ODE TO HARRY THE TALKING DOG
I think sometimes, or actually, I know always, that when we choose to love an animal, to knit their little paws, or big ones into the needlework of our family, we put aside the macabre and untouchable thought that they will, with nature’s law intact, go before us.
This past week, my big brother, Steve lost his twelve-year companion, Harry, a snow white Golden Retriever who boxed himself in as an only child. Well, really, he was. Since puppydom, Harry was raised inside the hallowed halls of Perillo Tours, family owned and operated since 1945. So, it would only seem right, that Steve, now CEO, would raise his “dog son” surrounded by marble from Carrrara and authentic wood bannisters from Abruzzi. I mean, shouldn’t every puppy be raised the Italian way?
Harry loved his treats, and his humble and obedient servants always provided. His office traipse always lead him to those snackers who just happen to have dog treats, and he was relentless: don’t leave unless you come back with a treat. Almost like the Wizard demanding the witch’s broomstick. He would sit, and dance on his paws, and his message was clear, without speech…I need a yummie.
I “babysat” Harry for many years when Steve would go on business trips. I loved him because he was my brother’s dog, but with seven kids at the time, and two other dogs, he would come barreling in like “where is my room,” with his virtual suitcase and entourage of doggie supplies. He could care less about incorporating himself in the dog world of then Lello and Blitzen, and more about getting my attention as doggie mom. He reminded me a little of Stewie from Family Guy the way he would bark at me, and then just want me to say “WHAAAAT HARRY?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOLxQGLJouI. He would wait for me at the bottom of my stairs and growl at my own dogs like they had no place there.
Steve and I both have “canine fences” for our dogs since our properties are not hard fenced in. As Harry got older and knew his boundaries, when for whatever reasons his collar wasn’t on, he would appear at my front door, at any hour of the day or night, and just bark. I had to let him in, and he just wanted to hang, and bark. Steve would pick him up on his golf cart, (Harry’s favorite mode of transportation), and go back to doggie palace. Once, I was five months pregnant with Gianmarco, and I had to get Harry across the street at my brother’s house and bring him to mine. I drove the five seconds, because I knew…as predicted, Harry would be temperamental about going on his leash and coming. BINGO! There I was, ready for YouTube reality, pulling the shit out of this full grown Golden Retriever to get him into my car. I lifted him like a Volga boatman pushing cargo onto a ship, and he sat in the passenger’s seat. I felt my uterus dilating by the second. It was a 10 second ride to my house, and he would not exit. Ok, Harry, just sit there…and he did. Until he realized he was not getting chauffeured anywhere. He just came to the door and barked…he was done, now.
Kudos to my brother for walking Harry on every beautiful day to and from the office. He loved to journey back and forth, and was, for sure a faithful friend to my brother, who probably prefers dogs over people.
When a dog starts to deteriorate, there is no mistaking it. Harry survived a knee operation, a hip operation, and was strong like bull until recently. Lello, Blitzen then Stella and Harry used to bark at each other across the street for many years, every morning. At the crack of dawn, the Harry howls and choppy bark of my shepherd used to mimic the IPhone dog bark alarm. But recently, Stella would bark, and there would be no response from across the cul de sac. I knew Harry was slowing down.
So this past week, we said goodbye to Harry, who sadly passed away at the age of 12 after a short bout with pneumonia. The saddest part was that my brother was away with my son when his spirit crossed the rainbow bridge. But, you know, God has a plan, and if Steve had to make hard decisions for his buddy, that would have broken his heart even more. God made the choice, and Harry, a wonderful companion to my brother died in happiness. Steve buried him in the backyard Harry loved so much, with a cherry tree to shade him. He will forever be part of the Apple Ridge scenery, as my sister, Chris said.
I learned from Harry that animals need no voice to communicate. They can get their point across without knowing how to speak your language. But, alas, they have taught you theirs, which is one of the most beautiful to learn.
Here is my favorite tribute to Harry: