Remember when you picked me and I picked you? There was a little family whose parents were getting divorced. They couldn’t keep you and the children were so sad. But they let you out of your cage and you leaped into my lap. And we promised you a great life. And you were never caged again.
Remember when you jumped out of a moving vehicle? On our way to OBEDIENCE class? And remember how you FAILED obedience class because you wouldn’t respond to your name? I guess the teacher didn’t hear us when we mentioned that we changed your name to Dexter at 6 months old. Isn’t full-on immersion best anyway? Just forget about that old name you had…
Remember when I didn’t fully comprehend the energy level of a hyperactive Labrador? And how you pulled me down to the ground as you chased after the neighbor’s dog, in FRONT of my neighbor? Not sure how you looked in front of that Golden you were trying to impress, but I’m sure I looked TOTALLY CLASSY.
Remember when Earl taught you how to swim? Because unlike most Labs, you didn’t instinctively know how. You didn’t fetch or retrieve either, but you loved to chase after a good rock tossed into the lake. I’ll never understand that, but it was uniquely you.
Remember when you ate that $400 check? And the play-dough that landed us in the ER? Oh, and about 80% of Earl’s memories when you tried to take out his photo album entitled, “On the Road with Maynard Ferguson…” (That one went over REAL well.) You were our first “baby” and you taught us some things about parenting. Like how to baby-proof our house and how we might never have “nice” things again until everyone moves out. And that’s okay. Because a busy house is far better than nice things.
Remember when we bought our CRV for our growing family? I picked it out so I could “put the Dooze in the back.”
Remember when we brought home two babies? You didn’t have a jealous bone in your body. You had enough love for everyone.
Remember when Logan started crawling? He crawled all the way over to your penis and gave it a nice tug (sorry about that). Remember how he would wrestle with you and try to ride you like a horse? You were so patient and gentle with him. If dogs could receive crowns, you would have many. And I’m quite convinced that you have been marked a saint in Heaven and that you are sitting at the very feet of Jesus of Himself.
For the record: Logan DID feed you well. Mostly his vegetables and all other unappealing parts of his dinner. And you checked on him as he slept most nights, so I know you loved him too – in SPITE of the penis-tugging incident. Let’s add “forgiving” to your list of good qualities.
Remember how you used to give us “hugs” by going through our legs? You were also known to “hug” unsuspecting guests. Not weird at all. And our children were both tall enough to get a “hug” this past year. Just so you know, it was a big deal.
Remember when we started this funny tradition of making “pupcakes” for your birthday and homemade dog biscuits for Christmas? You didn’t care for toys… You wanted to RIDE in the car. And HIKE and SWIM and ROMP around in the snow. And EAT. We were always careful to feed you well, and these treats were doled out only on special occasions.
Remember when I would assign you to “homework duty,” and Stella would read to you? She would wrap you up in blankets and snuggle in close. Remember when she would dress you up in wigs, and “100 days of school” glasses, and make you rainbow loom bracelets and paint your nails yellow? (Again, so patient.) I know she was your special lady and you loved each other well.
Remember that unexpected morning at the river? You were an old man, but you SWAM like a pup that day!
Remember our last days together? We took you to the reservoir and ate donuts out of the back of our CRV. We fed you all the things: eggs, peanut butter, McDonald’s hamburgers and biscuits and biscuits and BISCUITS! We took you to the reservoir again, in a wheelbarrow/chariot and you swam one more time. We met three dogs there that day, usually it’s so quiet in our little spot. Two of them had broken out of their electric fences and had no owner with them. They swam with you and whimpered like they knew it was your time to go. I think they might have been angels.
And then I said good-bye to you, with your sweet chin in my lap. We had come full circle since that first day when you climbed into it.
Our house is quiet now and we miss you so. I come home to an empty house most days and it’s strange. Because I don’t think I’ve been alone here in over 12 years.
I still hike our favorite trails, because strangely I feel like I’ll “meet” you there.
That spot in the kitchen, where your drool had stained my hard wood floors after so many years? I no longer despise it. It’s the mark of you watching over me as I cooked every meal, just waiting for something to fall.
We’re still figuring out how to be a family without a dog. It will take some time because we’ve never ever known that. In the meantime, we will celebrate your life. All the love you gave to us and all of the special memories we have. Thank you for being such a good, and patient, and loving, (and forgiving) and faithful friend…