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It was going to be hot; which meant I needed to mow the lawn early in the day; although mowing the front lawn near the edge of the road mainly consists of creating huge clouds of dust and sending across the road the various pieces of gravel which the department of public works had spread all winter long. Those same yahoos who invite me to play “hide and seek” with my mailbox every winter storm; and I pay them well to do it too. Cody was lying underneath one of the trees in the front yard, his paws in the air, squirming on his back in the cool morning grass. Lesson here; deeply enjoy life’s little pleasures whenever you can.

Comet; painting the skies with love.

She caught my eye from a distance up the road. I noticed that her gait was much slower than her usual daily walk around the neighborhood. She was alone; the empty space beside her obvious and hurtful. I continued mowing away from her, in the same direction she was headed. When I turned around to make a return pass facing her, she noticed me and waved. I killed the mower and took off my earmuffs and safety glasses. Yeah, safety spaz; hell, I can end up bleeding by just sweeping the sidewalk. A real practicing klutz.

She glanced up and noticed I was still watching her. She raised her hand to wave again but quickly brought her hands to her face. She tried to wave me off as I approached her. No, I don’t think so. The distress on her face was clear, painful to see and quickly shot to my heart. She tried to explain through sobs and broken words that she couldn’t talk about it. Just couldn’t and tried again to wave me off. Bullshit. I reached out for her hands and pulled her in and hugged her, as much for me as for her. It was hard she said, so hard. It came so sudden; they certainly weren’t prepared. They were all devastated. He was such a big part of their lives; the kids were taking it okay, but everyone was lost in their own way. They loved him so much and he loved them back. The hole was huge. They miss him so.

For those who aren’t animal lovers, it may be hard to understand the impact that the passing of a beloved pet has on those of us who consider them our furry children. To some, we all look like the crazy cat ladies we always hear about; so be it. Guilty as charged. But those who are fortunate to have the priceless love of an animal understand it fully. Try to find anything on two legs in your life that will show you the dedication, the devotion, non-judgmental love and the willingness to let you be the center of their universe; far and few between.

No, these are our furry toddlers; it takes that kind of dedication. Often, it’s another damp carpet; maybe pieces of your favorite shoe spread across the living room. Sometimes it’s those dammed dead spots on the lawn or the wonderful piles of humiliation that you can never seem to completely clean from the nooks and crannies on the bottoms of your sneakers. But they’ll still look deeply in your eyes and let you know that you are the only human on the planet that matters. Have a horrible day at work and they’ll wag you back to peace. Don’t feed them; they’ll forgive you. Be an asshole; they don’t care. Heap unwarranted abuse on them and they’ll still look deeply into your soul and tell you that it doesn’t matter; as long as they can feel your hand between their ears, hear your voice, be in your presence, tug on the other end of that rope, their life is complete. They’re not here to judge, to accuse, to demean. They’ll still love you, often well beyond any measure that you should be entitled to; they’d be willing to die for you. And not once would they demand anything in return.

Comet meant that much to her and her family. He meant a bit to some of the rest of the neighborhood too. He was a rather large dog; long legged, loopy gate. He seemed to be the type of dog that you would swear was smiling. He was a “Golden Doodle,” a breed whose name would bring a smile if not outright giggles. I’m quite sure that “Golden Doodle” translates in some places around the world to “Shetland Pony.” He was usually covered in curls, soft and deep. The occasional shearing made it even more obvious that he was a large framed animal, not just a bunch of hair for show. His pinkish-brown, wet nose seemed to have the circumference of a baseball. I’m sure that some found his size intimidating; for others it may have been his high level of enthusiasm. But in the end, he was he was large vessel of love and happiness and I was always prepared with treats in my pockets when we passed. And he knew it. I for one will miss his commanding voice, a bark that would resonate across the neighborhood. Some may have found this too, to be intimidating. But it was his way of telling his family, and those who were walking by that he was keeping an eye on anyone who might approach those who he would willingly die for.

As with any comet, he was rare. Comets shine brightly but briefly and we’re left with the memory of how they painted the dark skies of our lives. So it is with Comet. And I’m sure that Lisa and Peyton and their kids will have these brief moments in the future when something will jar their memories and they’ll recall the Comet that appeared briefly in their lives and touched them all. The pain will eventually fade and the memories will be far more joyful than they are now. And in whatever sky he is streaking across now, with his wet, pink baseball-sized nose I’m sure he loves them as deeply as he did when we was laying at their feet. One would imagine he’s in the fields of heaven giving the local squirrels a hard time.

God Speed Comet; I hear the angels love a good game of tug-of-war.

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