It has taken me a while to get used to the fact that Smokey is no longer with us. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ll ever get over his sudden death. During the past week I have taken a lot of time to miss him and to reflect on what made him so special.
They say a dog offers unconditional love. They are right. His look of complete adoration and devotion is still fresh in my mind. But the warm feeling of knowing that there’s someone in this world that thought I was a rockstar went both ways. In other words, my worthy aspiration in life is to be more like Smokey and less like myself.
I wish I could love like him, with unconditional purity. Smokey never noticed if I was wearing fancy shoes or dirty clothes. He wasn’t concerned with my finances, the color of my skin, my creed, my stance on abortion or the death penalty, or my political choices. He was just as happy in the Rover as he was in the Saturn, and he enjoyed the tiny cramped studio as much as he liked the bigger two story house. Regardless of our weight fluctuations throughout the years, he was always wholly and utterly devoted to my husband, and later on myself, for the simple reason that we were ourselves (and, ok, we dished out the food).
I’d love to greet each day with a feeling of excitement for no reason other than it’s a new day filled with wondrous new opportunities. Despite my good health, wonderful family and friends, a roof over my head, and food in my cupboards, I complain. Smokey really treasured the little moments in life and always had, even when feeling a bit under the weather, a smile in his face. You can really see dogs smile.
What for me was another boring, monotonous, repetitive day for him was an absolute adventure. Just our walking in through the door elicited in Smokey an unbridled joy. He was not only the ‘Adrian and Mildred Fan Club’ president but he was also the whole club. Hearing a package of food being ripped open or grabbing the keys to the car provoked the same exact response of contentedness. My most vivid memories of him are of his long tail, wagging so ferociously it slapped both sides of his face making him wink constantly. Silly, happy, goofy grins, all tongue and teeth captured the blissful essence of being a dog. If only I could be this ecstatic about life.
I’d love to work and play like him, with total dedication, purpose and concentration. The way he chewed on a bone, played his own version of tennis, and wrestled with the neighbor’s dog, were all done with the same intensity. Nothing halfhearted there. Talk about living in the moment. We learned upon his death that he probably had an undetected tumor. He never complained, ached, or turned down an opportunity to play though. Nothing slowed him down. He was enthusiasm incarnate, fully giving himself to each and every activity, be it snuggling against us in our bed or chasing rabbits in the yard.
Smokey was the self-appointed canine ambassador. He was a Stafforshire Pit Bull Terrier and some people would initially fear him because of his body builder looks. Indeed, he weighed 50 lbs and was thick and compact with an enormous head. That’s where the ferociousness ended though. Smokey never met a stranger he didn’t like. That went for both humans and all animals. Many times he was attacked by other dogs, not once did he retaliate. He always chose to make friends and try to engage the attacker in a playful game of chase. I never paid much attention to the expression “he has a heart of gold” until I met this dog.
People, even those who didn’t like dogs, ended up scratching him for hours and even taking pictures with him. In July of 2008 we took him to the CrossFit Games and he ended up being the life of the party as usual; everyone including the athletes, the staff, kids, and adults alike would pass by our stand periodically for the chance to pet him. As if he knew he had a higher calling in life, Smokey sat there patiently, with wanton abandon, and fulfilled his purpose of spreading love.
When we screamed at him to get out of the way, he forgave. When we ignored him, he still loved. When abandoned during our working hours, he remained loyal. When neglected, he didn’t judge. All he wanted in life was to be near us…his favorite past time was to get on the couch in between us with his big head resting on my thighs (especially if they were enveloped in the special robe) and his butt squooshed against my husband. He would ocassionally rotate and lay down the other way just so we could both get a chance to scratch him. Without prejudice, bias, or judgment, he epitomized the best of human nature. Or what human nature should be. It is no coincidence that dog is “God” spelled backward. The father of a good friend points that throughout his life he had had better dogs than human friends. I now know this to be a fact.
Today I got a sympathy card in the mail from my sister. It reads “I have this feeling there’s one more star up in the sky tonight. And even though it’s far away, its brightness and warmth still reach us here to make the night a little less dark.” I couldn’t have said it better. He is an absolute star!
Smokey is the spirit of this and every venture of my life. He will forever be my inspiration.