In all of my 35 years, one pet I never owned was a dog. Growing up, my sister and I were the caregivers of no more than three hamsters and two beta fish – not necessarily in that order, of course. But no dogs. Yet when my sister moved out, she chose to adopt two dogs – a Yorkie/Fox Terrier mix named Lucky and Mylo, the butterfly-eared Papillon who she rescued from a local shelter dog - who wasted absolutely no time in melting her heart and, in time, mine as well. The three of them have been staying with us for the last few weeks, and while I am thankful not to be responsible for Mylo and Lucky’s overall care, I won’t lie that I’m not indulging in their unconditional love and companionship. There is nothing more rewarding after a long day at work than to come through the door and have those two rascals come bounding at me with their adorable doggie grins as if to scream, “You’re home!” And there’s nothing more adorable than having Mylo flop over onto his back – wherever he is in the house, whether it’s my bedroom or the middle of the kitchen – and silently demand a belly rub.
This newfound experience with canine companionship is what caused me to pluck the book Good Dog. Stay. by Anna Quindlen off the library shelf. While the book itself isn’t new – it was published in 2007 – the theme of how dogs can positively impact one’s life remains timeless and will resonate with any dog owner or dog lover, in my case. Peppered with black and white photographs of an adorable menagerie of dogs – including her own – Good Dog. Stay. pays tribute to the life of Quindlen’s cherished Black Lab, Beau, who was part of the Quindlen family until two days before his fifteenth birthday. The book itself is a quick read at only 82 pages long, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in content: Quindlen fills the pages with admiration, love, and respect for Beau, and with humor as well, sharing personal stories and anecdotes about Beau and how his life intertwined with that of her family, reinforcing the lessons she’s learned from him – like learning to roll with the punches, taking things in life as they come, and to live in the present. The part I got the biggest laugh out of was when Quindlen reminisces of Beau: “There came a time when a scrap thrown in his direction usually bounced unseen off his head. Yet put a pork roast in the oven, and the guy still breathed as audibly as an obscene caller.”
“The life of a good dog is like the life of a good person, only shorter and more compressed.”
In the case of Beau, truer words were never written.