I'm smiling as I'm writing this, because it is probably the most pleasant and personal subject I will ever blog about. Let me introduce you to Happy.
Happy was my childhood dog. We got him when I was in first grade, and he lived until I was a freshman in highschool. So he was pretty much my best friend all of my youth. A family friend found Happy in the woods, skinny and muddy, and traded him to us for a pile of wood. I'm sure we got the best end of the trade. Part beagle/part black lab, he embodied the best qualities of both breeds. I always felt that Happy was grateful to us for rescuing him because he could never stop thanking us. He did everything he could to please us. The only thing bad I recall that he did was to sneak up onto the dining room table late at night and lick all the sugar out of the sugar bowl. That was an offense for which my brothers and I got blamed for many years.
Happy was mostly my dog. I lived in a small suburb in Vermont, and at the time dogs were commonly let out in the morning, wandered around loose all day, and came home for dinner. Happy followed me everywhere. When I walked to my friend's house, he'd follow me and wait on the doorstep until I was done playing, and then follow me home. Not even a thunderstorm, that he was so afraid of, would cause him to leave that doorstep.
One of our favorite things to do together was to play in the puddles. After a summer rain we'd go outside and splash and dance in that shallow muddy water. To this day I can't look at a rain puddle without feeling happy inside.
The best thing about Happy was that I could tell him all my secrets, from playground slights to teenage crushes. Happy always understood. Happy never tired of listening, either. He also got along great with my cat, and my bunny, and in fact, everyone--except for men in uniform.
I'm not going to go into the day he died, but I remember ever second of it in detail. Mostly when I think about Happy, I think about that once in a lifetime dog, the one who understands you like no one else, the one who personifies devotion. And that's Happy.