In recent weeks my old dogs hair had grown softer, smoother, more sleek. Seemed it took on an even darker, more luminous shade of black? Patting her head, stroking her flanks was even more of a joy to my touch. Her upturned eyes looking back at me, had grown cloudy with cataracts. Yet somehow, the glow of love behind them seemed deeper, more intense than it had been during our long years together.


In recent weeks my old dogs hair had grown softer, smoother, more sleek. Seemed it took on an even darker, more luminous shade of black? Patting her head, stroking her flanks was even more of a joy to my touch. Her upturned eyes looking back at me, had grown cloudy with cataracts. Yet somehow, the glow of love behind them seemed deeper, more intense than it had been during our long years together.
 Nearly fifteen years she’d been hanging around the house. Following me (relentlessly) with those eyes, exhibiting a keen interest in whatever I was doing. Especially if I was doing it in the kitchen!
 There, her one track mind always focused on the dry sink. The smell of cooking or glow from the open refrigerator might momentarily take precedence, but that old dry sink was where her “Goodies” (treats) resided!
 True to her breed (American Cocker Spaniel) she was a grand master at obtaining goodies (she’d never stoop to begging). No barking or physical nudging like some larger breeds. Oh sure, on occasion a barely audible whine might escape, if I wasn’t paying attention? But that mental and visual focus rarely failed her.
 The kitchen was where she fully exercised her powerful mental abilities (in influencing my behavior). That powerful mental focus never  let up. Unlike an obedient dog, she was completely adept at training me in proper behavior. Almost telepathic abilities urged me incessantly to open the door, pop the lid, remove a goody, lean down and present it to her.
 Many dogs have been kind enough to spend their years and lives with me. But none could rival her in mental powers or the ability to get what she wanted. Food, goodies (of any type) and petting were the defining order of her life. Everything else..., a walk outside, a ride in the car, the affection of visitors (or me) were secondary.
 I’ve often told friends I’d never known a dog with the kind of boundless energy she possessed.
Most puppies I’ve known, when they’re really young, will play and play nonstop. Then about every 20~30 minutes they simply flop over wherever they are. Sleep coming instantly and play resuming after a cat (puppy?) nap. Not this dog! Near as I can recall, she didn’t sleep (at all!) the first two years she was around the house!
 Lately she’d finally tired. Her hearing had let her down the past year or two. So in performing her “guard duty” she’d been reduced to the furtive, errant bark at the front door. These rare barks were followed by an inquisitive look in my direction. As if to say, “See? I’m still on the job, I’m still useful..., git me a goody”.
 Sometimes I’d open the front door, allowing her look outside for any perceived intruder lurking there. But recently I’d stopped doing that, because the look of disappointment in her eyes was too painful. Nevertheless, a goody was always proffered, bringing that joyful glow back into her eyes. It pleased her to feel useful, so who was I to point out there was no one there?
 She managed right up to the past month to be the best “vacuum” dog there ever was! Patrolling the floors in search of errant crumbs with unending enthusiasm.
 But her hips had begun to fail her. Her gait became unsteady. She fell often in the house. Not so much fell, as collapsed unexpectedly, as she struggled to walk around. She’d developed kidney disease and growths on her throat making eating, even breathing, a chore. I had to carry her out to the yard to “do her duties” several times a day. Even with my back “out” and in more pain than usual these past several weeks, I did this without complaint.
 Finally, I was needed as something more than a “goody” provider.
 Her dignity was never compromised. Fourteen years she’d always “raced” rather than walked around the house. Now I could see the “question” in her eyes each time she fell over. So I’d stand her up. She’d pant awhile, walk a few steps and “rest” wherever she dropped over again.
 Yesterday I called my oldest friend, Rich. He asked, “What do you need, man?” Mumbling, I replied, “I need a hole dug”. “What...?! Why?”, he asked. “My dog died...,” was all I could manage. He was there within the hour.
 Tears streaming, I carried her outside one final time. We buried my old dog in the backyard near one of her favorite spots.
 “I Don’t Know About You...,” All I wanted was for her to ask for a “Goody” one more time.
 Cal Teeple, usually found three stools down, he may be ignored, accosted or contacted. Founder of the Observational Cogitation Consortium, he’s also found at: www.wayneindependent.com/cal Or At: calteeple@gmail.com.