The loss of a good friend

I remember the first time I ever saw Oreo. I promised my son a dog once we bought our house. It had been just the two of us for a few years and I wanted my son to have his own room; his own yard. That just lead to having his own dog.
We walked into the kennel and all the dogs started jumping with excitement. It was like the word was out, “Someone was going to leave the kennel with this little boy!”They all wanted to be chosen. They all tried to look their cutest. Except for the puppy in the cage all alone on the far left of the kennel.

She was so cute, but looked so sad. While all of the dogs were adorable, it was clear that this little girl needed a boy–as well as a boy’s mom–to love. We decided to take her home with us then and there, and quickly she became a member of the family. It didn’t take long for us to fall into a wonderful routine. She greeted me every day after work with stories of her day. She spoke her words with her eyes, a wag of her tail and a special ‘welcome home bark’; telling me how her day was filled with excitement. She was all about pointing out the activity in the neighborhood. “Really”, I’d say, “There’s a new kitty across the street? Let’s wait for her.” That’d be all it would take. We’d sit on the couch and look out the bay windowand wait for the newest tabby to venture into our yard. She lived for the excitement of it all. Or when time allowed, it was always a treat for both of us to curl up on that same couch and take a nap, me on one end and she on the other. She’d wrap herself into the folds of the blankets around my legs like a glove. We fit together so perfectly.Or she would hang her head when she was sad. I’d take my morning walk at 5:00 each morning and since she was a “sniffing” dog (she walks ten feet and needs to sniff) I’d leave her at home for my serious go around. She would be so sad when I left. I’d see her little face in the window at the same place every morning … waiting for me to turn the corner on the street and head back to her. She knew she’d get the last part of the walk. A shorter leg of the trip so she could have time doing what she liked to do best … sniff!

And she was an ever vigilant protector. She would not let anyone in the yard without first announcing their arrival. To make sure I was safe, she would always put herself between me and other dogs on our walks. Her sense of loyalty and responsibility was beyond measure. But it wasn’t just me. Once she knew you were part of the extended family, she watched your back, too. When my son’s friends spent Hour after hour at our house … the place where all the kids hung out … she became territorial over all of them. No one would ever attempt to cause these young boys harm. She was all about family.

But time passes and her ferociousness waned. She began to spend more and more of her days in her favorite chair, sleeping or just looking out the window. Even new kitties stopped exciting her. Life had slowed down for my friend. The only constant was that she still wanted to tell me about her day when I came in after work. Her news wasn’t as grand as it had been in years past, but she wanted to share everything with me.Then the day came when she no longer came to greet me. She stayed in her chair. She welcomed a scratch of the ear and a smile from those she loved, but without a word of warning, she entered her winter years of life.

Her chair is empty now.

On that sunny day in September, I thought it was a great idea to get a dog for my son. I wanted him to experience the joys and responsibilities of owning a dog. I had no idea she would forever have a place in my heart.

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