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My Loyal Friend

Aug 17, 2008
Kimmy Sophia Brown

Death is probably one of the hardest things that we have to deal with as human beings. Even if one has a belief in the afterlife, there is still the shock of the absence of the loved one. C.S. Lewis said in his book, A Grief Observed, "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing."

Stephanie Ericcson says in her book, Companion Through the Darkness, “In grief we are put through, albeit seemingly prematurely, the dying process, long before we think we are ready. For grief is a spiritual death while we are still alive.”

One of my best friends died this week. He was very quiet and small. He weighed thirty pounds. His name was Bogey. He was my dog. Rather than dwelling on the question as to whether dogs have spirits and if they do indeed go to heaven, as the movie suggested, I want to talk about friendship.

I’ve had many friends in my life. I played with neighborhood kids when I was growing up. I had friends in high school. Our main past time was to laugh our heads off. I have had close friends in my adult life who have made all the difference to me at various times. They waded with me in the water of the trenches. They encouraged me when I was down. They validated my existence. The love and understanding of close friends can help us, as the hackneyed expression says, to “keep on keeping on.” They can sometimes give us a reason to live.

What about a dog? What is a dog? Webster’s dictionary says a dog is, “a: canid; especially: a highly variable domestic mammal (Canis familiaris) closely related to the gray wolf.”

But is that all? One might ask, why is this domestic mammal, closely related to the gray wolf, such a creature who can entangle my heart with its heart, my life with its life?

For me, Bogey was Charlie McCarthy to my Edgar Bergen. I projected my alter-ego thoughts through him in a “dog” voice that just “came” to me. His remarks at various situations came to the surface immediately without my thinking. His existence provided for me a constant, comic dialogue with the world at large. He was also an extremely cute dog, kind of a Skye Terrier mix. He had a Scottie dog head and long orange coat. He was famously aloof and even downright unfriendly to strangers, but to me, he was my boy. My fourth son. My loyal friend. He followed me around the house with unceasing constancy. I got up in the morning and came downstairs. He followed. I went to the kitchen, the office, the bathroom, back to the kitchen, outside, inside, back to the kitchen, back upstairs, downstairs, office, bathroom, kitchen. He calmly and unceremoniously got up and followed and then lay down wherever I was.

At night he lay at the end of our bed facing away from us. He was a dog of few words. He was delighted when I came home and might even offer a reserved lick or two. He wiggled and flattened his usually pointy ears (which meant excited delight) upon our return from somewhere. But he avoided eye contact. Being English or perhaps Scottish, he wasn’t publicly demonstrative. Still, he had great loyalty. He was there, he was there, he was there. He stationed himself like a guard at Buckingham Palace. All noises in the night were addressed with a loud, authoritarian bark. He was suspicious of visitors until they were “cleared” by us, his family. He bullied the other pets; Vinny the Cat, Indi the Other Dog, and previous pets that lived with us.

I found him in the Animal Control Facility in Virginia Beach a couple of days before Christmas, 2000. It was love at first sight. We went through some rocky months of housebreaking and things like that, but once he was trained, he remained our body guard, our security system, our protector, our loyal friend.

I thank God for creating all creatures, but especially dogs. They possess a certain representation of His heart; they are innocent, true, loyal, unconditional. I cannot understand people who don’t love animals. I realize they can be messy or smelly, or they impinge on our freedom a bit as in, “How can I go away for the weekend?” I have to pay to board the dog. But beyond the realm of bodily functions or monetary constraints, God has provided us with a unique array of beings that can increase our understanding of Him.

My husband, Peter, just showed me this excerpt from a book by Al G. Manning:

“The author J. Allen Boone was watching his dog, Strongheart, on the beach, contemplating the dog’s expression of the magnificent qualities of love, discipline, intelligence and richness of being when he got the intuitive flash: No, look at those wonderful qualities of the Infinite expressing as a dog.”

I believe that our magnificent Heavenly Parent expresses Himself/Herself not only in male and female human beings but in the plant kingdom (consider the mighty oak tree, the delicious and exotic mango, the intoxicating scent of gardenia or the elegance of an orchid!), the insect kingdom, (the industrious ant, the busy bee, the beautiful butterfly!), the bird kingdom (the cheerful goldfinch, the royal peacock or the handsomely dressed penguin!) and the animal kingdom, the confident lion, the majestic horse, the loyal dog.

It’s been five days now. I keep expecting him to turn up at the door saying, “Just fooling folks, I just wanted to make sure you didn’t take me for granted.”

No, Bogey, you were never taken for granted. I kissed your little forehead every day, looked into your sincere brown eyes and said, thank you for being my loyal friend.

Bogey is buried at the top of a beautiful hill in the tall grass outside some woods behind our house. From the kitchen window, we can see the spot in front of a very large tree. We lay flowers on his little grave and I expect we will visit it many times as often as we can. I believe one day when my done-for physical body is pushing up daisies, I shall find myself in a bed somewhere in the afterlife and I will feel a lump down by my feet and I will reach down and I will feel the coat of my loyal friend. I can’t think of a more wonderful gift from God.

My husband wrote a short story about Bogey's death, to comfort our children. It's posted in Significato, and is called "Bogey the Magnificent ~ a story for anyone who has ever lost a dog ~".

Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.

She writes the column "From the Back Porch" as well as reviews of music in her column "MusicViews". Her goal in her music reviews is to introduce music she loves to people who may not have heard that particular artist or CD. For information about how to submit a CD for review, click here.

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