Back in the day when I had a daily radio show, my family decided they wanted to go on a vacation. Since I was chained to my microphone, they left me and our dog Banjo alone to fend for ourselves. And honestly, it wasn’t so bad. Banjo, a 14-year-old diabetic Border Terrier, enjoyed the guy time. I enjoyed the dog time. We’d play tug and I’d walk him around the block. He was always good company. He’d sit with you and supervise whatever you were doing.
I got off the air at 6 p.m. and usually arrived home around 6:30. One evening, I pulled into the garage and was met by silence. No barking. No scratching on the door. No “You just liberated Paris!” joyful greeting. I opened the door to find vomit all over the floor and Banjo lying in a heap in the corner.
I quickly cleaned up the vomit, threw Banjo in his crate and headed over to the emergency vet. They took him from my arms and said, “We’ll see what we can do for him.” I waited in the waiting room and one of the vets came out to fill me in on his prognosis.
“He’s having a pancreatic attack. It’s pretty bad. We’ll do all we can for him so you go home and get some sleep. If we think he’d not going to make it, we’ll call you so you can say goodbye.”
That was the loneliest drive home I can remember.
When I got there, I brushed my teeth and settled in for a restless night’s sleep. The bed seemed empty without my farting, snoring Banjo. I drifted off into the land of nightmares.
At 3:30 a.m., the phone rang and my heart sank. I picked it up and the vet said, “You need to come over.” I threw on some clothes, fired up my car and bawled like a baby all the way to the emergency vet.
When I entered the back room, all the other animals were asleep in their cages. It was dark except for one light beaming down on a table in the middle of the room. On that table was a little brown dog. It was Banjo. He was wired up and panting like mad — fighting for his life one rapid breath at a time. I went over to him and started to stroke his side. I laid my head down next to his and began telling him what a great dog he was. Then I lifted his little triangle ear and told him, “If you beat this, I’ll write the check.”
Before I could get the last word out of my mouth, his little beady eye opened with a “BINK!”
That stupid dog walked out of there three days later and I wrote the biggest check I’ve written in my life. (I wrote on the memo line, For LAZARUS.)
Banjo showed me something that day: If you have the will, you can perform miracles. He wanted to live — and he did for a few more months. Yet even at his sickest, he loved life. And I learned that if you have the heart, you can do practically anything. His spirit lives on in us and in his book. He was a very, very good dog.
If you go into that emergency vet clinic, you might see the drawing of Banjo hanging on the wall. He’s the saint for all animals who want to live.
Long live the spirit of Banjo. He won the battle and eventually won the war against fear and pain.