Hi Ho

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During my high school days, I picked up a Kurt Vonnegut novel. I don’t remember which one (Slaughterhouse-Five maybe?), but I thoroughly enjoyed it and quickly finished it.

Hi ho.

I kept going back to the library, checking out another Vonnegut title as soon as I finished the current one.

Hi ho.

At one point, the librarian noted “it looks like someone is reading through all of Vonnegut’s books.” I admitted that was me. But I also admitted that there was a lot in his books that eluded me. I knew that the stories were often trying to make a bigger point, but I suspected that I was missing it.

* * *

Hunter and Grey were born in the same litter about 14 years ago, but didn’t look like brothers at all. Hunter was born with the looks and characteristics of a Chow-Chow (think of a puffy-lion dog), while Grey was born with the looks and characteristics of a Labrador Retriever.

In their younger days, they loved chasing rabbits and deer though they never caught either. We’ve have a little cabin surrounded by about 20 acres out in the country and I remember once seeing a graceful deer bounding down a trail behind the cabin. He was clearly moving quickly, with his strong legs helping him leap more than run. It was a peaceful scene, though quite brief as the deer quickly disappeared down the trail.

A moment later, Hunter and Grey appeared. They were out of breath, tired, and their legs were now just flailing helplessly as they gave up on the chase.

Hi ho.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the clash between the two scenes, the almost effortless grace of the deer and the complete exhaustion of the two dogs.

They saw me and quickly forgot about the chase, bounding toward me with their tongues hanging out and their tails wagging.

* * *

One of the last Vonnegut books I read was Slapstick. It had moments of inspiration with entertaining stories sprinkled throughout. But one thing really distracted me, even though I finished it.

Hi ho.

At what seemed to be completely random times, he simply started a new paragraph and finished it with just two words.

Hi ho.

Years later, I read where Vonnegut frequently used “Hi ho” in Slapstick to mark a death. If a person died, “Hi ho”. When a bottle of wine is emptied, “Hi ho”. If a book is read to the end, “Hi ho.” If a relationship ended, “Hi ho”.

I took this as truth and remembered it for a long time. Even today, when I hear “Hi ho” I think about death.

However, at some point I went back to the book to see if it is true. If it is, I can’t prove it. It may be there, but it is still eluding me.

Hi ho.

* * *

Hunter had a seizure over the weekend. He’s had these before but this one seemed worse. He had trouble getting up and walking.

On Monday, he fell down some stairs and hasn’t been able to get up. He’s been in obvious pain and discomfort so we took him to the vet hospital today. After an exam and some tests, the vet said she could give him pain meds, but he will need to depend on us for all of his mobility. She was compassionate and ultimately offered options.

We’ve loved having him for the last 14 years and he’s always given us unconditional love. He’s been a great companion to us.

Hi ho.

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