I still have a hard time looking at this picture four days after this dog (Mort) went to the other side. I believe that dogs occupy a space in some of our lives (and mine) that is primal and touches something that other humans just don’t reach.
This dog would be so excited when I got home that he would cry like a puppy even at frail, deaf, half-blind, tumor-in-his-mouth 16 years old. I used to work in a very stressful job working with people in treatment for addictions, and as a clinical supervisor I was also almost constantly frustrated by the management of the place where I worked, and this greeting from him would make all that slip away. Bourbon used to do that for me — until it didn’t anymore.
This dog connected with me on a basic level of just sharing being alive. He needed me for food and shelter, and I needed him to remind me that caring for and about an animal grounds me like nothing else can.
Per the Furry Lewis song also done by Dave VanRonk (“Old Blue”), when I get his ashes back I’m going to dig his grave with a silver spade and lower him down with a golden chain. With every link I will call his name.