1. The Young Man and the Dog
There was once a young man enrolled in college near his hometown. His parents had friends from church, an older couple, who one day decided, “We are going on vacation to Hawaii. We have never been, and it is high time we got away.” This family asked the young man’s parents if he would take care of their dog. The young man’s parents explained that he could help himself to food from the fridge and stay in their house overnight. It would be like a vacation for him, too.
The young man agreed. The old couple would be gone for two weeks. He fed, walked, and played with the dog daily. He helped himself to food and slept in their bed. He attended daily classes at his college, a five minutes’ drive.
Two weeks passed and the young man’s parents called. “They have decided to stay for another week. They have never been on such a vacation in their lives. They deserve it.”
He stayed another week. He fed and walked and played with the dog. He relaxed with the dog and the TV in the evenings. Summer was coming, and the dog began to shed. Every night he nudged the young man for scratches and pats, then retreated to a corner to sleep.
His parents called after that week. “They are staying for another week. They really need rest. They have invested so much. They are sending you a check, enough for groceries and a bonus.”
So the young man stayed. The dog slept a lot. It became less hungry and would not finish its food. It began to drag behind on walks, and the young man would have to tug him forward with the leash. The dog stopped nudging for scratches and pats, and just slept in the corner.
His parents called again. The couple was staying for another week. By this time, the dog was not getting out of bed or eating and would not go for walks. The young man and his parents finally took the dog to the veterinarian. “The dog has cancer,” the veterinarian said. “It is in its final stages. He needs to be put down.”
The dog was put down. The old couple never left Hawaii.