*(I started this after I learned of Andy passing, sometime in November 2009, but had not finished it. My friend Marcus just lost his dog Comet and that is why I finally finished this. Marcus, I am sorry for your loss. This is for both of our friends)
It was Christmas day, 1996. My mother, grandparents and I made the hour-long drive to my Aunt Sharon’s home in St. Petersburg, Fl. I always enjoy visiting her house, especially on special holidays; she’s a great cook. This particular Christmas turned out to even more special than usual.
When I was a child, my mom and I seemed to have a different dog every week. It was a running joke in the family. They always wanted to know what the “dog of the month” was. My mother has a big heart and when she came across a stray animal at work (she was a police officer at the time), she simply could not leave it behind; not that I ever complained. I love animals and though I was never very good at taking care of them, per se, I was always excited when we had a new “guest” in the house. The high turnover of dogs continued over the years, but on that Christmas day in 1996, the cycle was ended.
I had clamoured for a new dog for a while leading up to that day. I used all of my old favorites like, “I promise to take care of it!,” “There’s nothing I want more,” “If I only had a dog, things would be perfect, etc” (she had heard them all before, a hundred times over). I had a new angle to add to the mix though. Mom had recently retired from the police force due to a back injury and I figured it would be nice for her to have a dog to look after, a project sorts. She wasn’t totally sold, but I knew she was a softy and we started looking at the classifieds just for giggles. I wanted a ‘Boxer,’ but seeing that this was “for my mom,” we nixed that idea and looked for smaller breads. Eventually we came upon an ad for ‘Australian Shepherd’ puppies.
Before I knew it, my cousin Valerie and I were in the truck driving to Clearwater for a closer look. I can’t recall much about the people selling the puppies, but I remember the two dogs very clearly. One, the female, had light colors, was very active and playful. The other, a male, was more laid back. Had it been for me, I may very well have chosen the female, but as fate would have it (Valerie may have had a hand in it as well), I chose the male and never looked back.
I think mom was hooked at first sight. He was a little ball of fur and I remember us giving him a bath in my Aunt and Uncle’s sink in the garage. Everyone was smiling; it was a happy day. It was a happy thirteen years.
Baby Andy passed away recently. I love him and miss him very much. You couldn’t have asked for a better dog…a better companion. Andy was part of the family; the centerpiece, actually. He and mom spent a lot of time together over the years (another running joke within the family) and I know she is more hurt than everyone combined, but he was truly loved by all he came in contact with. I try not to think about him often, cause I always get upset. Some people have told me that he “is in a better place,” and while I know they mean well, I can’t help but think there was no better place for him than right here, with us.
Baby Andy, this is for you. You will be missed always…