(with apologies to Leigh French)
Every day at 5:00 you take a nice thick, juicy, raw steak out of the fridge in your lavish condo and set it on the floor in front of your best furry canine friend. Goldy (your retriever, named for that wonderful business where you work on Wall Street) hardly waits until you drop the huge morsel on the floor. Never mind the plate, he greedily wolfs it down no matter where you leave it.
And you can’t blame him. You’ve been feeding him this way for a long time now. He’s so used to it, it wouldn’t be fair to him to treat him any other way! Well, maybe not raw steak every day because every so often you have to substitute some chicken (cooked just the way he likes it) or even when those times rarely call for it, some ground round. Why, just a few years ago things looked like they might turn bad for you…and Goldy. But, thankfully, that never happened. Of course you apologize for the ground meat and lovingly grab him by the neck and tell him that when things get a little better, it’ll be that big steak again, every day!
He’s oblivious to your apologies and just wants to finish the current meal at hand. Standing up, you look lovingly at him for the wonderful companion he is, forgetting the times you have to take him for walks for exercise or let him outside to “do his business.” And you don’t even give a second thought to it when he happens to “dirty” someone else’s property so long as no one else notices it.
Then there are the trips to the vets to make sure he stays nice and healthy so you can continue to provide for him. (Who can forget that 5 day wonderful excursion you gave him at that swank Catskill resort with those others like him!) And wasn’t that huge fluffy bed you got him to sleep in just so cute, even though he only uses it occasionally, preferring to sleep on your new $2500 leather sofa. Those claw marks and scratches aren’t real nice looking but you just know he’s worth it, because he’s always there for you waiting for attention and treats and just looks so darn cute.
And you can’t wait to show him off in front of your friends. During those long walks when you run into a friend (who has the same situation with his best friend), you two naturally begin the rudimentary and obligatory , “Well, mine is really worth it because he’s provides protection for all my possessions” spiel. Your friend tells you that his best friend does the same better than yours. You disagree but, hey, it’s just between friends. And even if something unforeseen DOES happen while Goldy’s protecting you, hell, he can’t do everything, now, can he? At least he can keep it from happening again…probably!
Once you get back to your condo, you wonder whether your buddy was right. Should you call the vet and ask if you’d be better protected in the long run with a different “friend?” Nah! You’ll stick with your good ol’ Goldy. He saw you through some tough times and the expense he incurred only made his friendship that much more endearing. It may have been a sacrifice on your part, but you made sure that you got back everything you had to spend.
As he finishes the big steak you gave him, you just know there’s nothing he could do that could ever change your mind about wanting to take care of him.
But then comes that fateful day when your employer tells you that he has to cut back. Fortunately, you don’t lose your job, but your pay is scaled way back. Times are going to get tough. Looks like Goldy won’t be getting that big steak any more every day, just the ground round. But you’re sure he’ll understand.
No more steak. He won’t mind. So he turns his nose up at the few ounces of hamburger you offer. In no time, he’ll forget that steak. (At least he isn’t eating out of a bag…ugh!)
Soon though, he doesn’t even bother to eat that hamburger. He just sniffs it and goes back to sleep on your nearly ruined couch.
You don’t want to lose his protection so you try to think up ways to make him happy, so he’ll still continue to be the BFF you’ve ever had. But since times are tough for you, you need to come up with something so you can keep him in the style you really do want for him.
Pay checks are smaller and smaller and now those darn bills; why didn’t you ever notice them before? Now it’s getting bad. You don’t have enough to feed yourself let alone poor Goldy. What to do? A second job? But no one’s hiring. Unemployment? No. You still make too much, even though how anyone can live on your meager salary and still take care of Goldy is beyond you! Welfare? Well, maybe you can fool “those” people down at that office and they can supplement you just enough so Goldy can eat the way he used to. Nope! They won’t give you anything. Now what?
Goldy now won’t even eat the stuff you put down. You don’t understand. That dog down on the street is even eating from those trash cans!
Hey, that guy in the condo across the street is still working and still feeding his pet as well as he did before. And those others in that senior center just up the avenue, they somehow have managed to take care of their friends. You wonder if they’ll miss some of the things they have if you were to “just borrow” from them for a little while. You can let them invest in you by offering your services to them in the future. Sure! They won’t care. And you just promise yourself that when things get better, you’ll make it up to all those people you borrowed from. But just to be on the safe side, you can’t tell them it’s for keeping Goldy well taken care of. They might not understand since they don’t have anyone as swell to take care of.
Without a second concerned thought, you take what’s rightfully theirs so you can keep Goldy happy. Anything for Goldy. At first it’s enough but soon you realize that you’ll need more. Your old job is still a way in the future so you have no choice but to “borrow” more and more from “those” other people, and more often, too! You know they won’t mind. Hell, most of them don’t have Goldys to take care. Besides, “those” people seem to be doing just fine with their lives anyway, not that you really noticed. But you’re sure it’s ok. And after all, you WILL pay “those” people back. At least once you get back to the life you lived after things turn around for you (and after you make sure nothing will go wrong for you in the future). Yeah, they’ll understand. Some people, like yourself, need more things than “those” others and you ARE planning on repaying “those” people. Of course, you really borrowed such a small amount from “those” people, in total, that they may not even notice it. You did spread it around a lot. Just a little bit here and there from each of them and “those” people can go about their lives and never miss a couple of bucks. But you know you need more than they do and “those” people really can live the way they’ve always lived because they choose that life style. And Goldy really needs taken care of. After everything he’s done for you, even though occasionally, it seems difficult to remember how it was worth providing for him. But, it’s ok. He’ll always be there when you need him and even if you don’t pay EVERYTHING back to “those” people, it really isn’t that bad. They’ll get by.
Heck. “Those” people have lived like that so long they probably wouldn’t even notice if you didn’t pay them back at all! And if you can’t get to repaying “those” people for whatever reason, shucks, the government can help them. After all, it’s not like “those” people have a friend in need like Goldy!