Today is a bit sad. Early this morning, I lost one of my best friends. He sat next to me in absolute, understanding silence the day my first wife left me. He watched TV into the wee hours of the morning with me on the nights I had insomnia. He met my lovely wife, and had to approve of her before I could let her in my house. He stayed by my side, day in and day out, even when I was a jerk to everyone around me, for twelve years nearly to the day.
I didn’t adopt him. He adopted me. December 31, 1999. I was moving out of some rickety old apartments in the bitter cold. A big snow storm had just blown through, and the air outside was absolutely brutal. I had been toting boxes from the apartment to the car, up the long, icy sidewalk in a series of what felt like endless loops. In one of those loops, I stepped into the apartment, grabbed another box, and opened the door, bracing myself for the cold December wind. When I opened the door, there was this beautiful brown dog sitting at the door. He didn’t bolt in to get warm. He didn’t run away. He lowered his head and talked as only he could, a series of mumbles and whines that I immediately understood.
“Please sir… may I come in and get warm? I’ll only be a minute or two.”
My heart melted. How could anyone say no to such a polite request? I put down the boxes, brought him in and helped him warm up. He was whimpering and shivering to the bone. No collar. No tag. No identification. And obviously, no home. After he had a nibble and a drink, I decided that I would put up posters around the complex the next day. I had to be out of the apartment in 24 hours, but surely someone would claim a dog as handsome and well-behaved as this one. Despite his frequent talking, I couldn’t decipher his name, so I called him Moses. He came out of the wilderness, a wanderer. I hoped that he would find the name as much of a tribute as I had expected.
And that’s what I did. I put up signs all over, complete with photo and phone number. I expected that he would be claimed in short order, but none came. After two weeks, I extended the postings beyond the apartment complex, putting signs in the nearby gas stations where people were sure to stop and get gas and their morning coffees. During that time, he was a complete gentleman. He would respect the rules of the house, and not once made a mess, aside from the occasional stray hair. But who can keep track of every single hair? Especially if you have so many.
After several years, he became part of the family. Sure, he had to be taught about the “no barking after midnight” rule. I mean, we all have to learn that rule, right? But generally speaking, he was always ready to just walk up beside you and sit there, or tell you about how great the day was going to be. The only time he was shy on words was when he knew that silence was the better choice to express his friendship. Otherwise, he would talk your leg off. Not bark, mind you. Talk. It was different. Like a combination between growl, whine, and … get me another treat already.
When my first wife left me, I was broken. I didn’t curl up on the floor and wish for the world to end. But I was suddenly all alone. Well, except for the little brown ball of fur that would jump up on the bed, lean his shoulder against mine and let a small, consoling sigh. He was just good like that. Never saying more than was necessary.
Then Cheryl came into the picture. I hate to admit it, but I ignored Moses at times. I flew off to parts unknown just to visit with this fascinating woman. But no bother. He was still there, eager to see me when I got home, not once holding any grudges against me for the way that I had easily shoved him aside.
And when Cheryl came to Oklahoma to visit, he had to sniff her out to make sure that she was appropriate for his friend. Moses didn’t take long, though. Within seconds, he nodded and huffed as he flopped down at her feet. Yep. She was a keeper.
Seven years later, I can say that his instinct couldn’t have been more accurate. She is still the light of my life, and his resounding approval of her showed that he was a true friend — willing to take a slightly less role so that I could find the one that made me truly happy. But that’s just who he was — never seeking the limelight or the praise, but always there for you backing you up and reminding you that life was a pleasant place to be if you just stopped focusing on the negatives and enjoyed what you had in that little moment.
Moses, my dear friend. I cannot even begin to tell you how much you will be missed. You were a blessing to me, and I will remember you for many, many years to come. I thank God that you were in my life through all that I’ve been through.