Late in the summer of 1990, our sons arrived at our house with a big surprise, a four-week-old golden retriever. As our youngest son carried it through the doorway, little did we know the impact this beautiful bundle of energy would have on our lives. We all watched and laughed as he began to explore his new surroundings, running, stumbling and sliding across the linoleum. It was love at first sight. What shall we call him? As we began to think of clever names, our oldest son said simply, “Pal”.
It was an inspired gesture to bring Pal into our lives. Soon to be “empty nesters”, maybe our sons instinctively realized we needed something dramatic to help refocus our attention. Whatever the reasons, we now had a puppy. Or, maybe more accurately, the puppy had us.
We introduced him to the neighborhood and our friends. His enthusiasm and playfulness was contagious, sometimes embarrassing, and sparked happy conversations.
Though my wife and I often walked him together, I found it very enjoyable to walk with Pal alone. To me these were his walks not mine. When he wanted to stop, explore and sniff, I stopped. When he was done sniffling, we continued. Maybe Pal was walking me.
I watched him chase rabbits and I marveled at his speed and cutting ability. He never caught a rabbit, so why did he think each time that this was going to be his day?
Thunderstorms frightened him. My wife would curl up next to him in his bed, put her arm on him and talk softly. Even after thirteen years of surviving thunderstorms, he still seemed to think that this was the one that was going to get him. I always wondered, why?
We spent a lot of time together and had many one-sided conversations. I found myself wondering what he thought about. Did he like it where he was? Did he know where he was? What did he know? Was he happy? Did he enjoy parties and holidays? He must have known when I was having a bad day, because those were the times he was the most affectionate.
I do art work and have been making cards since I was sixteen. I draw them one at a time and try to make them specific to the recipient - or at the very least - try to theme the cards to yearly events in hopes they’ll bring enjoyment when opened.
For several years, Pal was my spokesman. I tried to guess how he would view life’s celebrations, joys, disappointments, triumphs and tragedies. Friends who received my cards began to comment that Pal seemed always to find a way to make them smile or laugh no matter what the occasion. Pal’s final card, bidding us all goodbye, was sent to more than one-hundred people on my list. Many of them wrote to tell me how much they would miss hearing Pal’s views on life’s little ironies.
Pal is still with me. Some of the thoughts, I think he thought, make me laugh. I hope they make you laugh too.