my dog, Roquefort, turned 13 today. actually, I guess he is my ex-dog. he lives with juliann now. juliann sent me a picture and a video of him today. he looks just like always. hasn't aged a day. although he apparently has arthritis now and he can't do more than 15 minute walks.
I remember when we would do 14 mile hikes. I remember one hike in particular where I lost my keys. that turned a 9 mile hike into a 12 mile hike. sometimes, when I was unemployed or didn't have enough work at my own law firm I would go on hikes with him. just the two of us out in the woods.
I remember those great years when I was sober. when I was finishing law school, when I was starting life with my new bride. when he was just a pup with big paws that he would grow into. I remember when I would take him on 3 hour walks to the local lake. I remember someone passing us by and saying, "what a lucky dog you are, having your owner taking you out for a nice long walk around the lake in this beautiful weather."
I remember getting coffee after those walks. him not being allowed in, I would tie him up outside and he would sit like a statue, craning his massive neck and head to always keep me in his line of vision. I remember giving him ice cubes while I sipped an iced coffee.
I remember his big wet tongue. how he would lick me when he had enough of me smothering him. I loved that he was not a clingy dog. he wanted his space. yet, he always had to be around either me or juliann. he would never go out in the yard alone.
I remember his little pot belly as a pup. I remember him howling like a hound dog when we left him in his crate. I remember our landlord calling us saying that we needed to get home asap.
I remember coming home one afternoon after a terrible law exam only to find that he had shredded my boxers. I remember him running to me being like, "dude, dude, you will NOT believe this, but somebody tore up all your boxers!!!"
I'm afraid I will leave out a memory in this entry. his name is roquefort because juliann wanted to name him after a cheese. roquefort just seemed to fit him. here I am writing in the past tense; as if he weren't still alive! later I would tell people we named him roquefort because he was expensive and stinky, just like the cheese.
I remember when I would be drunk. how he hated that. I remember that he would sit next to me when I sobbed about my drunken transgressions. I remember feeling his breath on me and his soft, mellow, brown eyes looking at me as if he were somehow trying to comprehend the horrible demon that was possessing his human. but it was incomprehensible to him. incomprehensible to me. he just didn't understand. he just knew that I was different. that I smelled a certain way and that that smell was to be associated with volatility.
I remember when I would get up in the mornings and shower only to come back to see him having taken my place in bed. wrapped up tightly to juliann. she giggling that she had coaxed him to keep her warm. me feigning annoyance but deep down thanking god that there was at least some being that could consistently protect and love her.
I remember that he would make people cross the street. I never worried about the dark undercurrents of the city threatening me or juliann when we were with him. I remember the three of us walking through the streets, looking at houses, hands held, roquefort darting to and fro in front of us, chasing this imaginary scent and that one. I remember we had our whole lives before us. I remember juliann screaming at him angrily when he darted off after a squirrel, and I remember her ringing laughter when he came hightailing it back, worried that we had left him.
I remember his big pit bull grin. like the jaws of an alligator. with his tongue lolling out of the side. like some big comedic conglomeration of breeds. we never really knew what he was. he was a mutt. part pit bull, part German shepherd, part lab, part Rottweiler, part-who-the-fuck-knows. he was ours. he was our family.
he snored loudly, he barked wildly, he growled menacingly. he would get pit fits or the zoomies. he took on our personalities. or maybe we took on his. patient, stolid, loving but not overly-so. funny. he was a therapy dog. we spent a lot of time training him.
now he's 13. I have not see him in almost 3 years. he used to lay next to me everyday when I studied for the bar or when I worked in my own law firm. so much so that he was in my dreams. I remember, when we divorced, juliann was worried I would fight her for roquefort. I couldn't do that. I couldn't take him from her or. her from him. they needed each other. and they needed me out of their lives. the good nick who had existed had ceased to exist. the nick who made her laugh and him give his big pit bull smile was no more.
I wonder if he ever thinks about me. am I going crazy? I know he doesn't. I know he doesn't once-in-a-while stop and think, "where's nick"? the world is black and white for animals. one day you are there and one day you are not. I like to think that if he did he would think as follows,
"where's nick? i wonder if he still randomly cries. I wonder if he still has that strong smell. I wonder if he walks other dogs. I love the walks we used to take. I love the way he made my dog momma laugh. I loved the smell of them when they were young. I loved when they hid from me and I lost my god-damned mind. heheh, those crazy motherfuckers. yeah, I wonder where nick is now-a-days. I hope he's doing better, because I do love him. he's not just some any such other person, he was my human even if he is not here anymore. I do hope that he is happy. I am happy. yes. I am happy."