A dog's tale for Christmas

Dice was a dark brown German shorthair who belonged to Bill and Laura Breuer of Olympia.

He was no ordinary dog. He was one of the greatest hunters around and they treated him like one of the family. He rode in the front seat of the car right up there between his owners. Bill and Laura and Dice were practically inseparable.

Well, age and its complications got to Dice as it does with every living creature, and the dog developed problems. The Breuers took him to their veterinary hospital where his ailment was diagnosed as cancer of the colon.

The vets tried everything, even sending a specimen of tissue to Washington State University for verification and word came back that nothing could be done. The best thing to do, the vets concluded, was to put Dice to sleep, rather than subject him to further pain and suffering.

When the Breuers got the final verdict on the telephone, they put Dice in the car and took him on his last ride to the vets. They left him there, then drove around the rest of the day, crying.

A little over two months later, John L. Sullivan, a longtime legislative lobbyist who lived on Discovery Bay in Jefferson County, got a call from old friend Chet Breuer, son of Bill and Laura and the Olympia chief of detectives.

“The vets called me from the dog hospital and want me to come and get Dice,” he told Sullivan.

Dice is dead, said Sullivan. “No, he is not,” said Breuer.

After the Breuers left the dog, the vets didn't have the heart to administer the fatal needle. They'd known Dice since he was a pup and he was like family to them, too. They pondered what to do and decided to wait a day or two until their newest medical partner arrived to get him to take a look. He hadn't known Dice.

While they were waiting, they got a call from one of the WSU researchers. Did they still have the dog for which they’d sent the tissue specimen? They did.

Well, said the caller, we've got a drug we want to try out. How about trying it out on the dog? It won't cost anybody anything and it might help.

The upshot, of course, was that they tried the drug. It worked, and Dice was ready to go home.

Now, said Chet Breuer to Sullivan, what do I do? My folks think Dice is dead. How do I tell them he's not, without giving one or the other a heart attack?

Do it just like you told me, said Sullivan.

The next day, Sullivan was at his home when Bill and Laura Breuer drove up in their car with Dice sitting in his usual spot between them.

Sullivan pretended not to notice as the broadly smiling couple got out of the car.

Come on over here, said Bill Breuer, I want to show you something.

Sullivan tried to look at the tires and the hood and everything else on the car until he was ready to be surprised by an equally happy dog.

Dice lived another couple of years after that, and died at his proper time of life — of old age.

After Dice, the Breuers said they could never have another dog. Sullivan tried to give them one of a litter of shorthair puppies he had, but they refused. They couldn't go through that again, they said.

So one day they were visiting and Sullivan told them he was going to be gone for a week or so and he didn't have anybody he could leave the last pup with. Wouldn't they please just puppysit him at their home as a favor until Sullivan got back?

They were reluctant, but he loaded the new pup into their car and they drove off.

Funny thing, Sullivan never did get around to retrieving that pup.

Adele Ferguson can be reached at Post Office Box 69, Hansville, Wash. 98340.

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