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Man’s best friend

Alex Wilcox | Tuesday, February 12, 2013

“A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes or designer clothes. A waterlogged stick will do just fine. A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he will give you his.”

This quote is from John Grogan’s bestselling book and movie, “Marley and Me,” a memoir about Grogan’s adventures with his “world’s worst dog,” a devilish, but loving, yellow lab named Marley. The movie came out Christmas Day in 2008, about one year after my family was blessed with our first dogs, two golden retriever puppies named Simms and Tiki. That day had been a long time coming for me, as I had been begging my parents for a dog ever since I was a little kid.

Simms and Tiki were born on Sept. 27, 2007, and we were finally allowed to pick them up that November. The entire ride home Simms sat on my lap, a practice that became a habit even after he quickly ballooned to 85 pounds, but I couldn’t be happier. All the persistence and begging had paid off, and a boy finally had his dog.

After a year with our dogs, my family and I went to the movies to see “Marley and Me.” I laughed at all the trouble Marley got into, smiled at all the cute moments they shared and cried like a baby when they put Marley to sleep. It’s the only movie to make me cry to this date. I couldn’t imagine the pain it must feel to lose someone so special. I went home after the movie and hugged my dogs, thankful that they were so young.

Last week, my first dog and my best friend, Simms, passed away. He was just five years old, but was born with a very small spleen that escaped the eyes of the veterinarian. Our entire family was devastated. We all agreed it was terribly unfair that the greatest, most loving dog in the was taken from us so soon. As any dog owner can attest to, dogs are not just animals or a pets, they are a part of your family. The only explanation I could accept is the one provided by my mom: “Maybe his spleen was so small because his heart was so big.”

Suddenly, every moment I spent with him became priceless. Chasing him down the beach after he got under the fence and terrorized every picnic in his path, scrubbing him down after a long day of rolling in mud: These are memories I’ll cherish forever. What once was a chore now became a gift, and I would do anything to take him on one last walk or feed him one last time.

As hard as it is to accept, life goes on. For dog owners though, man’s best friend will always be there. Thank you Simms for everything you’ve done for our family and me. Rest in peace, pup.

Contact Alex Wilcox at awilcox1@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.