Fourteen years ago, you were splay-footed and tiny,
cavorting around the front yard, barely old enough
to be on your own. You had been fed the wrong kinds of food
for a puppy, and as a result, you had some unpleasant
gastrointestinal difficulties. I applied a salve with an inside-out
sandwich baggie. It was the first time I’d cared for something that young.
You were Amanda’s dog, and it was pretty easy to tell.
I liked watching you two pal around.
It was uncanny, how friendly you were to almost everyone.
You grew to be much larger than I expected, but despite your
lab, chow, and boxer roots, you were gentle.
There may or may not have been a few times that you escaped
the back yard fence with the help of a certain ornery dachshund.
Anyone driving up would see two tails wagging as you both sat
on the front porch, pleased with your escapades.
As the years passed, you were a constant: I knew I’d see you
when I visited Mom and Dad, and I knew that you would swing that
giant otter tail of yours and walk over slowly, as if to say,
“I haven’t seen you in a while, and I’m happy you’re here again.”
I even ended up with a miniature, high-strung version of you, and
as was your custom, you became friends with her, too.
One of the great joys in life was watching you turn back into a puppy
in her company.
I’m not sure what it’s going to be like with just one dog on that porch, or in that yard.
We resign ourselves to knowing that one day we’ll deal with the inevitable,
since the years seem to wear you down so much more quickly than they do
us. There really isn’t a way to prepare to say goodbye, though. There probably
never will be. It’s one of the great sadnesses in life, losing a friend like you.
So here are a few meager words in your honor.
Thank you for the joy you brought to our family. Thank you for the times you
listened to tears and gave hugs. Thank you for the heavy thump of your tail, and the
insistent way you poked your head into our laps. Thank you for walking with us, even
as you got older and your legs sometimes gave out inexplicably.
(We didn’t expect that either, and pretending that you slipped worked better for me too.)
Thank you for being such a kind spirit, and for blessing our lives for such a long time.