Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sweet Boy

Random the Great and Fearless. Hunter of squirrels, chaser of cats, snuffler of snow. Lover of lobster, steak, and blueberries. Mama’s boy.

When I was in high school, I used to come home at 3:00 and take Random out for his walk. I’d put on his leash, give him the handle end to hold in his mouth, then pause with my hand on the doorknob and count to three. When I’d open the door, that dog would burst forth like someone had lit a fire under his furry brown behind, and he’d run all the way down to the corner before stopping to give me back his leash so we could continue our walk like civilized human beings.

This was a dog who loved life. Marching down the sidewalk by his mother’s side, ears flapping in the wind, smelling all the smells, he was the happiest dog in the world. Resting against his sister’s leg as they lay flat out in the middle of a grassy field, watching the clouds go by, he was the most content a dog had ever been. Greeting his family as they returned home at the end of the day, with snorts and snuffles, wagging tail, and full-body wiggles, he was chock full of all the joy in the world.

When his people were sitting around the table at breakfast or dinner, Random always monitored the floor for morsels of escaped food. He liked to sneak up to your chair, lay his cold, wet nose on your knees, and peer up at you under the tablecloth. It was a tactic that was most effective in summer, when his people would be wearing shorts. “One bite of steak,” he’d plead. “Just one. Maybe a carrot or three. And can you please please please leave the butter on the table when you’re done?” Many days, we would all go off to work or school in the morning and come home at the end of the day to find the salt and pepper shakers knocked over and the tablecloth wrinkled – sure proof that someone had gone scavenging for breakfast scraps as soon as we’d left the house.

Random adored his Daddy. He lived for the corner of peanut butter toast that Dad would give him at breakfast, and when Dad would come home at night, Random would make a beeline for the closet where his dinner was kept. This was a dog who knew from whom his blessings flowed. He also adored his mother. When Mom, the silly lady that she is, took off in a canoe with one of her people daughters, Random didn’t waste a moment. The dog whose archenemy was water and everything it represents leapt right into that lake and swam out to rescue them. When Mom, the numbskull, failed to learn her lesson and went for a swim, Random the Brave saved the day again.

There are so many things that we will miss. The way his enjoyment of dinner could be quantified by how far across the kitchen floor he’d push his bowl (from one side to the other if his crunchies were dribbled with giblets and gravy). The way he’d curl right up against you when he slept so that if you moved he’d be sure to know about it. The way he cocked his head to the side when you spoke to him, as though he was giving serious consideration to what you were saying. The way he’d sing for his supper if you wound him up enough. The way he’d stick his nose on the ground and his bum in the air in preparation for a great ball chase. The way he greeted you as though you were the Second Coming every time you walked in the door, regardless of how long you’d been gone – five minutes, five hours, a year.

My sweet boy. How we will miss that floppy-eared bundle of fur.

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