Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Thankful for First Dog, Lil

From my article in Chapel Hill News about the passing of our Lil (the yellow Labrador retriever in the pic):

Like a first kiss, one’s first dog is something you never forget.
Lil was my first dog, and I will never forget her. Fourteen years ago I adopted her through Orange County Animal Services. Lil was a beautiful yellow American Labrador Retriever, with the breed’s distinct markings, bone structure, and huge paws, which told us we should not be surprised when she hit 80 pounds when fully grown.
When we first visited her at the shelter, she jumped all over us, licking us everywhere on our bodies, from head to toe and back again.
“Lil” was short for “Little Doc,” as I promised myself I would adopt a dog upon my completion of my Ph.D. But sometimes she resembled Lilith, the notorious demon in Jewish tradition. For example, when throwing her a branch to retrieve, she wasn’t as much “retriever” as she was a keep-away artist, inviting us to run after her while almost kneeing us as she ran by us. She loved chewing anything that looked like a stick, including red or black pens, grinning with either a red or back smudge across her muzzle.
Lil was like other dogs in many ways. She was my running bud, running slightly ahead of me along country roads. She loved nothing more than to go for a ride in a car, putting her snout out the open back window, ears flapping backwards, while taking advantage of all the smells that came along the currents of air. One friend taught Lil the art of eating pretzel sticks from her mouth as Lil gently nibbled the other end. However, unlike some Labs, she was not wild about water. She was intimidated by ocean waves, and Lil seemed too prim and proper to be washed, looking put out when we hosed off the soap.
Lil was a steady presence amid all the radical changes in my family’s life. She would let me pet her thick yellow fur as I transitioned out of one academic position, to a pastorate, and back to the academy again. When in high school, my daughter told her deepest secrets to Lil late at night. My partner and son swear there was nothing like coming home after a hard day and being welcomed by Lil’s “welcome home” bark as she soon brushed hard against a leg, waiting for someone to rub the sweet spots behind her ears, eliciting an ongoing low, satisfying moan from her, telling us to rub harder.

More here:

Pax! B

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