My companion of 13 years died on Wednesday. His name was Champion Miyazaki-Smith. He was a brindle boxador (lab/boxer mix). He was from a litter of a dozen puppies, half were being boarded in the San Lorenzo Valley, the other half in Pacific Grove.

A couple of puppies who looked exactly like black lab puppies came bounding up the kennel at me. I saw this little brown and red brindle in the corner, curled into itself and my heart zinged. I didn’t know my heart could do that until I saw that puppy.

We filled out paper work, paid the money and we went home. When I brought him home that night he fit on my breasts. He fidgeted, he squirmed and then he settled in.

His whole body was the size of his adult head.

I wanted him to be a car dog because we were going to go places. The first time I took him out in my car, he threw up. I was very cross. Sternly I said to him, “If you’re gonna be my dog, you’re gonna have to learn to be a car dog.”

He never threw up in the car again.

Around that same time, I had the back window rolled down to where the child safety portion kicks in. We were on our way for a walk on the levy. I was talking to him, telling him we’d walk and walk til he got tired and have to take a long nap.

Something told me something wasn’t right. I looked behind me and didn’t see him in the car. I stopped the car and looked back on the road. I had visions of him being run over, or lost forever. I started to cry.

Then I saw him running for all he was worth to catch up with me, afraid I’d leave him behind. He’d fallen out of that child safety window which clearly wasn’t high enough for his little body.

In his youth he was a handsome 80 # brindle puppy boy. At doggie school he learned to heel (most of the time), to sit and to come, all of which he did most of the time, and if he wanted to.

We’d walk, him on his leash and I was the bravest person in the world because I knew no one would mess with me.

Also most of the time he knew his name. He also knew my whistle. He’d come running up kicking up dust and gravel and leaves and dirt.

He was patient when I stopped to watch two lady bugs mating. Or when I’d have to admire the first purple lupine of the spring. He tolerated me looking for our red tail hawk friends and for our snowy egrets and blue heron. He would wait patiently while I looked through my monocular, spotting them flying or resting or standing on the banks for the winter ponds.

He was magic. We didn’t talk much when we walked. I would point and he’d trot in that direction. He’d run fast ahead of me and I’d be ambling, taking my time, admiring leaves and whatnot. He’d come trotting back to find me. He’d wait patiently til I caught up with him.

He was patient with me the last few months of his life, waiting til I was ready to let him go. I wasn’t sure if he believed me when, the last two weeks of his life, I would whisper I loved him and that he must say hi to Jude for me. I told him I was ready, that I would be okay. That I would miss him so much but that I didn’t want him to linger because I was being so selfish.

The last 24 hours of his life, he barely acknowledged me. His dark eyes had filmed over and he was looking past this world.
When we got to the vet’s Ace went to let Kerrin know we were there. I crawled into the back seat with him, just sitting with him. We sat together on the floor waiting for Kerrin.

I kissed him on the forehead as Kerrin injected him with the necessary drugs. He made no fuss. He asked no questions. He was ready.

He was my best boy.

1 February 2019 – The Champion

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