Thursday, 29 January 2009

Best Damn Dog

Tuesday would have been 18th birthday of my First True Canine Love. (There has not yet been a second, for the record, though I'm still dreaming of a shepherdish mutt in my future...) She came into my life the spring of my sixth grade year, not an otherwise happy time. My family was moving (houses, not towns) and my best friend (and first proper crush, ahem) had just moved out of state and... well, I was a total mess, socially, as all this girl/puberty stuff started catching up with me. Anyway, along came this awesome puppy, who became mostly my responsibility. She had stitches on her chin from an unfortunate encounter with another dog early in life (she was scrappy like that) and I would put a cream on it each evening and sing her to sleep. In the morning I woke up early and threw a ball for her as long as I could before school. She was instantly the love of my life.

She was a smart, funny dog. A wicked escape artist who could dig under anything, who would wriggle her way through any hole, and who would wander out through any open door. She swam like a champion and we dog-paddled side-by-side every summer of my adolescence. Cocky like me, she would actually chase after flying birds, and one winter almost got herself killed that way, launching herself into a fast-moving little ocean channel in pursuit of a seagull. She went under, as I tore after her, but before I got there she'd regained some footing and pulled herself out. She was tough as nails, in her way.

We walked hundreds of miles together during my high school years, along the edge of the roads of the little town where I grew up. She was never really well-trained--I think she was too smart and willful for that--but we understood each other. I remember the sense of calm companionship we had, three or four miles into a properly long walk, both of us having worked out the restlessness and settled into an even stride. Those walks are a series of happy memories from an otherwise very difficult time.

She slept in my bed or next to it just about every night. FG was not always happy about this, nor about her tendency to lick my face and attempt licking FG's face as well. It never bothered me, though.

I missed her like crazy when I went to college--I didn't live at home again, since I moved in with FG immediately after my freshman year, and so I didn't live with my dog again, either. I called in sick when she was dying, got on the first train I could out of New York and went to be with her. I spent her last night sleeping next to her on the floor, listening to her struggle to get enough air into her lungs, and I held her as she died the next day, euthanized by one of the vets I'd worked for in high school.

I still miss her. She was sassy and awesome and one of the best friends I've ever had. She had this look of confidence that I used to joke was her way of saying, "I'm the best damn dog YOU'LL ever have." And you know, I think she was right.

Best Damn Dog (1991-2004) (with half-sister in the background)

20 comments:

dolphyngyrl said...

What a beautiful, awesome dog. Sounds like she had a wonderful life, and you were blessed to have her with you.

*hugs*

Running away with the Spoon said...

Condolences for having lost such a wonderful true love and congratulations for having so truly loved and been loved.

For 17 years I loved my true love C, a black alpha male cat, and mourned his loss deeply for years, never knowing that I would find P, a silly, smart, funny, happy girl dog who is a morning face licker, too. I am grateful for all the time I have on this earth with them.

Freedomgirl said...

she WAS the best damn dog, with no question!

and she was super smart: she never ever tried to lick my face until leo started kissing me. then i guess she decided that if leo could kiss me, it must be okay for her to kiss me too...

B said...

Wow, what a beautiful dog. I miss my dog sooo much. Thank you for sharing your memories, and thanks for your post on my blog.

Jennie said...

what a pretty dog! how wonderful to have had her in your life!

givemespacetorock said...

oh my god, what a beautiful dog! she looks so sweet.

LL Cool Joe said...

That's such a cool story. I've never been into dogs, but we had 2 cats and my partner killed one of them by mistake reversing the car into her. :( That broke my heart to watch her die. She was 16 years old.

Tina-cious.com said...

OMG how GORGEOUS!!

Nothing beats a good dog.

Nothing. :)

I'm glad you two had each other :)

greg said...

She was so lucky to have someone who loved her as much as you did (and of course still do).

twoladiesinwaiting.com said...

Crying. At desk. At work.

Butch Boo said...

Oh I really feel for you Leo. She sounds like a wonderful friend and irreplaceable.

I had a pup given to me when I was 21- he was a scruffy ginger wirey mongrel- went by the name of Milburn. He slept with me in the crook of my arm most nights, we too walked hundreds of miles together. He was my constant- and almost 18 years spent at my side.

You are so brave to have held her when she died- I couldn't face it and had my mom take him to the vets. I know how you miss her I miss Milbrun every day.

Sending you lots of love

BB

X

saintchick said...

She is beautiful. We used to have a golden, 2 in fact. I miss them everyday.
I'm thrilled that your a dog kinda person :)

Sabrae Carter said...

Beautiful dog! :)

Asphalt Cowboy said...

Oh Gawd...if anyone understands, I'm there with you. My best friend of 15 years was put down in December, thank the Gods I wasn't home to see it. My 24 y/o brother was inconsolable.

And whatever you do, do NOT see/read Marley and Me...my yellow lab is still reaping the benefits. Cookies and tummy rubs all around!

MLC said...

Oh see looks like Walden -- a cool dog. Some are extra special and we'll never forget them or regret any of the special challenges they presented us with.

"Little Me" said...

aaawww, what a sweet and gentle friend. You are very lucky, those are the most loyal of dogs to have. I had my Molly until she got hit by a car a few years ago and she could dig her way out of everywhere too. She always had her toungue hanging out with those sparkly eyes that said "love me"

take care

Kyle said...

That was so sweet, thanks for sharing those memories with us. Makes me think of the animals that have been my good friends and companions through the years.

thissideofchanged said...

It's taken me a couple days to find words for a comment - I lost my oldest dog just a couple of weeks ago.

Thanks for sharing your sweet story.

total said...

Sweet, sweet post!

Maria said...

Once you love a dog, you just know how to do everything else better.