Wednesday, December 03, 2008

we used to take both dogs out to a wild place, actually it was owned by the university, but it had two ponds, a big path, a lot of open prairie, a few wooded areas, an old civil war graveyard, and basically no fences, so that even when the dogs got wild they would just run on and on forever, into some orchard or something, but then come back, if they had their wits about them at all, because their smellers were pretty good, and that was what it was all about anyway. so, no matter what the weather, and they loved this cold rainy labrador stuff, they would have a great time, then come back to me all panting, jump up in the back of the pickup or wherever, come home, lick themselves all evening and then sleep like dogs. or like dogs should sleep anyway. we called it the dog improvement lands (its true name was tree improvement or some such) but sometimes called it jen-improvement or tom-improvement as a good deal of that would happen too. students would be out there cutting wood or planting trees; sometimes fishermen would be at one of the lakes; often raider, our black lab, would be a little ahead of us on the path and would grab a stick and approach a fisherman or a student with a proposition they could not refuse. raider lived to fetch. he would jump into an icy pond after a stick, or down a steep grade, not thinking, and more than once he got injured and barely knew it because he'd been fetching. if he found someone who would throw the stick he would never let up; he'd keep bringing it, and would have to be dragged away from his favorite game; didn't matter if it was a tiny stick, or a big old log. he was also known for being entirely tolerant, especially with various cats that thought he was their mom, or with young children who wanted to see what they could get away with; he was in general very controlled in his responses but would often yelp or let them know somehow that they couldn't keep hurting him. yet he'd never hurt them.

a loyal companion, named after california football, a handsome free spirit, jet black, all labrador, all retriever, i knew him by several nicknames- the nu-nu, for the way he vacuumed up food scraps, or the orb detection and retrieval specialist; or x-q-j the scrabble king, or triple-word-score for the same reason, his endless scrabbling on the wooden floor. often i mention him in my classes, to my students, when i teach about "retrieved" phrases, which one puts on a reference, to say, i went and got this, and brought it back, i fetched it. and i think about him when i upload web pages with the "fetch" program, and have to wait patiently. but in this case god had the last retrieved phrase, did the last uploading. raider was retrieved on monday, december 1, 2008. i don't have a picture of him, so i'll keep the one i've got in my mind: out by the wild grasses, at the edge of the pond, stick in his mouth- unlike his partner, lindy, he didn't see the point in running away, out over the orchards, if there was any chance he could get whoever he was with to throw a stick. as much as possible, as soon as possible, wherever possible. i'll miss him, so i'll write this for him: i'll go back out there, raider, i promise; i'll grab another stick, and i'll just heave it your way.

2 Comments:

Blogger J-Funk said...

What a sweet memorial to a very sweet dog! That brought tears to my eyes. You guys are having a hard year! I hope the new kitten helps to bring new beginnings.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Schmendric said...

awww, Raider too? end of an era. i'll miss those puppies, and the house will be relatively quiet, but J-funk's right, at least punkie's around to shake things up.

10:21 PM  

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