To Mitch on his 11th birthday

I love you because you hate the
leash, and resist being pulled by collar
or harness. It offends your sense of
dignity. “Hello, do you think I am a dog?”
you seem to be saying to me.

I love how you don’t run much, preferring rather
to amble and ramble like a retiree at leisure or
like your hero “Ferdinand the Bull,” smelling all
the flowers, because that’s what you do, without
agenda, schedule, goals, quota, or guilt. Your
canine credo: “Why hurry?”

I love your equanimity, so rare among
Schechters, taking life as it comes, yawning
as I voice my 15th complaint of the day (and
It’s only 9 am), as if to say, “Relax, it will all
work out, Bill. We’ve talked about this. Avoid
the highs and lows. Watch the blood pressure!”

I love your white paws, which a Chinese woman
In the dog park told me, translating from the
Chinese, meant that you “were walking through
the snow in search of plum blossoms.” Very slowly,
no doubt.

I love how you love food, a foodie before there
were even foodies like Ethan & Leakhena.
Such an omnivore, it’s all good: dog food,
veggies, chicken, you-name-it, etc., etc. What a
faithful dining partner you have become, after
training me well with a few wags of the tail.

I love how silent you are, quiet as eternity. Even your
days of occasional growling at annoying dogs have
past, only an occasional bark now to tell us you’re ready
to come inside or if I fail to take the hint with your
unbridled passion - pulled pork. Are you actually one of
those Chinese mystics who believes that those who say
don’t know and those who know don’t say? I think so.

I love the fact you are a water dog who hates the
water, even the rain. That makes me laugh. I can hear
you now: “Don’t laugh, Bill, and stop the stereotyping
please. I may be a lab, but we are not all the same.”
How fastidious you are and how much you enjoy being
toweled off even if it’s barely sprinkling outside.

I love how you can sleep, while I struggle every night.
Actually, I hate you for it, but with admiration. In only a
a few seconds, your snores rise like thick smoke from a
campfire, and you are out and down for the count. A
noise? Your eyes open. But then they close just like
that. I struggle for my splintered six. You go for your
solid 10 or 12. You bastard.

I love how at Larz Anderson Park with its vast lawns, you
will get actively happy for a moment, and canter down the slopes
like a pup with your tail straight up and your hind quarters
floating as if attached to a helium balloon. But I do have a question:
what point are you making by usually walking parallel to me
30 feet away?

I love how you never forget. Not when it’s time for your Milkbone.
Not when it’s time for your walk. Not when it’s time for your dinner
(which you now consider an appetizer) at 4 pm. You rarely let me
get past 4:04. You even remember that at Larz you get a special
treat, and will wait up the slope ‘til you see me open the car trunk.
I love how you don’t thank me for cleaning up your poop, and just
move on once you are done like nothing happened. I guess you are
saying: “Bill, I don’t thank people for doing what’s expected. We both
have jobs. Just do your job.”

And for good measure, I love how you will stare at me to get your point
across (“Bill, it‘s not that complicated: walk, feed, clean up after me. It's
time for a walk, ok?”) - I love how you love to drink out of ponds and streams
as if the water were the finest champagne - I love how you walk past the terrified
geese with zero interest in them - I love how happy you are with so little - how
gentle you are with kids - how you feel every picnic blanket spread in the park
is a personal invitation to you - how patiently you put up with the shenanigans of
your scamp-ish brother Bear even when he humps you.

Happy birthday, my friend, companion, and spiritual adviser.
Mitch, you are such a mentsch.

I love that we share a birthday together.

 September 30, 2017

All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
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