Photo by Edie Piccotti on January 23, 2015
When Gene and I got married, I told him that when we bought a house we needed to get a dog. Shortly after we bought our first house, he called to say a co-worker had a puppy that needed a home. The man's wife was pregnant with their 2nd child, and their oldest was only 2. The puppy had to go. Despite the fact it was a male puppy (I had only ever had female dogs), we went to look. And then I saw him.
And we brought him home, wabi-sabi ears and all.
They didn't know what kind of dog he was, but there were guesses about being part lab and shiba inu, you know, medium sized, 40 to 50-lb type dogs. When the puppy, now named Eddie van Halen, began gaining 3 lbs. per week, we realized this would not be a 40-lb. dog. He topped out at 103 in his prime.
As puppy parents we did all the right things: Puppy School...
...runs at the dog park, daily walks around the block. Despite all of our attempts, Eddie was always a nightmare on a leash. He wanted to go fast, or to play tug of war with the leash.
But that was all forgivable when he would curl up on the couch next to one of us and rest his head in our lap. He was a snuggle dog of the best variety.
When we brought each of our newborn girls home from the hospital, Eddie knew to treat them with the utmost care. There were numerous times when a baby would be crying in the bassinet and Eddie would stand over her looking up at me and down at the baby and then back at me as if to say, "Hello! Need a little help over here!"
He turned into our beloved family dog, allowing the girls to crawl over him and pull on his ears. He always responded with a gigantic lick to their faces. And he was ever the protector, barking his terrifying bark whenever the dreaded UPS man drove by or the doorbell was rung.
When I began my own consulting business in 2006 and began working from home, Eddie became my trusty, albeit useless, office assistant. Though he never fetched me a cup of tea or made any copies, he was a constant companion and a sounding board for whatever project I was working on.
He and Gene would walk for miles on Saturday mornings. Oh, how excited he would get when he heard the rattle of the leash! He was the first one we attended to every morning, and the last one we attended to at night.
Eddie loved soggy cheerios and hated when I (not anyone else) vacuumed. He was a master thief of left-behind food and a lover of cheese. When string cheese is consumed in our home, the last bite belongs to him. Belonged.
One of many habits that is difficult to break.
And besides being everything a pet should be, he was a handsome devil! One woman at a local dog park called him the Matthew McConaughey of dogs. On a nearly daily basis, when we took him for a walk, people would stop, even pull over, to ask what kind of dog he was. He was beautiful, his fur was so soft, and he could run so very fast.
The decision to let him go was one of the most difficult we've faced in our marriage. But knowing that this aggressive cancer was already causing discomfort was too much to bear. We could not let our good friend suffer.
And so, we spent one last special day with him. I had a very usual and pleasant morning with him as my assistant. He got in one last great bark at the UPS man. Gene and I took him for an extra long walk together. We shared our funniest memories of him. I fed him an entire cheese stick. We ran our hands through his beautiful coat over and over again. And then it was time to say goodbye.
Photo by Joseph Powell, Champa Street Productions