The LuLac Edition #3201, May 1st, 2016
I was reluctant at first to get another dog after Monty. But when Mrs. FB and I took a ride to see some Westies in the fall of 1999, I agreed saying we’d think about it. I was fairly confident we would not come home with a dog because I was going to insist the dog be named “Albert Flasher” after a Guess Who song of the early 70s. I knew she’d never go for that. But when this little white fur ball grabbed her purse on the ground and started dragging it, well there was some message coming from somewhere I guess. Knowing I wouldn’t win the “Albert Flasher” battle, I suggested we name the dog “McKinley” after the first President of the 20th century. It was 1999 after all and the new century was upon us….yada yada yada.
Upon arrival the dog did puppy things like eating sneakers, corners of furniture and even a giant basketball that Sunoco used to give out as a premium. I even did battle with him as he was attempting to reassemble a pair of my Cole Hahn dress shoes. It was a tug of war. The Cole Hahns and I won….barely. My shoes were relegated to higher shelves after that.
Mrs. FB thought her “puppy” would become a mature dog but much to her chagrin he became a “guy”. And like all guys he didn’t take any sort of change well.
Wonder what dogs do when you’re not home? I do. McKinley had a schedule and it had everything to do with his people. My mother in law lived in the downstairs unit of our home. When he came to us she was homebound and had a care giver that came from 9am to 3pm Monday through Friday. One day I was home from work and witnessed his routine. After spending the night with his downstairs friend, sleeping at the foot of her bed, he took a stroll outside, did what we all do in the morning and returned to the foot of her bed. Then at precisely 9am when the caregiver arrived he went to our upstairs unit, promptly parked himself on the sofa and stayed there. At 3pm when he heard that door close, he went down and presumably watched game shows with his older lady friend. When my mother in law died in 2011, he wandered downstairs for a good while looking for her.
Upstairs, during the summer months he would love darting toward a stool under the window at the slightest noise and survey the neighborhood scene. He’d bark at delivery people, college students, other people walking dogs, everybody. A neighbor on North Main who always walked her dog got such a kick out of him that we both dubbed him “The Pope of North Main Street” as he greeted what in his mind were his subjects.
He was a sweet dog with a live and let live attitude except for one time when he started to duke it out with two pit bulls in our driveway. The larger dogs seemed momentarily stunned and seemed to be thinking, “WTF”? That gave a still unidentified passerby the chance to scoop him up and lateral him to me as I grabbed him and got him safely inside the house leash and all. That confirmed my belief there is a God who protects drunks, idiots and smaller dogs.
As he got older the spirit was still there if not the agility. Twice he miscalculated steps and went tumbling down a flight of stairs. We were horrified until he picked himself up, shook himself and started to wag his tail. However in my mind he had the look on his face that Larry Fine usually had after a work over by Moe and Curly. We started closing inside doors after that.
He loved his treats provided by Mrs. FB but could always count on me to provide him with Pepperoni and some Sanitary Bakery Pizza portions.
The last few years, like any older person he had to make adjustments. Even though he could still roam, it was a slow walk. Toward the end, Mrs. FB carried him up and down the stairs.
When she was out of town, I devised a system to get him to and fro. Since my mobility is now limited, he seemed to understand there were different sets of skills. He gladly accepted a ride in a clothes basket to the outside where he traveled to his favorite places in the yard.
On Wednesday he ate a big breakfast and a nice dinner. On Thursday he only had a small piece of meat and some water. By Friday we had to help him drink. There were plaintive barks of pain on Friday and Saturday. Not many, but enough to let everyone know that this little joy filled life was coming to an end.
I never had a dog growing up. A neighbor had the sweetest black and white dog in the world that terrified me. So I never realized what role they played in a family’s life. I see studies about what dogs think, how they react and why they are important to a family. A friend of mine just said those studies were all bullshit and concluded “that dogs just know”. They know when you hurt, they know when don’t. They know when you need them but they count on you to do your part.
It’s a pact, a bargain, a deal.
The dog’s job is to make us whole. Our job is to take care of it. If everyone does what they are supposed to do, it works.
Up until the day he died…. he let us do our job…..like he did for us for so many years.
He was one month short of 17 on Saturday April 30th, 2016.
We all parted the most loving of friends.