Steve Allen once said that an old man misses many dogs.
This is because dogs don’t live as long as humans, and if we are dog lovers, chances are we will own multiple dogs throughout our lives and we will thus engage in a continuous series of greetings and goodbyes.
Today we said goodbye to Isabel, our 14-year-old black poodle whose relatively long, exuberant life included such mischievous adventures as consuming frozen bread dough (which thawed and rose throughout her intestinal tract and necessitated a night at the emergency vet hospital); an entire pan of dark chocolate brownies (another vet visit); whole raw rib-eye steaks we were about to grill for a dinner party; and countless tidbits, large and small, that she deftly stole off the kitchen counter when I wasn’t looking.
She was so adept at this clandestine skill that after she became blind she was still able to sense when my back was turned and then…poof…she was up, down and out of the kitchen with her goods.
She would have made a great pick-pocket.
My husband and kids always said that it was my fault, that it was my obligation as a human to outsmart Isabel by keeping food away from the edge of the counter. True as this may have been, it was impossible for me to match her indomitable canine raison d’être, to remember that every single time I entered the kitchen she was scoping me out, waiting for an opportunity to strike.
If we had kept score, it would have looked something like this: Isabel, 526; Anne, zip.
But despite her a bottomless pit of an appetite, she was an eternally happy creature who, once she was fed, liked nothing better than to curl up next to Champ, her favorite human, and sleep it off.
This morning, at the very moment she drifted away from us at Annette the vet’s office and we were crying and saying goodbye to her, her tail wagged. Annette pointed it out to us and said that she’d never seen anything like it.
I’d like to think that Isabel was telling us that she loved us back, but truth be known, she was probably thinking of those steaks.