My aunt just left on her evening walk with her toy poodle, Tanner. Tanner is the most adored, loved pet that I have ever known. But, this evening, as I watched them walk away, I was reminded of my Uncle Dean. My childhood memories of my father’s younger brother were of a quiet, soft spoken man whose brown hair enhanced his good looks. He and his wife, Alma, lived in Cleveland, Ohio, most, if not all, of their married life. He was slender and of medium height while his wife was very heavy and about the same height as him. They had two children, Melvin and Wanda, cousins whom I never really knew because they lived so far away.
Uncle Dean and Alma had a tiny, brown chihuahua who true to his nature loved only them. Each evening, Dean would take their much loved pet on a walk through the neighborhood. The two of them would follow their well trodden path with mutual satisfaction happy to have those few minutes. For years, they walked together always following the same path and, I suppose, the neighbors knew them just by their routine counting on them to be there no matter the weather. It’s obvious there was a trust between man and dog. The man could be trusted to take him on the walk and take the same route without variation. The man could trust the dog to follow him without fail staying faithfully by his side. It was a mutually satifying routine for them both.
When the dog was nearing his middle years, Dean became ill with kidney disease. These were the days when the medical advances we have today weren’t available. I’m sure Dean’s illness was life altering for both he and his family. There were no transplants nor was there much hope. Of course, the dog didn’t know the particulars, but I’m sure it knew that something was wrong with Dean. Pets sense when things aren’t right with their owner. Time passed and Dean passed away.
The dog still had to go out each night and Aunt Alma couldn’t walk her so she sent the dog on it’s walk. It walked the regular path that Dean had taken with it. At the point where they would turn around, the dog turned and trotted back home. This became the nightly routine for the chihuahua. In it’s own way, it was a tribute to both man and dog and their faithfulness to each other.