On dog hair

There it was — as persistent as it had always been. A stubborn, short, quiet hair on the arm of my jacket this afternoon. My hand went up to brush it away, and then it stopped. Routine interrupted.

There it was. Although several weeks before, my beloved red dog had peacefully passed away. My closest companion of 12 years had once shed — generously and unadulteratedly — across the things of my life. And while she was gone, here: her trademark doghair still stood.

How lucky I had been for the red hair. How lucky I had been for the loyalty two companion animals provide: commingled, intertwined, co-habitated. Shedding upon one another our lives such that when we went back into the world, we had these small red badges of courage.

In our dozen years together, this animal taught me more about being a person than any person I’ve known. Importantly:

  1. Learn at least one impressive trick.
  2. Shake when wet.
  3. Wag.
  4. When off the leash, it is best to run to a loved one.
  5. Accept treats from strangers energetically yet cautiously.
  6. Roll in grass whenever possible.
  7. Wonderful things can sometimes be found in the trash.
  8. Barking is a last resort.
  9. Know when the right time is to let go of what you love.
  10. True life partners do exist.

Lucy passed away November 15, 2012. The loss devastated me so deeply and personally that I couldn’t speak of it at all. Now, I think back on what I have been known to say, “When in doubt, trust the one covered in dog hair.” Trust them, and know they’re carrying badges of much more.

How lucky we are if we have known dog hair.

This thought was first published by The Pastry Box Project, and inspired by Lucy and my infinitely kind brother.