June 25, 2008 · Updated 9:39 PM
"It's difficult to explain to a dog why the person it has been sleeping with for the last five years has gone away.A dog probably doesn't think college is that important; definitely not more important than friendship. How many dogs have ever left their masters to further their education? None. Dogs are faithful to the end, even if it means they're never educated enough to get a job. Not that it matters. All they require is a bowl of cheap food, some water, and someone to sleep with.Our dog still has the food and water, but his sleeping companion is gone. For the last week he's been moping around the house, perking up only when he hears her truck pull into the driveway. He waits at the head of the stairs, eyes sparkling and tail wagging, only to see me walk in, because after many months I'm driving the family truck again. Oh, it's only you, he seems to say, as he turns around to go sit behind the chair, over in the corner where he can mope in peace. The dog won't go downstairs where he used to sleep, probably because the bed is cold and empty. Put him down there and he'll bark all night, complaining that somebody is gone. So we let him stay in the living room, where he sleeps on his master's favorite chair, that little one with missing feet that nobody else would sit on. He puts his paws over his nose and sleeps restlessly, perhaps dreaming that he's back in bed where he belongs.We can't figure out how to cheer the dog up. Hearing his master's voice on the telephone doesn't trigger a response. Maybe we need a smell-a-phone. Showing him a calendar leaves no impression at all. Look, November is only three months away, and she'll be home for Thanksgiving. People can take comfort in calendars, but to the dog there's no consolation in dates. Nor does he understand the fact that in four years, college will be over and he can move in with her, wherever she decides to live. In four years, he'll be well past middle age. In dog years, we're talking an awful long time. She'll be home next summer, and the dog will be ecstatic, but then she'll leave again. We'll have to go through this dog depression for at least three more summers.We're taking the dog for longer walks than usual, buying porterhouse steak that is beyond our budget just so he'll have some meaty bones to chew on, and we gave him his own fluffy blanket.But these material things aren't working. We still have a sad dog on our hands, and he'll probably stay that way. None of us can wait until November so this dog will cheer up. "