His favorite hangout was the park. His addiction was chasing balls. We bought a ball thrower, two, several. They're still in the garage. Along with his old leash, any number of ragged balls. His bed. The devastation of an empty collar.
"He's a dog. He belongs outside." Those were the first well-meaning words of advice we received, and we followed them to the letter. He slept outside and came indoors only for food. He could tell time. The screen door would bang once to announce that it was five o' clock.
He never barked. We wondered if his vocal cords had been removed, and one night, a week later, he decided he didn't like the local possum. He had a confident bark, full-throated, loud. We couldn't get back to sleep. We worried about the neighbors. He came indoors. He made peace with the possum.
He claimed the couch behind my desk. My kid helped herself to the other half of it. Sometimes they made room for me.
The neighbors adored him, as did the people who ran the kennel where he stayed when we were away. Random dog owners walking their charges in the park; fearless toddlers running anxious parents. He had a special way of approaching people, never straight on, never hurried, rarely walking up to little kids. He took his time, and came at strangers a little sideways, lowering his head as he walked. His ears would soften even more. His tail never stopped moving. He looked up at them, brown eyes, soft, wise, and as quickly he looked away. He stayed while he was being petted and didn't wander off, content to sit and quietly mediate the conversation.