In my adult life I have had five dogs and like humans each one has had their own special personality. When I think about these creatures my thoughts always focus on where I was in my life and how that dog fit into the structure.
Dog number one was a spaniel we picked up at the shelter. My wife and I had been married about a year and this was our baby. He was a bundle of fur and energy, destroying a sofa and a chair when he escaped from our apartment kitchen one day while we were both at work. When we bought our first house I told people that we bought a fenced-in backyard that just happened to have a house on it. For the next five years he was the glue that held our new marriage together, the perfect first dog. He loved chasing a ball with Dad in the backyard and cuddling with his Mom in the evening. When he saw his leash in my hand he would get so excited he would pee on the floor. He knew a walk in the park and some squirrel chasing was headed his way. Fortunately we were still young and poor so we couldn’t afford anything but hand-me-down area rugs.
His world and ours changed with the arrival of our first child. He didn’t take moving down the pecking order as gracefully as I thought he would. No matter how hard I tried to pay attention to his wants and needs, a baby becomes the sun which your life orbits around. Fortunately he settled into a routine accepting his lot in life but he never really bonded with our child. Sadly, he developed cancerous tumors and we had to put him down at the young age of eight years old.
He had a special blanket, the one thing he didn’t rip to shreds, over most of his life. He would drag his blanket around the house searching for a sunny spot or a lap to curl up in. When my wife would wash it he would bolt out the door rubbing his blanket in the dirt and grass to get that “new car” smell off it. As you can imagine, this did not make his Mom very happy.
I wrapped him in that blanket as my wife drove us to the vet one last time. He was sick and weak but I could still see his love for me shinning in those big brown eyes. I placed the blanket on the cold metal table and as he had done a hundred times at the foot of our bed, he curled up in a ball on top of it. I rubbed his head and told him that I loved him as the vet placed an IV in his leg and within a minute he was asleep, and then gone. The vet left and gave me a few minutes alone with him. My wife couldn’t go in with me, it was just too hard for her. I cried and thanked this little guy for his love, devotion and patience’s over the last eight years, eight years that added value to our lives and honestly would have been a vacant space without him.
I think about this fellow often. I think about how simple our life was then, just the three of us. He was always under our feet, never wanting to miss an opportunity to be in the middle of whatever we were doing whether it was barking at his mortal enemy the vacuum cleaner or chasing a tennis ball until my arm felt like it was going to fall off. It seems like a long time ago now but in reality it was just moments ago, moments I still cherish.
I cried when I wrote this, this thank you that was long overdue. Thank you my friend, dog #1.