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about a man and his dog

December 17, 2009

I remember watching the Golden Globes earlier this year and hearing Mickey Rourke say, during his acceptance speech for Best Actor, “Sometimes when a man’s alone, all you got is your dog and they meant the world to me.”  

You think it’s just a dog, but it’s not.  It never really is.  Not to me anyways and certainly not to my pops who’s old cocker spaniel died earlier this week.  The dog that was his constant companion and partner in crime for over 10 years.  The dog that never wanted to leave his side, preferring to sit in the car for hours so that he might follow dad on whatever adventure he was going on, even if only to the diner down the street; one burger for pops and one for Hunter. 

He was never really the family dog because most of us had flown the nest by the time dad got him.  But he was there every Christmas, sitting on the couch, with his heart of gold and the rankest breath this side of the Atlantic, waiting for someone to open his box of milkbones under the tree or shaking like a leaf when dad gave him a giant beef bone from the butcher.  It was just so big and glorious and wonderful and what if someone took it from him? Oh the humanity!

Every man has a different kind of relationship with his dog but at the heart of it all is that unconditional love, one that transcends all the wrong doings, the disappointments, the shortcomings.  An affection altogether ignorant of our faults. It’s about a man and his dog and the loyalty that carries him through the highs and lows.  I don’t know a single human being who loves as unconditionally as a dog and we should all aspire to.

To understand the kind of relationship my father had with Hunter, I can only point you towards this video.  I am in fact convinced Buck 65 must have met dad and his yellow dog at some point and written a song about them.

When you are used to hearing the same thump of the old dog getting off the bed in the morning, the wake up shake, the tap dance of long toe nails and the tail wag announcing yet another amazing day in dogland (food, walk and time with their best friend never gets old to them)… the mornings seem really quiet when they’re gone. And it hurts when they leave us. So today, I am sending love to my pops who is feeling rather sad.

As for Hunter, I like to think in my hopeless optimism that Dylan was up there waiting for him and they are whooping it up in tall grasses, chasing a bounty of squirrels, with their tongues dragging on the ground, going for car rides whenever they feel like it and eating an endless supply of dog bones on all the furniture they want.

The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.”  ~Samuel Butler, Notebooks, 1912

15 Comments leave one →
  1. December 17, 2009 11:44 am

    I am so sorry for your dads loss. Losing a pet is just the worst feeling.

  2. mari permalink
    December 17, 2009 11:51 am

    Your post is so sweet, and a fitting tribute to both your father’s love for Hunter and for his companion himself.

    It’s a hard thing to lose a pet. I lost my dear cat, Sofia, a few months ago to cancer. The first two months were unbearably difficult and overwhelmingly emotional. I know exactly what you mean about hearing them in the morning and then those comforting, familiar sounds suddenly being gone. In times like those, I have turned my thoughts to knowing that our furry friends never really leave us.

    My thoughts are with your Pops today.

  3. Alison permalink
    December 17, 2009 12:10 pm

    Thank you!

  4. December 17, 2009 12:11 pm

    so beautiful – can my beautiful maggie cat sit watching them. it broke my heart when she had to leave me.

  5. May permalink
    December 17, 2009 12:28 pm

    This post totally made me teary (can you tell I’m a dog owner?). I came across the following in one of my grandma’s dog books, and have always thought it an apt description of most the dogs I’ve known:

    (An epitaph to Lord Byron’s dog Boatswain, by his friend John Hobhouse)

    Near this Spot
    are deposited the Remains of one
    who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
    Strength without Insolence,
    Courage without Ferosity,
    and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.

    This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
    if inscribed over human Ashes,
    is but a just tribute to the Memory of
    who was born in Newfoundland May 1803
    and died at Newstead Nov. 18, 1808.

  6. December 17, 2009 1:13 pm

    oh i do understand this…
    i do…
    i do…

  7. December 17, 2009 5:49 pm

    So sad – losing a dog is so hard. My Dad gets really attached to his dogs too – and, of course, they get really attached to him. It is a great realtionship to witness.

  8. dad permalink
    December 18, 2009 8:22 am

    thank you for the wonderful words about a man and his dog. they say that diamonds are a girls best friend, and I think we got ripped off, there is no diamond big enough in the world to replace hunter, he was my best friend.
    love you, pops

  9. Alison permalink
    December 18, 2009 5:35 pm

    What I meant to say was they say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend and I used to think that we men got ripped off but now I know that there could be no diamond in the world big enough to replace Hunter.


  10. December 21, 2009 3:18 pm

    I’m so sorry for the loss of Hunter. I can only imagine how difficult it would be. Sending good vibes to your father…


  11. December 21, 2009 3:25 pm

    i am so sorry for your family’s loss … this is such a beautiful tribute of hunter, thinking of you all with love, xo

  12. Frannie permalink
    December 21, 2009 9:57 pm

    I’m a little late with this response, but I’m a huge dog lover and former dog owner, and I feel for you. Those little buggers do have a way of crawling into our hearts, don’t they. So sorry about Hunter.

  13. December 22, 2009 7:11 am

    I love this post. whenever I hear of a beloved pet loss, I too hope that my milo is there to greet them on the other side to introduce them to an endless romp and frolic and that they all receive the kind of magical unconditional love they gave in our world.

  14. Johanne permalink
    December 22, 2009 9:40 pm

    Yes ,,, I feel my brother’s lost, so well discribed by your words Jeanine …
    love the picture of him and Hunter …
    We will all miss seeing his head sticking out of the car ! xxx

  15. Avi permalink
    January 22, 2010 8:25 am

    i lost my Baby around 3 months back , n THAT was the first time i literally cried out tears in the last 12 yrs . i know how it feels . . . but just remember my friend , Hunter will always be with you , just like my Baby is with me . . . believe it or not . . .

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