For Boston Red Sox fans, Pokey Reese is probably best remembered for one play, in one game. That one play was in the bottom of the 9th inning in game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship Series. A ground ball was sent to short stop, and the call “…Pokey Reese has it…” sealed the deal for the Sox to complete the most unlikely comeback and advance to the 2004 World Series.
Pokey Reese, however, was more than that. Earlier in the baseball season, at the beginning really, we fulfilled a promise we made to my daughter when we had told her we would get a dog when we had bought a house.
A year before, we had bought our home and while it took us a year to fulfill our promise, on Memorial Day weekend, we had decided it was time. We knew the kind of dog we wanted – a breed that was known to be good with kids – and we had located the place to buy this new member of our family.
When we arrived at the store, we told the proprietor what we were looking for, and she led us to the area of the store where we could find it. An entire litter of cockapoos in one area, all of which had poop on their heads, were squirming around an open air crate. One immediately took an interest in us and we decided quickly that this little puppy would be our choice – or rather, we would affirm his choice in us.
For almost 10 years that little puppy, the one we named Pokey Reese after the 2004 Red Sox 2B/SS and otherwise largely unremarkable player, would become our family member. He knew only our home and our “pack” for as long as he lived. On Thursday, 12 December, he passed away from the leukemia that had been diagnosed last year. We were fortunate that he was a survivor as long as he was, but in the end cancer has its ways of making itself known.
Over the last month, we went from having a largely healthy dog, to a confused little old man, his cancer having spread to his central nervous system. Eventually, despite some of the worlds’ best care just miles down the road from us, he succumbed to his disease having had a seizure and falling into a coma.
To give an idea of how important and how loved this dog was, today his oncologist called and told us that she had pictures on her phone dating to last year of him and telling us how sweet he was, that she was there when he died and that he was loved. This is a woman who sees hundreds of dogs and yet, she bonded with my Pokey Reese.
It’s self serving, and perhaps even egocentric, to say he was loved by all he met, but he was. He was a special creature, very loving and gentle. Never fearing an apparent strike to the face, because he’d never experienced being hit. I trusted him not to bite me, and he trusted that I would never hit him. Both were self fulfilling prophesies.
Tonight, his water bowl is empty, his bed alone, and his leaches untouched. All where they were when we brought him to the hospital for the last time. He’s no longer suffering, and I have to believe he was suffering, but we are sad for that special little creature we have lost.
It’s been a little more than 24 hours since he passed onto the Rainbow Bridge and we’re still sad. I have to believe that we’ll be sad for a while – he was a member of our family for almost a decade. There’s no more furry friend sharing our bed, or to be put out, or to be fed. We’re eternally grateful for the additional year we had with him, but eternally sad he’s no longer here with us.