This guy, right here:

Gordon. Gordon Benzickle, so called because Mark used to call me Anna Benzickle (I can’t remember why, he just liked — wait, still likes — giving me nicknames) and since Gordo was to be my dogson, I had to give him my last name and so Gordon Benzickle he was then, is now, and forever shall be.

I was prompted to write this post after Gordon was bitten on the face this weekend and I was confronted with his mortality. It wasn’t a terrible bite, just a bit of a gash he got in a mini confrontation with another dog on our walk.  I started thinking of Old Yeller and the rabies and the sad sad scene, and then we got a quarantine order from the Watertown animal people and had warnings and cautions and urgings and. Well, suffice it to say, Gordon is FINE and rabies-free.  But as I consoled him Saturday morning, cleaning the blood from his wounded mouth and as Mark held him still as the vet checked him out, I couldn’t help but think about a day when Gordon might not be with us.  Gordon will be 11 years old (or so, we’re not really sure) this January, and although his wise gray beard might show his age, he still runs and jumps around, chases a tennis ball, and hides his bone like a young pup might do.  We’ve had him six of his now ten years and they’ve been fun and silly and crazy and sometimes (when he used to run away to frolic in western Mass. horse pastures) scary.  But have I loved him enough?  Has he had a good life? Has he been happy here with us?

And why do such good and wonderful and loving creatures, who love us back no matter our shortcomings and imperfections and peccadilloes, and who bark and roll in the grass and smile and play, receive so few years of life when we receive so many more which we selfishly take for granted and spend doing far less fun things?  It’s not fair.  I said the same thing when we lost Gus and Sam last year.  It is not fair.

Gordon has taught me so much. Patience. Love. The life span of a stuffed toy is about 6 seconds. One can do anything with a little encouragement. And that it’s ok to nap…all day.  But perhaps above all these things, Gordon has taught me that life is too short to be doing less than fun things.  He lives life with such happiness and joy.  Look at that grin!  Come on.  Would that every moment of every day I had a grin like that on my face–what kind of life would I live?  How might my day be different if I got as excited about the little things as he gets over a small treat, a new smell, or a double layer dog bed?  Oftentimes I see walks as a duty, a chore, yet the moment we say the word “walk” or even motion towards his leash he goes jumping crazy.  Gordon will hear the sound of a spoon scraping out the last bits of ice cream from a bowl and come running from another part of the apartment to have just the slightest chance of licking the bowl. And yes, we always let him.  He stands beneath the fridge whining… looking at us… looking up at the snacks he knows are on top of the fridge… looking back at us… back at the fridge… back at us.  He knows that we know we can’t stand his cuteness.  And he knows when I’m sad, or sick, or down.  Because he’ll come jump up in bed and put his head on my thigh.  Sometimes he’ll stand a little bit closer a little bit longer so we can run our hands from head to tail and gain a bit of calm after a busy day.

Oh, sweet Gordon.  I love you.  I hope you know it.  I hope I show it.  I hope I can be more like you.