Tuesday, July 12, 2011

a note to my dog

Dear Gidders,

This is, I think, my farewell note to you.  It's probably weird to write a note to my dog, but sometimes I think you're smart enough that you'd understand half the words here if I read it out loud.

Seven years ago, when we went back to the dog adopt-a-thon after not finding you the first time, I think Shea was rolling his eyes.  Allie was a crazy dog, and we (or was it just me?) were hoping a playmate might settle her.  You tumbled out of the cage into Shea's lap - sweet eyes just wanting cuddles and love, something you'd not had much of in your first year of life.  You and Allie were wrestling before we were finished with the paperwork.  Turns out, this was a special relationship you'd have with her.  We already knew she didn't play nice with many other dogs.  You didn't play at all.  Except with Allie.  It was regular party entertainment to watch you two "kids" wrestle.  Amazingly, I think in 7+ years we only had one wrestling-related trip to the vet - an eye scratch. 

You stole all the toys and kept them in your bed, rustled in bike bags to rescue powdered drink mixes that needed to be eaten, chewed through jersey pockets for gu wrappers and always left Allie the beef jerky.  Walked in a straight line on the sidewalk, never veering.  Chased the frisbee until your tongue was twice as long as your snout. And all the pet-sitters we ever had told me that you followed the rules they didn't know about.  Sit at the corner. Sit to get your food.  Oh, wait, except the one about not getting on the couch.

Do you remember your first onions?  I was making soup in the Salt Lake kitchen, where the walk from the countertop to the stove was more than 2 steps.  Handful of onions went crashing to the floor.  I kept going, threw the rest in the pot.  The rest were gone when I turned around.  You were a weird dog.  Onions?  Raw garlic?  We even tried hot sauce to keep you from eating something off the table.  I spilled some on the floor in the process. You licked it up and begged for more.

What about the mushrooms?  I think we left a gate open and went to Home Depot.  Allie was behind the picket fence when we got home - you were sitting nicely in the neighbor's yard.  An hour later, you were puking.  Up came something that resembled chicken.  Some excellent detective work by Shea revealed you'd mowed down a patch of wild mushrooms next door.  And I mean mowed.  We only figured out what you'd eaten because you'd left a single stem under a rock.

You were always the one I could take anywhere.  A toddler, tugging on your leash insistently, while you dozed at the farmer's market.  You rolled your eyes and didn't budge.  Tied in the back of the car at many a 'cross race.  Running.  Okay, walking while I "ran".  Into lab when I was a grad student. To mom's, where the doors were more interesting than any of the herdable animals.  Where you helped during strawberry picking by catching every soft one we threw in your direction. Of course, the single best place to be was being petted by anyone, while looking at me.

But sometimes, your timidness came out.  The Steelers parties in Salt Lake... Allie would play with the big dogs.  You'd hide under my legs until all of the sudden, something good or bad happened in the game and that wasn't a safe place to be any more...  Remember our first hike together?  Shea had to carry you across a little stream with a log bridge.  You were so scared.  But then you learned.  Followed the trail without fail.  Curled up in the tent vestibule, trembling through a thunderstorm.  Carried the pack when Allie was too tired, having been kept up all night by a talkative chipmunk.  Discovered the thrill of chasing a squirrel. Trundled up and down the trails in Bountiful, Park City and Moab while I rode, staying behind my wheel on the downhills and pulling me up the climbs.  Listened obediently when we saw hundreds of sheep, a few sheepdogs and other border collies, and, oh yeah, the herders with guns on their horses.

We drove across the country together, just you and I.  The only time you got to sit in the front seat.  I had too many bikes and things in the back of the Focus for you to fit.  We both made it through whole tanks of gas at a time.  I got more than a little freaked out by the weird trucker dude who thought I'd abandoned you, tied to a tree with a water bowl while I went inside for 5 minutes to use the ladies room.  I'll bet that hamburger he gave you tasted good, though.

You were a good dog.  More my dog than any I ever had as a kid.  More my dog than Shea's. Here's hoping that in puppy heaven for Gideon, you have hundreds of tomato plants to eat cherry tomatoes off the vine.  The wild mushrooms are plentiful and non-toxic.  The frisbees fly high, the grass is lush for rolling in, and the paths all go interesting places. You get cuddles all the time.  I know you... you'll miss your people there.  But we won't forget you.  I'll miss ya buddy.  You were a good dog.  Seven years was not enough.

1 comment:

  1. ((hugs))...so sorry.
    what a lovely note & what a beautiful sentiment, Becky.