We all know the phrase “heart horse”, so it should come as no surprise to any animal lover that heart dogs are equally as common. What I didn’t post about much this week, is how stressful my heart dog currently is right now. This is not a post about that though – this is a post about our happier days.
I got Eliot for my 21st birthday. For months, and I do mean months, I had been begging my parents for a dog for my birthday. Not just any dog though, a male liver and white English Springer Spaniel. I would name him Eliot with one “l” (an important distinction) after T.S. Eliot. Three days before my birthday, I came home unexpectedly for dinner and asked my parents where “my dog” was. Of course, I was talking about our family Labrador but my mom freaked out and said, “Your dog? This dog?! What dog?!?” and an eight week old puppy wandered out from behind the kitchen counter.
Eliot was the light of my life. I set my college schedule around puppy care, so he would never have more than four hours alone at a time. We spent lots of time training basic things, and he went everywhere with me. When I first started dating my now husband, he took an immediate shine to my four month old puppy. It’s a good thing, because if he didn’t like the dog I knew the relationship was going no where.
We did puppy classes at first, and when he graduated from intro obedience we kept doing training in order to get our Canine Good Citizen card. By far the hardest part of that test was the “separation from handler” part, because I’m not elaborating when I say that I was the sun for Eliot’s whole world. That dog worshipped the ground I walked on, and in return I treated him like my best friend.
For years he was the perfect barn dog. A lot of people saw him at horse shows and would say to me, “Oh I can’t bring my Springer to the barn because he’s way too hyper!” but I never had that experience. He always had a respect of horses and staying out of the ring so long as the horses followed his rules, and his rules were simple: don’t run around without a rider on, and don’t put his mom sitting in the dirt. The one time I fell off badly and couldn’t get back up immediately, Eliot whined and cried until he was allowed to break the “no dogs in the ring” rule and come sit in my lap.
He’s always been a live wire. Fetch is absolute favorite thing in the entire world. Even better if fetching involves swimming… once he had to be rescued from drifting out to see because a stick got thrown a bit too far out and he was determined to get it. In his younger days, he would joyfully leap through the air bounding after an object. They don’t call them Springer Spaniels for nothing!
When we moved to Massachusetts and I found myself without a horse for the first time in my adult life, I asked Eliot to take up the competitive slack for me. We trained for agility for two years, and ended up competing twice. The first time we were disqualified because Eliot saw his Dad watching at the end of thing… and jumped out to greet him after the last obstacle 🙂 The second time he won two blue ribbons, and pranced around as if he were the fanciest dog at the show. To me, he’s always the fanciest dog.
Despite carrying a full coat and looking like the regal show dog, he’s always been a complete goof. In his joy, he makes questionable life decisions including “partying hard” in a mucky oyster bed full of sharp shells, eating two lightbulbs (yes, lightbulbs) and jumping out of a second story window of a house. True story. Also, if a day ever comes where he stops showing an interest in toys I’ll know it’s time… because there is no greater treat to him than someone throwing a jolly ball. Nothing better.
Eliot has given me so much joy in life, that I can’t help but feel wholly sad and heartbroken as I write this post and juxtapose to how things are now. But that is what I will write about another day… for now I just wanted you to see one of my best friends for the past eight years through my rose colored glasses a bit.