Orson, more than a friend
Joan Girdler Good
You asked for nothing, yet gave so much. Never would you discriminate against others or make insincere political statements, nor would you incite war and exhibit greed.
You would not sideline those who have different beliefs or who are physically challenged. You gave nothing, but love, gratitude and patience.
I miss those big brown eyes looking at me with such trust and adoration; our conversations of grunts and other sounds which were known only to us. You seemed to read my mind, anticipating my every move and my trying to return the favor by reading you. I cannot imagine being thrown into a country, not speaking the language, but being punished when I couldn’t understand. We went by reward, you and I discovering our magical relationship of mutual respect.
You would protect me with your very life and on two occasions you demonstrated you were up to the task. My dear friend, you read intent better than any human could possibly dream.
My heart is ripped and a part of it has gone with you, but you gave me so much more in return and for that my heart is much fuller. Your patient love and wonderful intelligence of things not understood by humans, yet not less important, will be forever with me.
Goodbye, Orson. Thank you for the hikes, swims, conversations and most of all your unwavering love. You blessed me, but I don’t know what I did to have been blessed with you as my friend. Darn lucky, I guess.
Sometimes I thought you were a seal rather than a German shepherd. You jumped into any water situation you could find and this included sprinklers. Swimming after tossed sticks was a great favorite; however, you refused to bring them back, but loving to tease me or another dog by racing closely by, stick dangling, ears laid back daring anything to take it away. I think it was your way of emphasizing your being a German shepherd and not a retriever. You have raced down ocean beaches to snatch a Frisbee from an unsuspecting victim. I would finally return it after tricking you with a “bait and switch.” This also has happened with father-and-son baseball tosses.
The dog beach on the ocean was a real treat for both of us. There were at least 50 dogs, all off leash, having the time of their lives. You were the undisputed leader and would plunge into the ocean. None would follow, including the retrievers. One could almost hear you laughing over your victories. Out of the water you would come, ears flat and happily doing your puppy prance. At the time you were 8 years old and had attracted several two-legged spectators who were quite amused by your antics. You really loved the ocean and would become quite wild with the happiness of it all. I’m so glad we could give you these opportunities.
Crossing the United States with you was a pleasure. We gave you frequent stops for which you never asked, but we thought necessary for your well-being. Never complaining, but always accommodating. Your signal to stop was to sit up. That was the limit of your drama. I remember your fascination with an armadillo and your following a little too closely. Your attraction to this creature was stopped by its turning and bellowing a grand hiss.
Your first time in the snow was most exciting for you. You ate it, rolled in it, dug holes, attacked it and finally napped on it. Soft snowballs were your delight.
Your sister Gaby was your rough playmate. Growling, looking and sounding ferocious you two would engage in stalking each other, taking off on a chase only to be rewarded with treats when you came back. We finally saw we were being outsmarted.
Two years ago when I was quite ill, you stayed nearby and would check on me several times a day. Your reassuring licks, concerned eyes and little sounds let me know how much you cared.
On a camping trip, you snuggled up close to me and then while doing your morning yoga stretch, put both feet through the side of the tent!
How have I deserved such a wonderful friend? This question is very humbling for I had the best mentor of kindness, nonjudgment and unconditional love.
Thank you to Dr. Nolet of Pine Creek Veterinary Clinic for being who you are and your wonderful staff.
Joan Girdler Good lives in Nevada City.
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