I often thought that my relationship with my partner’s dog was that we mostly considered each other a nuisance that the person we most cared about forced us to deal with, completely against our joint wills.
When John and I met in 2007, he had a West Highland White Terrier named Cody. Cody was already quite elderly, but was very polite and tolerated me, but it was quite clear that I was always the new kid. Sadly, in mid-2009, Cody went on to wherever dogs go when they are waiting on their owner to come get them, and within a couple of months John asked me very nicely to take him from our home in Centennial, Colorado to the far eastern side of Iowa so he could pick up his new dog.
I had just purchased a new Dodge Ram pickup, and it had only a few hundred miles on it, so I took a few days off work and off to Iowa we went.
Apparently Dudley was the runt of the litter, and in the picture above, on our way home, was about 10 or 12 weeks old. He was cute, I will admit, and remained cute right up to when he squatted on the dashboard and peed into the defroster grills.
Our mutual distrust of one another began at that point, and persisted his entire life. John swears that I earned his distrust when I taught him, as a very young puppy, to answer eagerly to “kitty, kitty”. It was quite amusing when we had guests that I would whistle and out comes the cat, and a call of kitty-kitty would bring the dog a rushing.
He eventually caught on, and for years, anytime I called his name he would look at me with this ‘show me your other hand first’ look, and would often then look at John for affirmation that I wasn’t about to do some trick.
Dudley was always Johns dog. Within a very short period they became inseparable. Dudley would lay at the bathroom door and cry when John was taking a shower. If John went off somewhere and left Dudley at home with me, I knew I could always find him laying across the threshold of the front door, heaving huge despondent sighs every few moments.
I’ve been around dogs my entire life, but I’ve never really been a dog person. I’ve had cats, and the relationship between cats and humans is vastly different. Cats usually aren’t completely dependent on you for their entire world. We’ve always had cats that came and went outdoors, later I had Riggs who we tried to keep indoors, not always successfully.
I was beginning to have some thoughts about how rough it was going to be on John as Dudley began what I was expecting to be a long, protracted slide into dog-ancientness. I was foreseeing weeks or months of frequent vet visits and watching John devote his all to keeping his friend and companion happy and pain free.
Instead, Dudley surprised us a couple of days ago by eagerly eating his late afternoon meal, wagging his tail and twinkling his eyes as John wiped his muzzle with a napkin, only to wander down the hall a minute later and have the first of at least two strokes. His exit from our lives was nearly as sudden as his entry, and while I know John is devastated, he will be better soon and cherish great memories, as he has with all of the other furry friends and companions he nurtured and loved over the years.
I hadn’t really given it much thought on how I would feel. He accepted me as a member of the family, but rarely would he bring a toy to me and ask for play, and I accepted that he considered me the interloper.
But, I find myself swallowing the occasional lump in my throat when I realize I didn’t have to dance over him in the hallway, or when I walk through the living room and he’s not laying at John’s feet, or especially when I look out my window across the pool on a bright sunny day and don’t see him out there sunning on his favorite corner of the pool deck.
I will miss him, he was a good dog.