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  • jrblackburnsmith


Red likes to sleep under my writing desk. He spends way more time there than I do. Truthfully, the desk is a space of refuge for both of us, Red just luxuriates in it ten or twelve times longer every day than I do. He's here every time I write, sometimes so comfortably situated that I am sitting at arm's length from my laptop, barely able to reach the keys. If I ask Red to move, he gives me the most disgusted look, as if to say "You're writing won't get better if you sit closer to the screen." I'm sure he's correct.

As near as I can tell, Red is fifteen or sixteen years old. He has lived with Denise and I for 9 years, and my parents had him for six years before they moved to an apartment, and we took him. He came from a shelter, so we don't know how old he was when they got him, but I'd guess around a year.

My dad dealt with dementia the last several years of his life, and a host of other issues, that kept him at home most of the time. On the days he was feeling well, however, he would jump into his Explorer and disappear for the day, frequently coming home with something he wanted, but didn't need, like a new computer. One of those days he came home with Red. My parents hadn't discussed getting a new dog, so Red was a surprise to everyone!

After they adopted Red, whenever Dad felt good enough to drive, Red rode next to him. They both loved McDonalds, and Dad never went through the drive through without getting something for Red. The dog became the excuse for going to McDonalds which suited both of them. They were inseparable, until Mom and Dad had to move out of their old country home. It was a hard move for Dad, made worse by giving up his buddy.

For years, Red ruled their roost. He loved to chase deer (and cows, which wasn't appreciated by their neighbors) and it wasn't unusually for Red to disappear for a day or two and come home mud covered and happy. These days when he sees a deer in our yard, he doesn't even bark at it, and he's certainly not going to try to chase it away. The deer seem to know this, so even when Red is outside, they don't stay away.

He sleeps so deeply that at least once every couple of weeks I'm afraid he has passed on. I worry about that moment. Dad has been gone since 2016 and Red is a wonderful connection to him. It's always hard to lose a dog, but when it happens this one will hurt more than most because it really will be a double loss and there is nothing I can do about it. And there is really nothing I want to do about it, because the connection is too important and will be worth the sorrow when it's gone.

It's raining here, in case you couldn't tell.

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