One of the biggest things dogs do for us is remind us. They remind us to pet them, feed them, give them water and play with them. They also remind us of emotions like compassion, empathy, hope, trust and love.
Years before I met GGMark, he took two-year old Charlie on a road trip to pick up a young basset hound that needed a home. They surprised Max with the floppy eared dog after his first-grade class was done for the day. The three of them decided that a dog that had this face:
just begged for the name Happy.
Happy’s life was mostly uneventful. When he was a young dog and Mark lived in town there were a couple of escapes to the local car dealership. Only a basset nose could tell why he chose that destination. He was promptly retrieved both times and brought home to his backyard where he bellowed at the fence at passersby. He was never one to miss an opportunity for a tasty handout. Evenings found him under Mark’s feet for a good old fashioned massage and curled up with Max for a good night snooze.
After Mark and I met and we moved to the property, his short aging legs followed me on the dog walks around the property. His nose led him in a zig-zag and the poodles and I could easily lap him. As the slope in the back got to be too much for him, he would wander around the front yard. Mark and the kids would gently rake his body with the shedding blade. He’d groan and grunt unabashedly, rolling around and giving them access to his most itchiest parts.
Last summer it became clear to us that it would be Hap’s last season. He could no longer make it up and down the three steps in the garage. Mark carried him three or four times a day, every day, all summer, outside. There were a few times we thought the day would be his last. But Hap would rally. The dragging ears would come forward, the thick tail would sway back and forth and the voice boomed, “Nope. Not yet.” His chosen spot was right by the back door where we stepped over him to enter and exit. He was not to be counted out.
The week came when Hap stopped eating and Mark made the appointment for a Saturday. All too often, we lose our pets in the midst of busy schedules and planned events. That Saturday I bid a hasty good-bye to Hap and rushed back to the kitchen to get ready for my Cookie Girls to visit. In the midst of that busy afternoon, my strongest memory is Mark’s return from the vet. Standing in the kitchen, entertaining a room full of friends, I watched the red jeep drive across the front yard, past the dining room window heading for our little pet cemetery.
Supposedly, there are seven major life event stressors: marriage, divorce, death of loved one, selling a house, buying a house, loss of job, new job. Through stories and histories of these events there is always a good dog as a discreet witness: Cindy, Laddie, Molly, Bo, Duncan, Faith, Luther, Cricket, Max…the list is long. Happy was Mark’s companion during a time when he hit each of these events in matter of a few years. Never unobtrusively, Happy would shove his head under Mark’s feet and say, “Hey! Forget your troubles. I have my own. I need a scratch!”
Happy will have his stories again and again. He was one of the good ones.