Eddie-a life remembered By P.S. Gifford On July 5th, 2003 the final word, on the final page of the story of my beloved dog Eddie was composed. How did Eddie come into my life? When I was a very young twenty one I had planned to go see a movie one early spring evening. When I arrived at the theatre, I discovered that the advertised time in that day’s newspaper had been wrong. I had forty-five minutes to find something to do; it just so happened that in the same parking lot was a pet store. I have always had a fondness for animals. It was basically a pet supply store, but they did sell a few rabbits and mice. They normally never sold dogs, but as soon as I walked in I noticed a large cardboard box, placed by the door. I inquisitively peered inside, and too my delight discovered that a young puppy was sitting there... My curiosity was now peeked. I read the information on a card, that had been taped to the make shift home. It informed me that the store owner’s next door neighbor’s dog had an unexpected litter of 6 Airedale terrier/ German shepherd mix puppies. Growing up in England, I had always desperately wanted a dog perhaps clinging to a romantic notion that having a dog was an enchanted experience. Maybe I had read one two many Enid Blyton books, or watched too many episodes of Lassie on a Saturday afternoon, but circumstances alas had ever permitted my dream to be realized. As I peered in at this little fellow, the last remaining pup of the brood, a strange thing happened; he looked straight back at me, as if to say "here I am!" I somehow managed to pull myself away from his clinging gaze. I then attempted to distract myself by glancing about the rest of the store. As I peered at a rabbit, the puppy managed to climb out the box and follow me! The owner of the store smiled in amazement. "He has never done that before…” She remarked in an amused tone. At this point in my life I was renting a second floor apartment, not the ideal environment to nurture and take care of an energetic six week old puppy. I bit my lip, pulled my composure together and marched out of the store, trying hard not to look back at the glorious young dog again. The store owners, picked him up, and smiled at me, as I left my ears were full of whimpering. I discovered it difficult to fall asleep that night, I kept thinking about him. It was the strangest thing this curious little dog was turning into an obsession… The next day I tried again to keep my mind off him, I almost succeeded. But at 5:30 the impulse became stronger than I could stand "I must have this dog." My mind was made up! Now, the shop closed at six, so I knew that I had to move fast as I had 15 miles of freeway to cover. I raced to my car and sped off into the afternoon flirting with getting a speeding ticket. I arrived with moments to spare, hurriedly parked my car, and ran into the shop, my adrenaline racing and my heartbeat thumping. I had made it, there was the box! I looked in, unable to conceal my excitement and to my horror the box was EMPTY!! “AAArgh” I thought, “I am too late, and someone else has taken my dog!” It was then I looked up and noticed the friendly store owner -who was smiling at me! She quickly informed me she had seen the look of love come over me the day before, and had put the dog safely in the back room for me! Her heart had told her that I was going to be back. As she went back to get him, I don’t know who was more excited me, or the dog! So that is how I came to own my first dog. He came to be known as ‘Eddie Valentino.’ There are a many, many stories I could share about him, and perhaps one day I might but as I sit here and write my simple tribute to my beloved friend, on this the day of his passing, a few significant events readily spring to mind… Eddie had such a confounding impact on my life, it is most difficult to fully express. However I shall take an attempt to explain some of his everlasting effect on me. Please forgive me as it is late, and my lack of real sleep for a couple of days is having a marked impression. My education into dog ownership began quickly as I realized just how dependent a puppy is. I was completely naive as to what dog ownership fully entailed. The actual purchase of the dog was a mere $35.00, after my first vet visit and pet store extravaganza; I was soon up to the $500.00 mark! I was still a waiter at the time, so it was definitely felt, but I did not care, nothing was too good for my new best friend. I remember eating lots of meatless spaghetti dinners and macaroni those first couple of months! The very first night I brought him home, I had made a bed out of a large shoe box and a soft towel, and placed it carefully by the side of my bed. My optimistic intent that we were both going to get a good night’s sleep- Wrong! That first night was rather long! The only way he eventually got any rest was by sucking on my little finger. The next night, after a little research I wrapped an alarm clock in with the towel and although a vast improvement, he still felt a need to suckle that finger of mine! I quickly established that he was a very active pup and that he needed at least two hours of exercise daily for him to burn of all of his energy, this in turn meant that I also was getting two hours of exercise. Each day we were to be found in the local park, chasing, catching and playing, building the foundations of a deep trusting friendship. The months passed and circumstances prompted that I needed to find a new place to call home, as I had to move out of my old apartment. I regrettably had to get Eddie boarded a couple of times. Eventually I discovered it, an apartment on the bad side of town, but they allowed dogs. (Have you ever tried apartment hunting with a hundred pound dog in tow?) I left Eddie behind when I was scheduled to meet with my new landlord. He seemed to like me, and despite being in a questionable neighborhood, the downstairs apartment with a small yard seemed perfect. I mentioned that I had a “medium sized” dog. He explained that the deposit would be higher but a smallish dog is acceptable. A contract was signed. I shall never forget the look on his face when he actually got to see Eddie for the first time! Eddie started going everywhere with me, outdoor restaurant patios, and convenience stores and even into the barbers, no-one seemed to mind! It seemed as if the whole neighborhood knew of my unusual, half human companion. He became my best friend, companion and protector. The bond between us was incredible. You might find this hard to believe, yet he could communicate to me, with a particular bark, or shake of his head. Eddie also was a teacher, he taught me patience, but most importantly he taught me how to love. When I was depressed, he was there to understand and support. His dependence on me so much managed to motivate myself as I would permit myself to let him down. I manage to get my career going, moving up into restaurant management, the future was beginning to look rosy. My life went on like this for the next ten years. We both had become older and wiser sharing a multitude of adventures and experiences together. I was happy and contented with my life, yet I could not help but think something important was still missing from it. Then after an intriguing set of circumstances at the restaurant I managed I got to meet the second angel God had seen fit to bless me with -my beloved wife Sarah. We got engaged on the first night, moving in together a month later…Love truly does work in miraculous ways.