Life with Fido

Nature had taken its course on Jackie’s sister’s Neosho County family farm. There was one pup left from the litter of their two Australian Shepherds, Hank and Emmie.

Jackie’s sister’s family knew this pup was special. And they knew Jackie. In the spring of 1999, we’d only been married about four months and my wife was eager to get a dog.

I was lukewarm and my tepid arguments were rapidly losing steam.

One look at the size of this pup’s paws and lamely offered, “This dog is gonna be friggin’ huge.”

"Hi! Can I be your dog?"

On the farm it’s SOP to dock the tails of newborn Aussie pups. “Who wants a dog without a tail?” Jackie’s brother-in-law was a step ahead of me. He’d throw in the docked tail for good measure.

Hank was no shrinking violet, as dogs go. Between his progeny’s paws and genetics, I knew we’d be bringing home a dog that would eventually grow to the size of a small pony.

A lotta dog food. A lotta doggie doodoo.

With bright eyes, a wagging stump and what I would later come to appreciate as an especially-endearing canine confidence, this three-month old pup bounded right up to me that day as if to say, “Hi! Can I be your dog?”

Jackie let me suggest a name. There was really never any other consideration.

Fido.

Chalk it up to my penchant for life as a cliché.

The cliché turned out to be apropos. We soon learned Fido loved everything dogs are supposed to love: red meat, fetching sticks, barking at cats. It wasn’t long before the mere mention of the word, “kitty” would send him into Doggie Barking Apoplexy (my caps.)

I was able to adapt Fido’s talent to impress and amaze friends.

“Who’s your favorite rapper? Busta Rhymes or… P.

Diddy

?”

BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK

“Which HBO series do you prefer, Deadwood or… Sex in the

City

?”

BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK

“Who had bigger

cojones

during Watergate? Howard Hunt or… G. Gordon

Liddy

?”

BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK

Fido knew Liddy had the stones.

While he wasn’t too crazy about cats, Fido loved other dogs. He held a special place in his heart for Jackie’s sister and her two kids (his first people).

He loved me… and he adored Jackie.

Fido impacted my wife in a deep and meaningful way.

There comes a time in marriage, I soon grew to realize, when one partner’s innate passion and enthusiasm simply overwhelms the other’s lukewarmness (lukewarmnicity?) For all the right reasons. Within days of Life with Fido, I remarked to her, “Had I known you had this much love for dogs, we’d have gotten one months ago.”

Fido died Thursday.

After a year of

deteriorating health

.

You can say it’s a blessing. And it is. He’d have had a helluva time maneuvering another Kansas winter.

But justification, rationalization and inevitability don’t take away the sadness.

I was lukewarm.

But Fido won me over.