I am guessing for a similar reason that some of us choose to have kids, although we know we won’t be able to protect them forever – just from some kind of unexplained law of nature. We feel the need to connect. To give love, and to receive it. Unconditionally and totally. Explaining why is superfluous. We will do it at some point in our life, to celebrate our humanity!
Ever since I can remember, my dad wanted a dog. He was very specific about what kind of dog he wanted: it was going to be a German Shepherd. As my sister and I were growing up, we watched him love other people’s dogs, because mom never allowed pets in our condo. But once he built his house, the very same year, he was on the lookout for a dog. This way, the dog can live outside, and not bother mom.
And a dog he got. Ten years ago this August, he had a friend who had a German Shepherd female dog who had puppies. And he adopted one and named him Bobby. More precisely, Bobby Cappuccino, because of his “cappuccino” color. Dad wanted a mean looking dog, so people would stay away from his house (in Romania the notion of a guard dog is not at all extinct). A large and mean looking dog Bobby was, but a mean dog he was very far from.
He had to be the quietest and meekest dog I have ever seen. He loved friends and strangers just the same. And although dad wanted him for the known, loud and intimidating Shepherd’s bark, the only thing Bobby ever barked at were cats! Never at people. Ever. He would eat from anyone’s hand, and lean onto anyone’s leg at the dining room table. He would greet everyone, friends, strangers, the mailman, anyone at the gate, and show them into the kitchen or where dad was.
He was dad’s shadow, all these years, although dad has been known to be mean to him when he trampled his veggie garden and when he wandered off into the streets for hours causing dad to panic that he might have gotten killed by a car.
Healthier and happier times: Bobby outside the kitchen and in front of the gate - he never quite grew into his paws and large head.
He was always free to roam. In Romania chaining a dog is routine, but dad never ever chained Bobby. He trusted him, and Bobby behaved always, after he learned everyone’s needs.
Like any pet, he became very much part of the family. During his first weekend in our yard, my sister got married. He was there when my grandmother died, when we visited my parents and had all our meals on the patio, he was there when Dolly, our cat, died; there when we grilled out, there when we brought Patrick for his first visit to see my parents. He was always quiet, and unless you saw his large frame, you never ever knew there was a dog living there. Unless stray cats would happen in the yard, and you’d hear his whining. Not as much as a bark, but a frustrated whine. He was not very successful at keeping cats at bay, though: dad has had throughout the years many-a-stray cats in the yard to feed. His whine was just a warning to them, perhaps, that yes, they may get food in that house, but the yard still belongs to him.
He was without a question the smartest dog I have ever known. His diligence to move around babies and small children without hurting, his nonintrusive closeness to humans, his discreetness and never begging for food made him smart to me. And definitely, without a question, he was the most loving dog I have ever seen. He was nothing but a big pile of love for everyone. And meekness!
I think his silence almost killed him: my parents didn’t realize he was as sick as he was, because he never complained. His congested heart was found too late.
He died today. He was only 10. And I say ONLY because dogs should live longer than that! Much, much longer! He went as quietly as he lived. As mom said “he was just like a child of ours; we loved him, although we sometimes scolded him, just like you do a child”.
So, at only 10, we – and definitely dad who waited for him for 40 some years – were not ready to lose him! Truth is: when are you ever ready to lose a “child”, a part of your family, a pet?
Hopefully, if there is such a thing as a doggie heaven, Bobby is peacefully roaming it free and painlessly, only whining at the random cat up there … I’ll miss you, Mr. Cappuccino. You could never be replaced!!