Seven and a half years ago, Theresa Walker called to tell me that the puppy she had promised to me would be brought to town by Brooks, and I could come by her office to pick one of the four. We put the four pups out on the grass in front of the office, and the potential owners all sat in a circle around them. One small bundle of reddish-black fur pushed through his brother and sisters and made his way directly to me, laid down against my leg, and promptly fell asleep. I knew he had chosen me.
Theresa said that her son, Hawkins, had named that particular pup Dozer because he had a habit of bulldozing his way through his siblings for meals, for petting, or just for fun. I decided that the name was appropriate, picked him up and put him in my truck, and began a very long friendship.
Our family never had "indoor" dogs. We had lots of dogs over the years and, though we loved all of them, they were relegated to the back yard, trips to the creek and running through the fields when we moved irrigation pipe. But, that first night, it was 24 degrees, and Dozer was still just a tiny puppy who could fit in the palm of my hand. He slept with me that first night, and that was where he would stay for the rest of the nights of his life.
During the days, he went everywhere I did, including the office. I created a cubby hole under my desk with a sleeping bag for a dog bed. The office cat was not amused by the new resident and took months to stop jumping up on the desks to get away from him. Once she stopped jumping, the two of them became best of friends, wrestling in the floor, eating one another's food and exchanging scathing looks when they passed one another.
For Donna and I, Dozer's need for toilet training became a very good reason to take a break, walk around the building and get some fresh air. We got so comfortable with the route he took each day (behind Santos, in front of the Winery, into the front and back yards of the Wine Bar, around the dumpster and back through the empty lot) that he was finally allowed to make the entire circuit by himself. If he took too long, I would use my infamous "mad daddy voice," and he would kick it up a few notches to return to a spot a few paces behind me.
He was a miniature Dachshund, and that meant that he had an incredible set of lungs. Since I'm hard of hearing, his barking helped alert me when someone walked into the office. The downside was that he was insanely jealous and protective of me, so the barking would continue long past the point at which it had been useful. The "dog" people that came in laughed it off. The others, well, they shook their heads and tolerated his noise.
On Tuesday night, he ran after a pickup out at a friends house, barking at the dog in the pickup bed. I heard "the sound" before I saw what had happened. He made only one or two kicks before I got to him. I picked him up, comforted him for a few minutes, and he was gone. The driver, at that point, was more distraught than I was.
I took Dozer home. My dad, Sean and I buried him down at the end of the garden, one of the places that he was only allowed occasionally; but, that he loved when the chance was offered.
That night, for the first time in seven and a half years, I slept alone in my bed. I found myself reaching over to where he usually slept, even though I knew he wasn't there. The next morning, after I got the newspaper out on the street, I gathered all his things and put them in one spot, emptied his food and water bowls, and put his collar up on the fireplace mantle in my office.
I know he was just a dog; but, he was my dog. He spent more time with me than anyone else I can think of offhand, and he helped me stop thinking about only myself. I think just about anyone who knows me will tell you that 17 pounds of short haired love and affection made me a better person and showed me how to be patient, how to share, and how to love unconditionally.
I'm going to miss you, Dozer. Give Lilly Joy some wet kisses for me.
It’s all just my opinion.