I'm so very sad to tell you that this week we lost our Leroy, our underfoot maniac, our grizzled old boy, our little love monster, at the age of 16.We are missing him terribly. Leroy had a way of making his presence felt like very few animals I've known.
He was a dog that wanted to have physical contact with his people at all times, if at all possible. That might mean putting his foot over your foot while standing beside you, or jutting his face into your lap while you're sitting on the sofa. It certainly meant trailing you from room to room, even curling up on the bath mat while you showered.
He was never quite so happy was when he was in the car with his people. He didn't care so much where he was going. He just liked for us all to be in close quarters, and if there were mysterious smells on the wind, so much the better.
This year he got a few good road trips in. You might remember Leroy's trip to California.
He also got a week at the Oregon coast, which included plenty of walks, and a commitment to never let a dead crab go unsniffed.
He was up for a walk in any weather.
And he was never ever off leash due to a perplexing dichotomy in his character. Though to people he was the sweetest dog in the world, other dogs -- as far as Leroy was concerned -- had no place on his Earth, let alone whatever street he happened to be walking on. Woe to any off-leash dog who ambled up to sniff hello to Leroy! Despite many reasoned arguments on our part that his life would be richer (he would get to go more places, sniff more things!), if he would just cease his efforts to destroy all canines, he never wavered. It was like a switch was flipped in his brain whenever he saw another dog: an ATTACK switch. Sigh. But with people? You never saw such a lover.
After the car, about his favorite place to be was crammed between the sofa and the coffee table.
He was keen on a good belly scratch.
In addition to several jumbo-size, mattress-thick dog beds around the house, any new thing to hit the floor became a potential dog bed.
Thanksgiving was a favorite day.
But Leroy did not have to wait for Thanksgiving for poultry treats. For the past several years, ever since his dog-sister Shiloh became ill, we have been in the habit of buying supermarket roast chickens for the dogs. We lost Shiloh a long time ago, but continued with the chickens. Leroy, spoiled boy, wouldn't eat a meal that wasn't fancied up with some meat.
I'm glad we got to spoil him as long as we did. It's just a sad fact that, no matter how much we love animals, their lives are short and we are doomed to loss. Many times in our lives, we will know this loss, but also this love. Not to diminish this love as an end unto itself, but I also think that loving and caring for animals helps to train us to love and care for people, and losing them is training too, for other losses that lie ahead. It's something I avoid thinking about as much as possible, loss. When my mind lands on it it instantly recoils, like a hand that has touched something hot. But loss and grief are a part of our lives, and just by loving someone or something you take a terrible risk that you might have to grieve them.
Of course, no matter what the risk, love is worth it. Life is about who and what you love, more than it is about anything else. And the purity of a dog's love is the finest example. Leroy's sweet face and his devotion were all about love. He might not have been a genius, but he was really really good at love. He had a long, full life -- lots of roast chickens and belly scratches and car rides and comfy dog beds and walks every single day and an owner -- Jim -- who was devoted to him right back, and who will miss him forever, as will I.
We love you, Leroy.