Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Walker

He was a good dog.

I am writing through tears tonight because my dog Walker passed away today. My parents told me when I got home from work. He had been sick, and today he was in pain. They decided it was time. They were right.

But oh God, I miss him.

I don't think I will ever meet a dog with a sweeter disposition than he had. He was a big yellow mutt of uncertain lineage who was born on a cold afternoon in January twelve years ago. He was one of a litter of eight to which my brother's dog, Chocolate, gave birth. We didn't even know she was pregnant. I still remember when my mother brought them inside - all tiny bundles of wet fur, seven boys and one girl. He was the only yellow one, and the only one without a tail- just a little flap of skin and fur - and the only one we kept, because he was the kindest and gentlest of them all. When they were puppies gathered around the food bowls, that poor little girl had no chance against seven brothers. But Walker would push his way into the squirming mass, get a mouthful of food, and take it to little Dolly. Then he'd go get his own, back and forth, making sure she got fed. He was a good dog.

When he was first born he had a tiny little wrinkled up face (it was as though he had more face than body) that made him look like a bulldog, so that's what I named him: Walker, after a general I had read about who was nicknamed "Bulldog" Walker. He was such a tiny thing - he could fit in the palm of my hand back then, and I remember him crawling around on a mouse pad that must have seemed vast to him. Tiny paws, nose, ears, claws, and of course no tail at all - he was just unbelievably small.

But he grew. Oh, how he grew! He was a bit fat and liked to lay around the house sleeping (what dog doesn't?) - especially under my dad's desk or at the top of the stairs with his paws hanging over the edge of the top stair - but if your feet were cold you could edge your toes under him for warmth and he'd barely even stir. And he was always up for attention. He'd come up to you and rest his chin on your knee and look at you with those soulful brown eyes, and I'd scratch his head and play with those big floppy velvety ears that were so big I'd sometimes play peekaboo with him using his ears to cover his eyes. He never seemed to mind.

He was a big dog but never rough. Even people who don't like big dogs liked him. Heck, even people who don't like dogs period liked him. He was the prototypical big lovable lazy mutt. I taught him to sit and to shake, and he'd do it eagerly, especially if there was a bone in it for him. Shout "treat!" and watch him take off, gallumphing along on those huge soft paws. And he'd sit, and he'd shake, and he'd take the bone out of your hand just as gently as you please and wait for you to rub his head before he ran off to eat it. He was a good dog.

He was always a good dog, and now he's gone, and I miss him. I was sixteen when he came along, and I am twenty-nine now, and he was there as I grew from a boy to a man. And I am not ashamed to cry, because he was a good dog, and I loved him dearly, and I am so lucky to have had so good a dog, and I am going to miss him so much more than I can ever say.