World’s best dog

When I met Janice, she had a dog and a son—a family kit, and a lot to get used to. I’d met her and Jai, her son, together but I didn’t know about Spock, the dog, until I went to her house after work the week after our first date. Spock was uncharacteristically tethered because he had recently been busted by The Man for running loose. He growled at me. I let him smell me, and then I stroked him and massaged his shoulders. We were friends, although that was before he knew I was joining the pack.

Spock was thoroughly good-natured and always thought the best of those around him, giving the benefit of the doubt to everyone who deserved it. He was also not used to taking orders, requests being all he’d had to deal with. Then I come along, not looking for trouble, but the dog had to answer to me. It made perfect sense at the time, probably speciesism. I started going along on his walks that day, and me in bicycle cleats. I was way in love.

We shared Spock-walking until Janice fell on the ice while pregnant, and after that it was mostly me. Spock had been trained well by the friend who had had him his first year, and he had better manners than your dog. He never spoke out of turn without good reason and would sooner pee on the carpet than paw someone without being invited, and Spock never peed on the carpet. He sat and shook hands and heeled, for starters, although he didn’t have to. We wouldn’t have insisted; he was only too happy to oblige.

Spock ran loose at night, like Bat-Dog or some shit. Every night she’d let him out, and he’d show up at the back door the next morning. I was shocked. I did not approve of dogs running loose. She was aware of the risks and did it anyway. I liked that. Once I found him three days later five miles north, and another time I bailed him out of the pound.

Sometimes he’d come home bloody and limping. I think his unmutilated genitalia made him smell like trouble to the ones who didn’t get away. I carried a lead pipe on walks after Big Dog got at him in Wirth Park. That was one of the risks.

Twelve years later after his hips gave out along with some more things inside I had to man up and carry the best dog in the world on an old comforter to a stainless steel table three miles away, and I held his head when he died. It’s the only time I cried about somebody else’s dog.