I'm a dog person. Have been all my life. My first dog that was MINE, I got when I was about 10 years old, from my uncle. He had puppies all over the place, and I found one I had to have. He said, "If you can catch him, he's yours." That's all it took. Finally, I cornered the scared little guy underneath my uncle's heating oil drum. I don't know which one of us had more oil on us, me or the dog, but I got him. And I held him all the way home.
I named him Waldorf, after a dog in a book that was a favorite of mine at the time. He was a great dog. A year or so later, standing in line at the movies, we noticed a Cairn Terrier wandering around the theater line (a Cairn Terrier looks like Toto). I chased that guy down too. Pat (as he came to be known) had had a bad life. He had a rope collar that he had outgrown, and his skin and fur was starting to grow around the collar.
My mother put an ad in the paper, as was the custom at the time, and prayed that whatever sick son of a whore put the dog in that position didn't claim him (which he didn't). I don't know how much the vet charged to remove the old collar from Pat's neck, but he was very resistant to collars from then on. I don't think he ever wore one.
Pat and Waldorf became good friends, there was no argument about pecking order between them. They would cruise the neighborhood together, and come home when they were hungry or tired. Later, we found out that they had about 6 other places where they were taken in by families who had made names for each of them, they just made the rounds, getting fed at least 4 times a day, and treated like royalty. But they always came home.
But as I and my siblings aged, so did Pat and Waldorf. And I don't know if it was just the slowing down that accompanies age, or if he got caught up in too much traffic, but one day Waldorf got run over on the highway. After a day or so of looking for him, I drove out to the pound, where I claimed his body and took him home for a burial. Pat stood by the grave, as if he were mourning.
Pat wasn't the same after that. The spark he had, the twinkle in his eye, the bounce in his step, they were all missing. And about 2 weeks after I buried Waldorf, Pat was run over on the same highway, almost in the same spot. Now you can tell me that dogs don't have emotions, or can't plan things, but you won't convince me that that dog didn't commit suicide. He had lost his best friend. He had lived a good life, but now saw no future. So he did what he thought Waldorf would have done in the same position.
I buried Pat right next to his friend.
Now, if you think I'm just telling you this because I wanted to tell you about the love that dogs can feel for each other, you're half right. But there is something else I wanted to share.
See, I thought my two dogs were the coolest dogs ever. And they certainly knew the value of a friendship.
But while I was in Boston, I met a dog who strangely reminded me of Pat. His name is Rocket, and his people are Bart and Michelle Welden. When I say this dog is cool, it's giving "cool" a good name.
Michelle drives a convertible. And when Rocket goes for a ride, he wears special doggie goggles, so bugs don't get in his eyes. And his long, floppy ears glide out like wings. Apparently, it's a sight that garners a lot of attention from fellow motorists, who break out the camera phones every time he sticks his head above the windshield.
And after hearing the stories, I had to agree that Rocket is indeed, the coolest dog in the world. At least now. My two would have given him a run for the money, but Rocket has no equal right now. You can have your Portuguese Water Dogs. Give me an old hound like Rocket, and I'll be alright.
This one's for you, Michelle and Bart. And for you, Rocket. You're a beautiful family, and I am richer for having known you.