Man’s Best Friend

by Rich on December 4, 2012

Gary was probably never going to be anything other than the assistant warehouse manager at the plumbing supply house where I worked right out of college. But he was a good guy. Liked to drink beer on the weekend, go to NASCAR races and take his kids camping at the lake. Blue collar all the way. He had a hard edge to him, but a good heart. So when Gary showed up at work that Monday with tales of a newborn puppy that he had found camping at the lake that weekend, I wasn’t surprised.

“You want it?”, he asked? “Hell, my wife says if I bring in one more stray, I’ll be living with them in the back yard.”

So I said sure.

We had moved into a rental house with a fenced in back yard and our beagle mutt Wegl was starting to get fat. He could use a playmate to keep him in shape, I thought.

She was tiny. Maybe four weeks old, we learned from the vet. She could fit into the palm of my hand, this little black bundle of warm fur. Jet black, from tip to tail. Turns out that she was almost positively a pure blood black lab. It became obvious that she was the runt of her litter. Never more than 50 pounds or so.

We named her Haley, after the one building I practically lived in during my college career at Auburn.

From day one, Haley was fun. She played with Wegl (named after the campus radio station where I first tasted the drug that is radio). She played with us. She slept on the bed. She cuddled on the couch.

As she got older, it became obvious that this was her world, her home, her family, and we were all just living in it. She yapped at Wegl and dominated that relationship, then sulked for weeks when he passed. And then, as she aged, she mellowed. Whatever room we were in, she had to be there. If I was in the kitchen and my wife in the living room, she would lay in the door in between, just to make sure she had a handle on where everyone was.

Here, in no particular order, are things about Haley:

She was fiercely loyal

She would chase a tennis ball with reckless abandon

She ate squirrel poop.

She new when I was upset and would put her head in my lap.

She had the most putrid gas I have ever smelled from man or beast.

She shed. A lot. All the time.

She would lick the tile and hardwood floors in our house.

She got a very distinguished graying around her muzzle as she aged.

She loved, as much as an animal can, unconditionally.

Haley died last week. She went to the vet and didn’t come home. I thought I was going to have to make a decision. But even in this, Haley was faithful, making the decision for us. She went to sleep and didn’t wake up again.

We had Haley for 14-1/2 years. Forever in dog terms. The house is empty now, and quiet. We will probably get another dog. We are dog people. But not just yet.

I don’t think about pets and heaven and souls and all that. God made Haley, and brought her into our life. We were blessed to have her and I hope we were good caretakers. What happens after that is up to God.

I know this post is jumbled and probably incoherent. I guess I just needed to get some things down.

Haley was a good dog. She was a good dog, and I miss her.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mom December 12, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Know that feeling. You keep telling yourself she was “only” a pet, not a person, but the relationship was real. So sorry but glad you didn’t have to make the hard decision. Love you.

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William Allbrook December 14, 2012 at 2:21 pm

As a dog lover (I have 4 now,only because we have had 2 that went to heaven in the last few years) and I can’t imagine not having a dog. Get back at it.

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