Sunday, August 15, 2010
The other day we lost our beloved Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Blue. He was hit by a truck.
And I have never hugged—or been hugged by a stranger so intensely.
But first, Blue.
Blue was a year-old blue merle male Cardigan Welsh Corgi. He was unusually colored—white with black flecks. But the reason he was named Blue was his eyes—he had crystal clear baby blue eyes that danced when they looked at you.
Blue was not a bad dog. He had one bad habit, and that was to bark when anybody came home. He had a deep, resonating bark, and when my husband walked through the door Blue was particularly “welcoming.” “Knock it off,” my husband would say, and invariably Blue would settle down and find a bone.
Bones were another of Blue’s habits that I will miss. We learned early on that he could not tolerate rawhide, so I started buying him beef tail bones at the local food store. They were filled with marrow and sometimes had meat still left on them. Blue quickly learned that when food store bags came into the house he was going to get a treat. I had just bought him the biggest bone to date.
Finally, the kids. After dealing with the accident I told my husband. He buried Blue under a tree in the back yard, and one by one we told the kids what happened. They’re stoic kids, but I knew Kelly, my middle child and animal lover, would take it hardest. She was the one that ushered Blue to her room to sleep when I wanted him to sleep in his crate. She was the one that came up with nicknames for him. She even bestowed a “best friend” dog tag on him.
But back to my neighbor. We have lived here sine 1989, and in 2002 a small house development was built 1/2 mile away. This is a quiet road, and most people keep to themselves. There are not a lot of houses on the road at all,
So as I’m calling for Blue I turn the other way to call for him through our pine trees. I then turn around to see this truck coming up my driveway. He rolls down his window and I ask, cheerfully, “I guess you know who I’m looking for?” This neighbor—who has lived here since 2006 I later learned—says in a quivering voice, “Yes. Your dog.” “Where is he?” I asked. The neighbor gets out of his truck, points to the edge of my property and says, ‘There. I just hit him with my truck.”
And then he starts to work very hard at holding back tears. ‘What’s your name?” I ask. “Mike,” he says. ‘Mike, it’s not your fault.” And with that I reached out to him to give him a hug—this man—this stranger who is now linked to me—this friend. He accepts the hug and hugs me back—not a polite hug, but an embrace filled with sorrow and need. At that moment I needed to hug Mike because he was hurting just as bad as I was. He was crying over taking away the dog that he knew gave us so much joy. “I’ve seen him playing on your grass,” he choked out. And at that moment I needed a hug from the person closest to me—at that moment—to the heartbreak at hand.
Mike asked if he could do anything for me. I asked him to help me carry Blue to the back yard. I realize now that this was a tall order. But Mike gingerly picked up Blue and carried him to the tree where I knew my husband would bury him.
And when Mike went to get back in his truck we hugged again. I asked him if he’d be all right to carry on with his day.
But I never did ask his last name.
I think for Blue I will find that out this week. Because Blue never met a person he didn’t like. And he would’ve liked Mike.