. Her bridge buddy brought Cee-Bee to our house with her dishes and leash and toys, and left in floods of tears. The door closed behind her, and there we all were.
Cee-Bee looked at us, went to a corner, and curled up, her head on her paws and the saddest expression on her face that I had ever seen on anybody. My mom forgot about her reluctance and only worried about how to make Cee-Bee happier. You couldn’t do anything else, really.
Cee-Bee did get used to us, and was happy again. She loved sunning herself in the backyard and chasing rocks. She was brilliant at finding a round rock and rolling it around so that it approximated prey, which she would promptly subdue, snarling in faux savagery. It was extremely silly, even sillier than a name like Cee-Bee. But adorable.
She hated thunderstorms and loved bologna but never outright stole food that I can recall, although maybe I’m looking back with rose-colored glasses on that one. But maybe not. Cee-Bee was a beautifully behaved dog. As my mother used to say: She lived to please. She was affectionate and serene but had just the right sense of fun to thrive in a household with seven kids.
But the day came, inevitably, when she was fourteen and very sick and suffering badly, and my mother had to make the tough decision animal lovers so often face. I was at work and she called me to tell me. I kept telling myself I wasn’t surprised, that nobody could be surprised.
But I was. Cee-Bee was the first pet I ever knew, and somehow, it didn’t occur to me that I’d have to say goodbye someday. That she wouldn’t always be in the backyard basking in her special ray of sun.
Although I’d like to think she still is, somewhere.