He was the best dog. Ever.
I know you’d say that about your dog, too. And it would be true as well. We dog lovers are fiercely loyal to our own. As it should be.
My friend, owner of Topaz, a golden Lab of amazing intellect and beauty, decided that I needed my own dog–hoping, I think, that, after they sniffed their ways through the doggie version of speed dating, they’d like each other and become soul mates, if dogs aspire to such things. So, one day, he took me on a trip to my hometown to meet Aspen, although I had no clue what this adventure was about.
Aspen was standing behind the screen door when we walked up to the house. Samoyeds are always happy, their tails wag and their mouths are wide open. He was beautiful. His long, white hair around his curly tail was carefully combed and stood, just so, against his wirey body. He was smiling. (They do smile, you know.)
I knocked at the door and the owner of the Aspendog (as he came to be known) appeared a bit frazzled. She and her husband were getting a divorce and wouldn’t be able to keep him in her new apartment. How easily we abandon pets–part of our families, part of our lives–I thought. But, on the other hand, we have to deal with things in the best ways possible. In this case, the lady was looking for a good home for her dog.
I fell in love with him immediately. His smile, his coat, his demeanor. He was big–in contrast to the terrier-mix I had as a child–and was getting bigger.
It turned out that, at five months, the Aspendog was not house broken, trained or—well—anything. I have stories. Lots of them. Too many.
We worked through all that, and he did become the best friend of Topaz the Wonderdog who, in her more mature and ladylike manner, knew how to deal with his taunts, and nose pushes and licking.
Besides Topaz, Aspen loved many things including squirt cheese, cold weather and fingers. It took me some time to figure that last one out. That is, until it dawned on me that his original playmates were children who often got their fingers into very interesting things–interesting, especially if you’re a dog. Things like child smells and candy and love. That’s why he licked everything, always. Yes, it’s true.
A few years later when Topaz passed on, Aspen couldn’t say anything. He could only deal with what he experienced—life without his friend. It is much the same way we feel when a friend leaves us, except that, sometimes, we can call them on the phone and talk. Perhaps we should call.
Aspen was my dog for seven years. He would look forlorn when I left for the day, and he would love me when I came home at night. He didn’t judge. He only made me feel right.
Then, one night, he couldn’t stand up. On his face were the same fear and love that were on mine. He looked into my eyes and I looked into his. He’d become a best friend. I could not ask for more in the world, except to hope that he wasn’t leaving.
But he did.
Today, I remember him.
You can lick my fingers, buddy…
Perhaps someone you care about isn’t close by anymore. Know that they are with you. Always. Just like mom and dad. Just like Aspen and Topaz.
We really aren’t alone. Ever.