At the risk of alienating half my readers, although I fully understand and respect their importance and value to others, I admit that I’m not a dog person. I don’t want to take care of a dog or be tied down to a dog’s schedule. I don’t like being jumped on (my friend Martha the Dog Trainer could help with that), I don’t like having dogs climb into my lap, I hate being licked, and doggie smell is one of my least favorite ones.
Only two dogs in my adult life have nuzzled all the way through these barriers to my heart. One was my father’s miniature Alaskan, Pixie, who could have charmed a smile from Ebenezer Scrooge. The other was my daughter’s rescued greyhound, Walker. Perhaps the fact that neither of them lived with me helped seal my half of our mutual affection, but neither of them jumped on me, invaded my space, or licked me, and their doggie smell was mild.
When my daughter announced yesterday that Walker was in such constant pain that his meds no longer worked and all he could do was moan, she asked that friends and family send stories about him as a memorial. That’s a request I was happy to oblige.
I described the way our relationship began with a good crotch sniff and was cemented with dozens of trips out to check Walker’s “Pee-Mail.’ Greyhounds lack a keen sense of smell or direction, so he was hopeless as a guide, but on our rambles I had amble time to ogle some of the most elegant and historic mansions in Austin.
I mentioned how gentle and patient he was with occasionally rough tots, and his antics when left alone long enough to get bored. I recalled how his lean good looks and knowing gaze reminded me of a canine Sean Connery, and when he wore his scarlet paisley fleece “smoking jacket”, I imagined he had a long black cigarette holder and martini stashed nearby. He was straight out of Esquire and perfectly suited to play the lead in spy thrillers.
Since I spent only a few weeks with Walker in the eight years he lived with my daughter’s family, my stories are limited, but I hope that they are a comfort now, and a source of memories for my granddaughters in years to come.
Especially for those of us who do not have animals in our daily lives, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that their passing leaves a void in the lives of their immediate human families as surely as if they were also human. Just as stories of departed people help us through their passing, so pet stories can ease pet owners through this knothole of loss.
Write now: about animals in your life, past or present. Perhaps they were your own pets, maybe borrowed ones, or even wild animals that touched your spirit. Write about someone else’s animal and share the story with them.