In Memory of Dogs

Alabama Living Magazine

“They are good things to have, a dog.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald,  The Great Gatsby

By Hardy Jackson

Recently “Bo,” our yellow Lab, died.

Anyone who has ever owned a dog, or been owned by one, knows the feeling we felt.

We got “Bo” as a pup.

He went to Auburn with our son. “Bo Jackson,” get it?

There he became a great favorite of a circle of guys who welcomed him as one of them.  He lived the good life.

Then my son graduated, married, and took a job far away.

Bo stayed with us.  

Bo fit in well with our other Labs.

There was Libby, the oldest, a black Lab.

Willow, the youngest, a chocolate Lab.

And Bo.

We had the Lab-trifecta.

Now we are down to two.

Reflecting on this I recalled how, some years ago, the editor of a local newspaper asked distinguished members of the local religious community to comment on whether or not dogs have souls.

He didn’t ask me, but if he had, I would have referred him to that great theologian, Mark Twain, who once observed,  “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”

If there is not scripture to support this, there should be.  

I have lived with dogs all my life and I can still call each by name.  

Some stand out above the rest.  

There was Elvis, a dalmatian, who was deaf.  His constant companion was Max, a dachshund, who was his ears. They went everywhere together, until Elvis died.  Max soon followed. I remain convinced that he grieved himself to death.

Now I know there are some among you who will chide me for ascribing human emotions to dumb animals.  Let me suggest instead, that the world would be a better place if animal emotions were mimicked by dumb humans.

I could go on and on.  

Every time we lost one, I swore I would never get another, never give my heart so completely to someone that I would surely lose. Never . . . 

And every time I lied.

Every time . . . .

So today we are left with Libby and Willow.  Both getting up in years.  Both so set in their ways that bringing a new  dog, especially a puppy, into the family, might be more than they can handle.

On the other hand, a new member might be just what the old girls need.  Someone they could teach to go through the “Doggie Door,” and into the yard.  Someone they could introduce to the guy who picks up the trash. He always brings treats.  Someone the neighbors could adopt, just as they adopted Bo.

Maybe a “rescue,” who needs us as much as we need it.

Bo would have liked that.


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