Bean the Spokesdog turned 5 earlier this month — on the 9th. A wee bit more extra affection, some photos, (have I mentioned this dog absolutely LOVES to get his photo taken?)and because he lucked out and we had a stunningly gorgeous summer day here — blue sky, sunshine, slight breeze, low humidity, green green green everywhere — we ended it with a long late afternoon walk, a little extra dinner and a good thick chew for dessert.
When I look at my youngest dog, my boy who is now 5, I see a dog who is loyal, true, not so smart, almost annoyingly thoughty, yet almost wholly reliable in the house and out, on leash and off, representing me in public events and consistently accompanying me each early morning no matter the weather for our brief alone time of getting the newspaper while he waters the tree, the lawn, the expanding hastas, not necessarily but usually in that order. He always beats me back up the stairs, sometimes by just a hair!
I think back to how he entered my life and some of the milestones along the way — I met Bean sight unseen at a restaurant parking lot off I-77 with his breeders — they were heading west from NJ to Missouri; I drove south from Cleveland to intersect with them and meet him for the first time. Oh, I had queried his breeder several times and seen video so by the time I did meet him, I felt like I already knew him — he was exactly as I had imagined. That first day I actually counted how many people met him between pick up and bringing him the house for the first time — it was a mind boggling 27!
There certainly are a lot of memories from our five years together, but one entered into my active memory recently, probably because it was a crispy hot day. Early on, when Bean was about 5 months old, I took him on a walk along with my brother, his wife and their 3 dogs in the woods and fields about a 15 minute drive from my home. It was a bleak late fall day and as we walked in the crisp, cold of it all, gray skies above and a layer of snow crunching under our boots, the four dogs off leash, we began ambling by what looked like the foundation of a previous building. Peering over the crumbling low remaining walls, you could see into the pit that was formed — there were lots of dead leaves, snow, branches and other debris littering the ground. I remember mentioning aloud how I wondered how you would get out if you fell in and as the words were leaving my lips, I watched in absolute frozen horror as Bean sailed through the air, over the wall and fell into the pit. He missed being impaled by a jagged branch by inches and safely landed on a large pile of snow covered leaves. Completely unhurt. I remember screaming out, “call 911, get a helicopter to air lift him out.” My brother looked at me as if I were insane and Marina, his wife, calmly noted there was an attached ladder down into the pit. Without hesitation she clambered down, picked up Bean and handed him up. The other dogs watched, I have to think they were mildly amused.
Summer is a month along but it feels like it’s zooming by. I have a ton of new puppy clients — lots of people getting pups during the school summer break to have the time, good weather and opportunity to train before heading back to more structured routines come fall. But inbetween the training classes and private sessions, car pool to camp, endless vacuuming, I try to stop and watch the dogs and thank them, yet again, for being so well behaved, and give myself a small pat on the back for shaping them into such steady pals for my life at this point.