In dog years I’ve been married for 13 decades. If you throw in courtship the wife and I have been together for nearly two centuries.
I’m sure it feels like that to her sometimes. 🙂
But as long as we’ve been together I don’t remember a time when we didn’t have a dog. This is a tale about them.
Mickey was our first pup, and we picked him up at a party some time in the early 90’s. It was a New Year’s party, as I recall. I don’t remember the hosts and, in fact, I don’t think I really knew them. I only remember they had some puppies they were giving away. I also remember some clowns at the party thinking it was funny to let some curious little dog get too close to their cigarettes and I remember asking the owners if I could have that one. When they said yes the future Mrs C and I let those clowns have it for messing with “our dog.” Mickey was with us for the next 13 years.
Mickey was the only true “mutt” we ever had. In 1997, when we got married, we picked up a companion for Mick, a black lab/german shepherd mix we named “King.” Suzie wanted to name him “Hades” because he was black as the night, but I thought that sounded a little too evil. We compromised on “King Hades,” and just always called him King.
We had talked about a companion for Mickey for months and had decided on a black dog because I had loved a black lab a friend of mine owned as a kid. I was working one day when a neighbor across the street from where I was came out and asked me if I knew anybody looking for pups. I asked what kind. Black kinds, he said. I sighed heavily knowing the universe just works that way sometimes. He brought out King. I brought King home.
King passed away five years ago yesterday. That boy made it 14 years in our lives.
The story of Maverick, our first golden retriever, is documented in another post back in March. Maverick came along in 2002 and stayed with us for 11 years. Maverick is the reason I always shop for golden retrievers now when it’s time to get another.
If Maverick is the reason I shop for goldens, then my next dog Moxie is my validation. Moxie came along in 2009 when Maverick was already 7 and King was already 12. Moxie fell asleep on the ride home from the breeder and basically slept through his infancy. I’m not kidding. When we took him down to the vet for his first examination the doctor slid Moxie back and forth across the table trying to get him to wake up. He wouldn’t. We asked the doc, laughing, “is that normal?!” and the doctor cackled back “NO!”
I think Moxie had the benefit of those two very senior brothers during his childhood because he just seemed to learn very quickly how to listen, understand commands, and stay out of trouble. He is also the most food-motivated dog I have ever known. I can remember a time when Maverick was shrinking like crazy in weight and Moxie was ballooning to nearly 100 pounds. We found out why … the little sucker was stealing all of Maverick’s food and Maverick was letting him. Maverick was always more motivated by “play” than “food.”
Speaking of which …
About a year ago, 2 years after Maverick left us, Ludo joined the clan. Ludo, it turns out, means “I play” in Latin and he took that name literally. Food? Sure, if I must. Love? Yeah, I guess, if it doesn’t take too long.
Ludo and his ball are inseparable. Or I should say “balls” because he has about 15 of them to choose from. Let me tell you, though, when he chooses one of them no other will do. Go ahead, pick up a different one and throw it, he’ll watch it in the air and if it isn’t the one he brought you, forget it. I believe that Ludo is the smartest dog I’ve ever had, but he is the most willful one, too. He literally talks back to us when we’re scolding him, with furrowed eyebrows and guttural bark.
Moxie loves him. We do, too. But I believe Ludo is the universe’s way of paying me back for Moxie. 😉
It’s amazing how different they all are.
Thinking about King yesterday on the five-year anniversary of his passing prompted this post; it got me thinking about the pups we’ve had together, the missus and I. He was our second dog and the last dog we owned that wasn’t a golden retriever. We’ll probably go gold again next time, but that story is still another 5 years away.
So there it is, the Cummings line of amazing companions. Each had their virtues and each had their vice. Each had our hearts. If I could have them all here together I wouldn’t hesitate; King would love Ludo as much as Mickey would hate him. Mickey would probably slip through a crack in the fence today and go find something smelly to rub in by the pond. Maverick and Ludo would be chasing balls while King chased a frisbee. Moxie would sneak into the house and eat all their food.
Mrs C and I would be in heaven.
I can’t imagine a life without these dogs. I’d love to hear stories on here about some of your animals, if you have the time to share. I know I’ll be sharing more in the years to come.
In the meantime, have a great day – and go hug something furry.