Ben Stein's Diary

Losing Cleo

 Just too damn sad. Now she is heaven.

By 6.20.12

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Monday
Sad, sad day. Cleo, our ancient German short-haired pointer, is barely able to walk. When she does walk, she tends to fall down in her own mess. For this majestically beautiful girl, it must be deeply upsetting. She cannot go up or down the steps in Beverly Hills, and she is extremely hard to carry.

So, Cleo, wake up. Time to die. We had the euthanizing veterinarian come over after dinner and attend to her. We all sat and petted her for a long, long time, took souvenirs of her hair, kissed her over and over, and then the vet gave her a shot of some kind of tranquilizer and then some horrible, gruesome drug that stops her heart and then she was history.

Los Angeles being Los Angeles, a highly paid service was waiting outside the door to put her body on a stretcher and cover her in silks and woolens and then carry her to their car. Only her noble head was showing. What a magnificent girl she was. Now, her body will be cremated and will be in a brass urn in the forest of urns of our formerly alive pets that stands next to our fireplace.

We had Cleo for ten years. She was always a good girl except when she chased the (eight) cats and she got over that soon. The house seemed painfully empty without her. So, we loaded our ancient selves into the car and drove out to Malibu.

Neither of us felt much like talking.

When we got to Malibu, I tried to watch movies on TV, but Charter, my pitiful cable company, from whom I just got full movie service three weeks ago, has stopped sending me movies. Very maddening.

Instead of watching movies, I lay in bed and listened to the waves. I could hear an owl and see airplanes flying up the coast. How many times Cleo lay with Brigid and me or Julie and me, breathing quietly. Now, she is in heaven with other good dogs.

Two owls were outside my room hooting loudly. Many other night birds sang. Still, I miss my Cleo desperately.

Tuesday
I was so wrong about there always being a businessman as the villain of all Hollywood movies. I should have said, "most" Hollywood shows. But the main one I missed was my favorite, from Starz, Magic City. There, the villain is a mean-spirited prosecutor. An interesting character in an interesting show.

At noon, I raced down from our little house to Pepperdine to give a speech to high school juniors attending the Summer Youth Citizenship Event. What a shock. These kids were really smart. I sought to explain to them why the economy was not recovering and that it had to do in part with workers unwilling to accept low wage jobs and producers and sellers unwilling to lower prices. This, as I explained to them, hinders what some people might refer to as "internal devaluation," if I understand that phrase rightly.

To my delight, the students seemed fascinated by that concept and asked many follow up questions.

This is a very good sign. But there were also bad signs. Almost every student in the room raised his hand when I asked how many knew someone close to their family who had recently been unemployed and everyone raised his hand when I asked how many knew a family who had lost their home to foreclosure.

That is extremely discouraging.

Outside as I walked back to my car, I met a man about two years older than I am who had been a brave Navy F-4 pilot over Vietnam. He had been shot down and held captive for six years. "Yes," he said, "the North Vietnamese had been brutal and cruel." This was an amazingly handsome, good-natured man. I was awed.

Back home, wifey and I had hot dogs, packed and drove home to Beverly Hills.

Then, a long nap and then dinner with John "Baron" Von Kannon and his beautiful daughter, Rachel, to talk about colleges. John is a super successful development guy at Heritage. We talked about the election. He is optimistic. I am not. The daughter could not be more charming.

Then back home to a house that seems extremely sad without the familiar sight and sound of Cleo. This is just too damned sad. But what a superstar that Navy pilot is. Wow. What a country that has men in it like him.

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.