“My dog died.”
Those are three of the saddest words I know. I have been right in the middle of them for four days and counting.
Last Thursday afternoon, break time: Yay! Dodger and I left my office at 3:36 to go check the mail, but first a quick round of campus “squirrelveillance,” par for a Thursday. I clicked on his trusty red leash and hopped on my trusty red bike, just like hundreds of times. Across Main Street, we rounded the corner of Cunningham by Carnegie—no cops, yay! *Click* He arced right by Phi Hall and the Old Well, I arced left over the D Road bricks in front of Chambers. As our trajectories began to reconverge on the far side of campus by Sloan, we gained speed, more than usual even, since we’d been cooped up a couple of days and it was brisk out. We must have been approaching his top recorded speed of 32 miles per hour, timed by ’67 Comet on the lake campus dirt road just last summer. This day, traction control on the curving bricks made it advisable for me to suspend my self-imposed prohibition against riding my bike on the grass. Reunited now side by side in a straight line, we just flat hauled ass across Chambers Lawn, churning and laughing and flapping in a cold wind, yay! Twenty seconds farther on, that happy dog, a dirty no-good squirrel and a small but fatal outcropping in a brick wall conspired for a mercifully brief end to Dodger’s time on earth. He broke his neck, probably never knew it, and my dog died in my arms.
But first, he lived, and boy, did he ever.
Dodger’s aplomb even rated an obit in the local online newspaper, DavidsonNews.net.
His exploits are well-documented in the “Search: Dodger” functionality of this blog.
Of particular note are his young adult years as a travel co-writer in the Great Summer Road Trip of 2009.
[Updated Tues., 1/29/13: WDAV will be running a day sponsorship in memory of Dodger tomorrow at 8:30am and 1:30pm, and featuring a pix of him on their homepage then www.wdav.org. Thanks, classical music friends!]
What’s been most striking to me just in the four days since his death, when I’ve been able to perceive anything at all outside my own black grief, is the touch he brought to so many lives on the Davidson campus, at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Mooresville, in the town of Davidson and in Charlotte, across this nation. I’ve had calls from Maine to Miami to Vegas, fielded e-mails from all over, watched Facebook explode with heartfelt love, all of it for Dodger and for many good dogs who’ve gone on ahead of him, and for the people who’ve loved them.
In the course of any given week these last five years, it has not been unusual for students, or even faculty or fellow staff to introduce themselves to me by saying, “You don’t know me, but I love your dog.”
Oh, no. If you loved my dog, I know you, and I love you, too.