When I was growing up we had dogs. The first dog I remember (ok, don’t really remember him but have seen pictures, does that count?) was named Pepper and he was some sort of Dachshund mix. He died when I was three. Then we got Chester. He was a Beagle. Every.bit. a beagle. They bark a lot and he was NO exception. But we all loved him and he was supposedly my brother Chris’ dog but by the time he left this earth I am not sure the last time Chris had given him the time of day. Chester still out-lasted a few other dogs that we attained along the way, including my precious Cocoa (yes, the chocolate obsession started early).
Cocoa was a brown (big surprise!) mix of Doberman and Dachshund (supposedly) and was one the most nimble animals I have ever seen. He loved to run and chase squirrels, while aging Chester just kinda laid there on our patio watching him and barked a few times, cheering him on I guess. He was a spry one that Cocoa and I thought he was the coolest dog ever. He even taught himself to scale our 7-foot fence. We would go to the ball field across from our house and play “fetch” and he would just run and play like crazy. We had a lot of fun together and I became quite attached to my new friend.
The first summer we had Cocoa we took his puppy self on vacation with us to the beach. He had the cutest little puppy face and even though he punctured one of my favorite floaties with his sharp little claws, I just had to forgive him. I mean who could resist a cute such a face? I thought it was so cool that we got to take our dog with us on vacation because we had never done that before. I was ten, things like this were cool. Gimme a break.
We didn’t have Cocoa very long before there was an accident and he went on to doggie heaven. I remember that day very clearly. My mother picked me up from dance class and as we pulled into the driveway she told me that she had some sad news. I was a little freaked wondering what she was going to tell me. That was when she told me that Cocoa had gotten out of the backyard and been hit by a car and died. And so the lies began…
Now, fast forward oh… about 12 years and we are out to breakfast with my boyfriend (now husband), my brother and his wife and my parents. We are having fun and many laughs reminiscing about the dogs in our family and at one point my mother says, “Yeah, and then there was Cocoa who hung himself on the fence.” I think my eyes popped out of my head and my heart stopped. “HE WHAT??!?!,” I exclaimed. “You told me that he had been hit by a car.” There was silence at the table until my boyfriend (now husband) started laughing. Thanks honey. The rest of the meal was my mother trying to explain how she did not want to have to tell me that he died that way and so she and Dad agreed to fabricate the story just a little. She was trying to protect the innocent (a.k.a Me). See Cocoa had been tied up so that he wouldn’t scale the fence again and he decided he was going to try anyway. Yep, that’s what really happened.
Later that evening another one of my brothers walked into my parent’s house and said, “Heard you found out about Cocoa.” And one of my sister-in-laws called to say that she’d known the truth all along. My ENTIRE family had been lying to me for years, even the newbies. Heart-wrenching. I think even some of my nieces and nephews knew the truth before me.
So now, as a parent myself, I wonder what I would have done if faced with the same situation. I think I would have probably told my kid the truth but who knows, I have never been there. I still like to tease my parents about lying to me and if one of my brothers is around when I do, they just start cracking up. I bet when my parents decided to “fib” a little that day they had no idea that this story would become a family legacy. Yep, that’s right, someday I will tell my boys about this. I mean everyone in the family might as well know, right?