Joey, a golden retriever, and Maggie, a black lab, were two hairy and huge freebies that were part of the package that brought Josh into my daughter’s life. Lauren, meanwhile, had a little canine of her own, Ella Rufus.
So it was that when Lauren and Josh said “I do” four years ago, about 250 pounds of unconditional love was part of the equation.
Joey was majestically special. He reminded me of the older brother in many large families – the quiet, brooding, protective type. At times he seemed indifferent to all the Sturm und Drang his younger – and smaller – siblings could cause and stoically went about his business.
Yet he was always there, ready to push his weight around if there was a little extra kibble to be had or – even better – a friendly pat on his noggin was available. Truth to tell, there was a world-weary melancholy that hovered about Joey, a sense that in some doggie fashion he comprehended stuff that was just outside the realm of human understanding.
A few years ago, when Lauren and Josh were out of the city, the lovely Miss Wendy and I were handling dog-sitting duties. Wendy begged off after the first night and I found myself, literally, bedding down with three hairy hounds one evening.
Ella nuzzled up against my side and Maggie rested her head across my chest. Joey stood off to the side of the bed, examining his options and, apparently, waiting for a special invitation. I did mention he was huge, right? If he stood up on his haunches my noggin would be the logical place for him to rest his paws.
I glanced his way, lifted an inquisitive brow and in an instant he was standing over me. For the next few minutes he did that little doggie dance of slowly chasing his tail, looking for that special, elusive sweet spot before settling down across the foot of the bed.
He let out with a contented sigh, rolled over on his side and began snoring. And this is the crazy thing about it all. The little twitching and murmuring and, yes, even the snoring was bizarrely comforting. Go figure.
And so it’s with apologies to Eric Segal that I finish this remembrance by paraphrasing the opening line of his sappy novel, “Love Story”.
What can you say about a 13-year-old golden retriever who died? Well, actually, lots of stuff. But mostly, at the moment, I’m thinking the important thing is that he was loved.