A Note to St. Francis
by Rick Maynard
on Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 3:53pm
Dear St. Francis:
You've probably noticed there's a new dog in heaven tonight. His name is Junior and he's been my best friend for 16 years. I'm entrusting him to your care for a while, so I thought I'd write you this note.
First, I know he's kind of a unique-looking dog. He looks a little like a Golden Retriever that someone shrunk because they left him in the dryer too long. The Humane Society folks told us he was half Golden and half Dachshund. You might think he's funny looking, but trust me, he grows on you. We think he's beautiful and you will too.
He gets along with everyone -- people and dogs both. When we first got Junior, his big sister Chelsea actively tried to eat him for the first several weeks. She was a much bigger dog and she could seem pretty mean, but Junior never bought into her act. He just kept coming back day after day, ignoring the growling and the snapping, until eventually she realized he wasn't going anywhere. They soon became best friends, and I'm glad they're together again.
His name is Junior, but his friends called him Hoonie. My cousin started calling him that many, many years ago and it stuck. So when you introduce yourself, call him Hoonie. That way he'll know he's among friends.
I know time doesn't have as much importance up there as it does here, but you can go ahead and throw your watch away. Hoonie's internal timing system is more accurate that a Rolex. At 9 p.m. on the dot, he'll come and remind you it is time for his late dinner. He'll do this by staring intently at you, whining softly and -- if you ignore him-- he'll bonk the heck out of you with his nose. Hoonie has mastered the art of the attention-getting bonk.
He likes to wipe his face on the rug after he eats and he loves to run down the hallway to celebrate the conclusion of another tasty meal. He loves having his belly rubbed and he doesn't like his feet messed with. He likes to sleep on the tile in the bathroom because it's cool, so if you need to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, pick another one. We tried to never disturb him while he was sleeping.
Also, if you have a way to get in touch with those college students that gave up the world's most perfect dog all those years ago, give them a message for me. I can't remember their names, but they gave up Junior because they were going on spring break and they didn't have a dogsitter. I told them I'd take him and, while I couldn't keep him, I'd find a good home for him. They didn't care. Of course, I did find a good home for him -- mine. And while I used to be angry at those kids who were so willing to give up this great dog, I now realize I owe them a huge debt of gratitude. They played matchmaker for me and my best friend. So, to them, I say thank you.
That first night that Gina and I picked up Junior, we drove to Transylvania University and his owners met us on the sidewalk. He was unleashed and the traffic was flying by just a few feet away. I scolded them and asked them where his leash was. They handed over a small plastic bag with a worn leash, a squeaky toy and a handful of dog treats. Not much of a going-away present for the dog they gave up.
I put the leash on Junior and told them I'd let them know where he ended up. They didn't seem interested. With that, they turned around and walked back to their apartment building. We also turned around and headed for our car. Junior never looked back. I think he already knew he was on his way to his forever home. Gina drove us back home, while I sat in the passenger seat with Hoonie curled up in my lap.
Late last night, on his last night as my dog, Gina drove us to the emergency vet clinic and again, Junior was curled up on my lap. In between those two car rides separated by more than a decade and a half, he reminded me every day what it meant to love unconditionally. And I promise to never forget him for that.
And tonight at 9:00 sharp. I'll miss being bonked by an impatient, sweet and hungry Hoonie dog. And I'll miss that every other night for the rest of my life.
So please take care of him, St. Francis. But don't get too attached. Because one of these days, I'm going to see him again. And when I show up, I'll have only one thing on my mind and in my heart:
“I’ve come for my dog.”
I love you, Hoon.
KHS Board Member