He yells down the hall from bed.
I yell back from mine.
– Are you up?
– I’m awake.
– Oh. I won’t bother you then.
– I wanted you to come see the dogs.
Dad inherited my sister’s three pedigree Shih Tzus (Nigel, Emmy and Sayla) and the best farm cat of all time (Samson). Every night, they pile in bed together, Samson pushing Nigel out of his way and Dad on the edge of the Queen-size trying not to disturb them.
– Sayla! Come on Sayla!
He says, ready to walk down the hill for the paper.
– Come on Princess Sayla! Come on!
– GET UP YOU OLD LAZY BROAD!
They head out in the rain.
A couple minutes later, they come back.
– We made a unanimous decision not to walk in the rain.
– When you get a chance, can you go get the paper, dear?
I reverse down the driveway in my dressing gown.
Dogs are a man’s best friend.
Satan was a black lab from before my time. He is remembered for following my parents down to church for an outdoor service and cocking his leg on the minister.
– I knew that was your dog.
Said Father Ivan to Dad.
There is a local newspaper article depicting an argument between my parents over Satan. Mum wanted Dad to get rid of him so Dad put an ad in the paper selling him for $5,000.
– She can’t say he’s a worthless mutt now.
The article quotes Dad.
Pasquale, a black lab, was named after Boogie. Boogie was the only Dutchman on Dad’s all Italian crew. Dad called him Pasquale one day and the nickname stuck. Pasquale, the dog, laid beside my pram for my outdoor naps and growled if strangers approached. When Dad was asleep and I was little watching horror movies alone in the basement late at night, the sound of Pasquale snoring in the darkness made me feel safe.
Sophie, a black lab, was a gift from Grouchy. She and my dog, Teasha, were best friends. One early morning, Dad was walking the dogs down Mt Newton. A car of young men pulled over and asked him for a light. When he said he didn’t have one, the door opened. Dad didn’t know what their intentions were but he was nervous and said,
– Son, I would stay in the car if I were you. The Lab is mine but the Rottweiler is my daughter’s and I can’t control her.
Just then, Teasha started growling. The car door closed and drove away.
Satan and Pasquale are buried at the farm.
Sophie and Teasha are cremated in urns on the living room mantel. I have instructions to bury them with Dad in his coffin.
– Will you look at these dogs?
– What would we do without such beautiful companions?