I had this cute little red poodle, Ronnie, for nearly 18 years. He was a steady and loyal companion, sitting with me through the writing of my 2 big books. He served to keep my older son from becoming more afraid of dogs after a scary incident when Scott was 2. Ronnie was such a sturdy little gentleman guardian, making sure the whole house knew when there was a dog in our front yard, which was a city park. Imagine the number of times a day he was incensed by the presence of a dog out there in HIS YARD—alllllll summer long when the door was open. LOL.
We got the second dog, Taffy, for Ron–to give him a canine pack, maybe help him chill. Of course, we didn’t know that the very scared girl dog we brought home from the shelter would very soon take over Ronnie’s ALPHA DOG status in many realms, quite blithely and with wonderful humor and verve, making Ron a frustrated little guy. But he trucked on like a trooper with his “sister,” humping said “sister” regularly to show her who was boss. (He was never really boss again.) She didn’t even notice his concern. She was such a love that she got her way all the time, but she’d join him enthusiastically if he got barking loudly at some supposed invader. They were a team. They pulled me on walks like a couple of tiny reindeer on their leashes. Yeah, Ron never learned to heel until we put him on a leash that fastened in front due to painful shoulder muscle pulls. Then for several years, he had to follow instead of lead. We were still a pack, though: 2 adults, 2 kids, 2 dogs–or near-dogs, if you are not a small poodle fan. (Hey, they DO NOT SHED.)
Then the kids left to go to college and live their lives. Taf, by then a socialite mentioned in Irvine Women’s Who’s Who, eventually got pretty sick. One day when I was giving Taffy her heart meds last year, Ron was nearby and I reached down to pet him.
Crap. Not a Ronnie thing, ever. Ronnie loved human attention–my attention.
You could blame his near-blindness or his doggy dementia, but I really felt I had lost him right then. Taffy died not long after that. Ron was just a shell, really, but we babied him along for 8 more months. Let him ride part of our daily walks in his stroller. Gave him beef and cheese. He lived for burgers. Picked him up when he fell and couldn’t get up. Then Eveready Doggy’s batteries finally ran down.
And now an era has ended. Now our pack is 2 senior humans and a fresh dog, Jack, who never pulls on the leash–except to lunge at an occasional squirrel. He loves everyone and has nothing to prove. The only thing he humps is old dog beds. He’s the dog I always wanted–happy and content, no barking, no fuss. But the change … Change is good, right? Yeah. Change is good. Sniff.