When I was a kid I was afraid of dogs. My only exposure to them included a yippy mutt who chased me on my way home from school every day, a friend's daschund who bit her dad's ear the first week they had it, and the menagerie of pooches housed down the street at the Kinslow's house I feared too much to get to know. (They were actually very nice dogs, I was just a wuss)
I was always a cat person and got my first cat when I was eight after months of helping Doug badger my parents for a kitten. Our second cat came along eight years later when my dad decided Moki needed a friend.
When Ryan and I moved into our first apartment post college we decided to adopt a kitten from the animal shelter. Ryan knew I was a cat lover and an apartment seemed better suited for cat than canine. Thus began the reign of Jeff the Cat.
Melbotis came into the picture 4 months after our wedding and a few weeks after moving to our first house on Briar street. By this time I was no longer afraid of dogs and liked them, but had not a clue how to care for one. He was huge, left carpets of hair in his wake, and needed constant attention. Mel and I got along fine - my answer to his neediness being to either play fetch, take him for a walk, or sit on the front porch while he sunned himself on his back in the yard.
These things seemed to make him happy, but there was something missing. I was not his favorite person. You knew you were Mel's friend when you entered the house and he presented you with a toy and happy squealing.
I never got the squealing.
In April 2002, I got a job in Tempe, AZ and moved to our new city a month ahead of Ryan, Mel, and Jeff. It was during this absence I realized how much I missed my fluffy orange friend. I came home for a weekend visit mid May and got my first ever squeally welcome from Mel. It warmed my heart.
Mel and I became good friends in Arizona. Ryan and I didn't make many people friends and had to rely on each other and our animals for entertainment and comforting. Mel stepped up to the plate. When I needed to get some air he was always up for walkies. When I needed to talk he always had intelligent, attentive eyes and two perky ears for listening. When I needed a hug he made the best teddy bear. And when I was sick he would stay close, not demanding, but placing himself so that his presence brought comfort.
I never thought I would love a dog so much. I never thought it would hurt so much to have him gone.
I love you so, so much, Melly. I hope you had a good life with us and are somewhere where the sun always shines and there are an infinite number of tennis balls to collect. Goodbye my friend, my good boy.