It must have been the homework


My dog died.

Like a Honda, there was nothing terribly dramatic in his passing. He just slowed down and then he was gone.

Axl was an English Bulldog. He was my dog, but over his nine year life he became everyone’s dog. Half-way through his brief visit to earth, he moved in with my oldest son and another dog of uncertain origin named Haggis. I’d moved onto a sailboat and the companionway stairs were just too much for Axl’s short legs and heavy head.

And so he moved to palatial digs with a loving new master, a reluctant lab-whatever-cross companion and the doggie-door he loved to show off to visitors.

What can I say about Axl?

That he encouraged my youngest daughters to become the inspired and inspiring people they are today? Yeah, a little of that. He taught us all to be stubborn in defending what we believe in, even if it’s only the last piece of beef jerky.  We learned that anyone can achieve anything despite a massive under-bite. At least they can try.

Axl could light up a room just by walking into it. Especially if there was a candle burning nearby.

Most of all, he played soccer with more balls than Beckham. He was really good. Sam and Travis and I would try to kick the ball forty feet between us without letting Axl steal it. We rarely won, and once he got the ball, he had all the moves he needed to prevent us from getting it back.

Like every dog ever born, Axl was the best dog that ever lived. As dogs do, he constantly reminded us that everything is perfect.

A hailstorm midway through a long walk? Perfect.

The mutt down the street bit my balls out of envy? Perfect.

Axl never complained. He’d occasionally disagree by showing us his bum as he looked out the window and farted. In the end, he tried to walk off death, pacing endlessly, pausing only to eat or stare at a table leg while we waited and watched for a miracle that we knew deep down would never come.

After interminable days of ‘quality of life’ discussions, the time came to say goodbye.

On a Friday filled with tears in February.

I think of Axl channelling  the words of Chief Dan George in ‘Little Big Man.’ In the wake of a wonderful life and a lot of love, it was ‘a good day to die.’

10 years ago