From a dog's view

The last word
By Brad Lowell
As I sat, holding Bounder Sunday evening, we had our final conversation.
“I'm getting tired and time is running out on me,” Bounder said as he slowly wagged his tail and looked up at me with his big black eyes.
“I know little buddy,” I said. “I will miss our conversations not to mention your faithfulness and friendship these past 17 years. You and Lee were my rocks of Gibraltar during my recent illness and got me through those rough times. I will be forever grateful.”
“Enough of the mushy stuff,” Bounder said. “Originally, as I was thinking about my final words I thought my parting shot would be to encourage the hospital board to build at the existing location. After all, I've received excellent health care at the Concordia Small Animal Clinic which is located at the extreme west end of 11th Street. A lot of the opposition that I hear seems to be about the location.”
 “However, I'm not going to do that,” Bounder said. “But, I will interject that in Europe state-of-the-art medicine is delivered in aging facilities at about half the cost as in the U.S. Do they have codes to deal with?”
“You couldn't leave it alone, could you?” I scolded.
“And, then I thought I would go into a long discussion about the benefits of the Affordable Health Care Act and how without requiring everyone to purchase health care insurance the ability to pay for the other provisions of the law will be nearly impossible,” Bounder said. “As a matter of fact, did you know that in America the cost of providing health care to the uninsured is $116 billion a year with 63 percent of that amount being picked up by those of you who are insured?”
“It's funny how in Germany the mandate that every citizen have health care coverage is accepted without controversy because of a commitment to national solidarity and in this country the individual mandate is currently being challenged by 26 states in the Supreme Court,”  Bounder waxed on.
“Of  course, there is a solution being touted by former Secretary of Labor and University of California professor Robert Reich which would solve the problem by allowing everyone to participate in Medicare. A similar solution offered by Dr. Maria Angell, a senior lecturer in social medicine at the  Harvard Medical School, suggests lowering the Medicare age gradually, one decade at a time, beginning with age 55.
“Dr. Angell points out that Medicare outperforms private insurance on every measure. She also said that it insures nearly everyone older than 65 for the entire package of benefits, no one can be excluded or dropped from coverage and its overhead is very low.”
“But, no, I'm not going to go into that nor will I go into the proposed cuts in the Pell Grant program and other reductions in aid to public education,” Bounder said.
“And, of course,  there is the outcry from some institutions that their freedom of religion is being usurped because the cost of contraceptives is included in their health care insurance policies,” he mused. “How can the law be considered an infringement on religious freedoms, when women still have the right to decide whether or not they will use contraception? If a woman because of religious or moral reasons doesn't want to use contraceptives, she doesn't have to.”
“Sadly, we four-legged creatures don't have the luxury of being able to decide about whether we choose contraception or not,” Bounder said. “Depending on our gender, you humans decide  whether it will be neutering or spaying.”
“Another thing that makes me want to howl at the moon is when politicians liken the national debt to  family debt which is a false analogy according to a book written by Simon Johnson, professor of economics at MIT and James Kwak, a professor at the University of Connecticut,” Bounder said.  “The authors point out in their book that the size of the debt is only remarkable because of the amount of interest which must be paid each year and that as a percent of the gross domestic product, U.S. government spending is low compared to other nations with advanced economies.”
“Unfortunately, most Americans don't have the time or energy to read about public policy issues and instead base their voting decisions on slogans, sound bites or political party affiliation,” he said.
Bounder cocked his head and then said, “Before I go I would like to give a great big shout out in favor of the proposed new jail here in Cloud County. I know $6 million sounds like a lot of money, but when you stop to think about it in addition to needing a new jail the new facility also offers an economic development opportunity.”
“Well enough, Bounder, what else would you like to say?” I asked.
“ I would like to add that life here in America has been awfully good to me,” Bounder said as I scratched his back. “Certainly, America has its share of problems including its educational system, but by the same token there is a lot to admire in the young people of today because they are doing exceptional things. Take your granddaughter Leah as an example, a 4.0 student who could have chosen just about any profession and been successful, but she chose to become a teacher and have a positive influence on young minds. And, then there is your grandson Devin, who for the past two years worked for Americorp doing environmental cleanup in New Orleans. You might say he is paying it forward.”
“I know it is easy to sometimes be discouraged, but take faith in the fact that when there is indeed a crisis in this country the voters have come through to elect presidents like Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and even an unlikely candidate like Harry Truman,” Bounder said.
“So, I'll leave you with this one last thought, hug someone today; it will make both of you feel good. I know that, because for me there was nothing better in life than a good scratching behind the ears.”
 -30-

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