You were a short-nosed Lab, one with deep-barrelled chest, spun to life on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, from a mother named Stella and a father called Gus.
You were the runt of the litter. You lived to be 13.
You hated thunderstorms. When one would arrive in Mason Neck, you would go to the bedroom closet, pull most of my clothes off the hangers to make a nest, and bury yourself in the smell of Mary, until the danger passed.
Today, there was no part of Mary that could comfort you. Despite medication, you were in pain. You visited the vet today...and went to sleep. I held you in my arms, as was always done when you needed it, and you sighed as your spirit flew away. And as I held you, your gub came to rest on the top of my foot as you went to sleep. Just like it did when you would lay under my desk while I was working, or playing scales on the guitar in the living room. You liked music.
You were smart, my dear Marg. Sweet. A happy dog. Your tail wagged, even in your sleep. I would be working in the office, and hear you slide off the couch in the living room, to walk down the hall to check on me. I would lay the side of my face on your soft black head and rub your stomach, and you would smile with your soft pink tongue.
A memory: Ken wanted water for you, so he, a big strong ex-Marine, went to the nearest Toys 'R Us and bought you a kiddie pool, one with a picture of Barbie on it, one that could be filled with water, which it was, in the corner of the yard. He was not embarrassed. At the counter he told the cashier, "This is for Margaret. She likes to swim."
And you loved it. A black pup, running across the yard, leaping into the pool's shallow depth. You would bite at the even more shallow depiction of the bottle-blond Barbie painted on the pool floor. You loved puddles and biting at water and burrowing your head against the leg of someone you loved.
So tomorrow morning Walt and I will walk to the Potomac. I will drop a Milkbone in the water. And the ripples of treat will spread in circles, a goodness to be shared with Shaman and Casey, baby Henry, and Barb, the lady who will gently scold you while fixing you something good to eat.