A Life at 36,000 Feet
As I’m writing this, we’re flying from Orlando to Detroit. Probably somewhere over Tennessee or Kentucky. Hotness is next to the window snoozing, I’m in an aisle seat. Garrett is napping on the floor between us. He has no idea that he’ll be taking just one more flight before retirement.
Although Garrett is my Seeing Eye dog, he’s not just mine. After all, he’s been living in our home for six years with my wife, kids and at least one other dog. One reason people love dogs so much is because they provide a relationship. Garrett’s primary relationship is with me, but he definitely loves my family, too. Many people know that if Hotness is at a speaking engagement with me, she has to stay in the back of the room and not make eye contact with Garrett. He has, more than once, decided he’d rather go to her than lay next to me on stage.
A few months before I received Garrett, my youngest stepdaughter, Maddison, brought home a toy schnoodle, Smooches. Smooch is only about 11 pounds, but she rules the roost. Garrett doesn’t mind at all because he’s very Beta. If he gets too worked up and excited or plays too loud, Smooch will let loose with a stream of punitive barks. Garrett pretty much just shrugs his shoulders and says, “Okay, whatever.” Then, three years ago, my oldest stepdaughter brought her boarder collie, Ax, into our home.
Garrett, Smooches and Ax
The Three Amigos
We have a Sunday morning ritual
when we are home of driving thru Starbucks and taking all three dogs along.
I’m not sure who loves this more – the Hotness or the dogs –
but we all look forward to it.
Ax is an incredibly smart dog, but he’s also a collie, so he’s kinda high strung. He barks more than the other dogs, he is more protective and loves to just go, go, go. Garrett and Ax have become best buds and retiring G pulls at my heartstrings for Ax. I know Garrett is really adaptable and that he’ll be buds with Jenny’s dogs. I don’t worry much in that capacity. But with Ax? I’m not sure what he’ll do when we return home next week without Garrett.
In our family, we try to have Sunday night family dinner each week. It doesn’t always happen, but we try to make it as regularly as possible. Last night after dinner, our kids and grandkid and Smooch and Ax and Garrett all went outside. While we sat around and talked, we shared our first memories and impressions of Garrett…as well as what we’ll miss about him. Several family members said they would miss his sneakiness. Garrett is, after all, a ninja dog. Jordan brought up how Garrett figured out early on that I am blind…and that if he stands really, really still, I can’t find him. Alexis remembered how she would get Garrett so riled up and excited that he would literally hop. Yes, hop in place. Maddison and Marvelyne recalled the time when Mason (grandson) was only about three and was playing ring around the rosey with a gingerbread man. Right before ashes ashes, Garrett swooped in and, in a flash, bit off the head of the gingerbread man. Mason kept saying, “He ate my friend!”
These stories caused me to smile and to cry; sometimes in the same moment. Garrett has been such a member of our family for so long that his absence is going to leave a big, big open space. As with any loss, we don’t try to replace him…we just help fill in that hole with memories of the gift of presence Garrett has been in our lives.