Everyone thinks their dog is the best and everyone’s argument has merit. All dogs are special and I pity those who don’t like dogs. Iggy truly was a special dog. He probably was the runt of the litter and I picked him because of the white spot on his chest. He was also more playful than the other remaining puppy and except for that one remaining sibling, I never saw the other dogs in the litter. They were gone by the time I got Iggy. But I know I got the pick of the litter. He brought so much joy and happiness to my life and everyone else who met him. Caring for him was never a chore, never a bother, never a problem, and not once in 14 years did I even think it was a burden.
George Carlin did a stand up bit years ago, in ’97, I think, right after I got Iggy. It was about his pets. Hilarious and profane, sweet and poignant, he made a couple comments about how, when we buy a dog, we know, “It is going to end badly.” “It is part of the deal,” Carlin said. “You’re purchasing a small tragedy.”
Carlin’s observations were accurate, of course, but I always added something to them. Even though we know it is going end badly, all the joy and happiness we get from our dogs makes that awful day worthwhile. I thought of Carlin’s comments and my addendum every single day during the time I had Iggy. No joke, no exaggeration. It’s true. Every single day. I knew the bad day would come. I made sure I enjoyed every moment with him.
We have our dogs for a limited amount of time. They don’t last long. They all die. I expected to have Iggy for twelve years, so the fact he lasted fourteen-plus years was an incredible bonus. Those last two years were borrowed time. I know that. I thought about my good fortune every single day.
I’m glad I was with Iggy when he died. He died of natural causes and he did not die alone. We were in our home and I’m sure he was happy that I was doing one of my favorite things, watching a football game and enjoying a beer, because Iggy was doing his favorite thing, lying on his bed, watching me.
From the day I brought him home and watched him spend ten minutes running a loop around my living room, hitting the door stop with his paw with each pass just so he could hear the “thudadadaadadada” of the spring, until his last day when he ran in to the house after being outside for an hour — and ran up the steps two at a time — he was a total joy. I might have a smarter dog some day, I might have a tougher dog some day, but I fear I’ll never have a more affectionate dog.
Here’s the last thought I’ll leave with you. Every single night of his life, after his final walk of the day and after getting a treat, he would pace and huff and puff and wouldn’t settle down until he extracted one more thing from me. I would have to sit on the floor and then he would immediately run over to me. He wanted a hug. Every night. The same thing. A hug. Then he’d go lie down and fall asleep.