Maybe it's my largely Irish gene pool that stirs me to write when death has come. On Friday August 29th the end came for my dear father who at 77 had been fighting the effects of Alzheimer's Disease for several years. My father is the reason we nearly always had a dog in the house growing up. There were spots of time in my youth when there wasn't a dog but they seem brief as I think back on it. The nuts and bolts of my childhood seemed always accompanied by a family dog. There was Buddy, a shepherd/hound mix who I remember only in flashes as being goofy and fun loving. Sadie, a flat coated retriever mix who probably suffered the most for my ignorance. A spectacularly cute puppy, she lived with us until she bit the paperboy. A vicious dog hearing followed, then she was sent off to live at a no-kill shelter in Sutton, MA, or so my sisters and I were told at the time. Finally, Meisha, a spirited Lhasa Apso came into the picture near the end of my parent's marriage. That year saw a new house and a new car as well. While my understanding of the more noteworthy events from that year have grown more nuanced with time, these acquisitions would form the basis for a vague sense of dread and foreboding. I'd said to a friend at the time, "This will all be over in a year." It wouldn't take that long. These various offerings would be for naught. My family as I'd understood to be, would come to a dramatic end one summer evening in August 1984. Meisha would be sent off to live with a retired former drill sergeant. A good call for his well being at the time but I remember resenting that he'd been cast off like old luggage. He was not treated like family as he should have been.
Many years have passed since then and while my Father would really only have one other dog, a sweet black lab who passed too soon, my sisters and I seemed to always have them. What's interesting in retrospect is also one of the personality traits I see so frequently in dogs, a gentle outpouring of affection towards people who are struggling with something. Of course this is not universally true but it does seem to dominate my anecdotal landscape and it most certainly held true when it came to how the family's dogs behaved around my Dad. All of our dogs were drawn to him these last few years, each of them exercising what in some cases (Miles) was uncharacteristic gentleness, unbridled kindness. I'd like to say I could ruin this entry with the sound scientific principles that explain this phenomenon, however I am blissfully ignorant of them and content to admire what I've seen at face value.
|Young Addie with my Dad for a ride in the car.|
|Katy at my father's bedside|
|Dad, his wife Marcia and my sister's dog Lila|
|Louie at his most content wrapped up in warm blankets out of the dryer.|