Anybody that knows me knows I’m a dog guy. While all the regular people were mixing and mingling at my brother David’s and his bride April’s house for Thanksgiving, I was under a table visiting with my old friend Ginger, an old Yellow lab. She was in the last days of her time here before going to see my dad. She didn’t feel like coming to me, like she usually did with her whole body wagging, so I went to her. I wanted to let her know she was a good dog and not getting up for me was ok. She was tired. I’m almost 60 years old and under a table. I only pray I can do the same thing when I’m 90. She would have done it for me, I am sure.
I just lost my German Shepherd a few weeks ago. He was my daytime dog. Seven or eight hours a day, five days a week. Worked on the “nod.” You only needed to nod at what you wanted from him. Want him in the truck? Nod at the truck. He was a good dog. His eyes said it all. Total acceptance of me, faults and all. He was one of the guys. And we really never thought about him being a dog. Really. I don’t know if that makes sense to a non-dog person. At lunch time, we’d always make his first. Half canned food with Purina One, trying to keep his weight right. Later in life we had to add his arthritis meds and something to help his pancreas work a little better. Then later, pain meds. The best was barely good enough for our buddy. That’s was okay, I have my Celebrex.
He hung with us for 12 years. His sister died a year ago November. She was the alpha dog and he was lost for a while, but with love he came around. It was my job to help him recover like he helped me many days when everything was so hectic I’d lost perspective. I’d glance over in the passenger seat and he’d be looking at me with those soulful brown eyes, as if he were saying, “What’s the problem, Lamont? The sun’s out and I’m here. We’re good to go.” I’d pat his big old head, and it would be alright.
The term “man’s best friend” didn’t just pop up. It wasn’t just a good ad campaign. That term stuck because it’s a fact. A good dog - I’m talking about one that’s with you all the time - in my mind brings me closer to God. Unconditional love. And all he wants is an approving look, or a nod. What a blessing my good boy Beau was to me. I’ll miss him until I see him again at the Gates. He wasn’t a barker. In fact, I never heard him bark. Maybe he’ll give Saint Peter the nod for me.
Monty Stagner is a columnist and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.