Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Good Dog

There’s something you need to know about me, in order for the following story to make sense:

I’m not a dog person.

My family, as I grew up, had a pet cat for quite a long time; but that wasn’t it. It was probably the three German shepherds (or equivalent) that lived in my neighborhood, as I grew up, which were always in very bad moods all the time. They looked at me like I was either (1) an affront to their existence, or (2) tasty-looking, potentially with ketchup. One of them actually drew blood — mine — when I was three or four years old. So.

I could go on with stories about those miserable ambassadors of the canine world, but the following story is not about them. It is, rather, about a dog much more deserving of admiration and praise.

I met this particular dog several years ago, while I was visiting her mom’s house. When I arrived at the front door, and rang the bell, her mom (a longtime friend from college) came to the door and said, “you thought you even needed to ring the bell? Come in!” Well, it’s polite. Also, I knew there was a dog in the house (and, for the record, at least a couple of cats), and I wanted to give it a nice wide berth, since we had not yet formally met.

As any good guard dog would, the basset hound barked firmly, thrice. “Hello you!” I called, very bravely and with a completely false air of enthusiasm. Since this was a dog belonging to this particular longtime friend of mine, I felt I should be very polite and appear very friendly; so against all my life’s conditioning, I held my hand out in the basset’s direction, and hoped for the best.

Sniff. Sniff. Slight lick. Nod. Little tiny bark, more of a “gruff”. The sound didn’t sound anything like the German shepherds of my childhood had sounded. It didn’t sound at all like the last sound I would ever hear.

We adjourned to the den, which contained snacks and a large television. Upon sitting down on the couch, I sensed a presence down and to the right. Looking down, I discovered that the basset hound had followed at a careful remove, then crept around the couch, stopping at my foot and looking up expectantly. I patted her head. She did not bite my patting hand clean off.

For the next couple of hours, I was conversing with my old college friend, and petting my new basset friend.

For the next several visits, my new basset friend met me at the door with a couple of requisite barks, and then it was as if I hadn’t left. “Oh, it’s that one,” she seemed to muse; and for the rest of each visit, I appeared to be perfectly acceptable to her, and I was pleased that I still appeared to be perfectly acceptable to her. Particularly since those visits were yearly at their most frequent; but she remembered.

I was also always pleased to watch this dog and her mom take care of each other in equal measure.

The basset’s name was Della.

After a lengthy illness, Della passed away this morning.

I haven’t known many dogs well enough to really miss them after they’ve gone to their reward. And I got to hang out with this one no more than a dozen times, probably.

But I’ll really miss Della. And I have no doubt that the reward she meets will very well deserved indeed.

Good dog.


August 29, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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