Although I’ve had many pets my dog Martini (my dad owned a cocktail lounge) was special because she was the dog I grew up with. We were told that Martini was a German Shepard-Collie mix but we never really cared enough to find out. All we knew was that she was the greatest dog ever. My brothers and I ranged in age from 10 to 15 years old and we loved that dog and showered her with affection. So did our neighbors and all the neighborhood kids who would flock in and out of our house all day long. Even my grandparents loved her-especially my grandfather whom Martini decided to love most of all. She would howl with joy when he would come over and take her for a walk.

After all these years I can’t even remember how we found her. I guess she was just wandering the streets as a lost puppy. I do remember that when we got her she was quaking and scared and it took weeks for her to stop shivering and yelping. She must have chewed half our furniture before we got her to calm down. Eventually, though, she began to settle down. There were so many of us kids around giving her non-stop attention and she loved every minute of it. Within weeks, she was a constant companion to all of us.

At the time, my brothers and I were all playing Little League or Babe Ruth baseball and my dad was a coach so we spent many a day at our local park. On weekends we would spend morning to night at the ball field and Martini was there with us all day long. Laws were different back then and we were able to just let her roam free and she would play with anyone or everyone-but she always had the common courtesy to “check in” with us every now and then to let us know she was okay. She was smart and well behaved and everyone loved her. One weekend my father returned from the baseball park without her. An hour or two went by before it dawned on us that no one had brought Martini home from the park. Anxiously, we hurried back to the baseball diamond to look for her. My dad pulled our T-Bird into his usual spot and honked the horn for her just as he always did and out of nowhere came a very tired looking dog jogging toward us from some distant area of the park. We opened the door and she hopped in and gave us a look as if to say, “Thanks dummy, it’s about time but I knew you’d finally figure it out.”

The years passed quickly and Martini was an integral part of all our lives. She loved car rides and we took her everywhere. She even went hiking with us on occasion and I remember we actually brought ropes with us that we used to raise and lower Martini when portions of the rocky trails were too dicey for her to traverse. By the age of 12 or 13 she was pretty much worn out both physically and mentally. Arthritis made it difficult for her to get up and around and we had to carry her down our stairs and back up so she could go on her daily walks. It wasn’t long before she no longer wanted to go out at all. Soon she became afraid of every little noise in our now empty family home. On one of Martini’s last days I was home for a visit and I realized she wasn’t herself anymore and it brought tears to my eyes because she had gotten old so quickly that it seemed to happen overnight. Just yesterday it seemed she was that beautiful energetic little puppy that we took everywhere and now she was an old empty shell of herself. It was too painful for me to deal with at the time and I left her that day and I never saw her again–and I tried not to think about her again either. All of us kids had since moved out and we left it to my poor mom to make the horrible one-way ride. An overwhelming sadness fell over me that Martini was gone and my childhood was now officially over. I wasn’t ready for her to go. Now it’s been almost 30 years since she died and I’ve never actually dealt with her death or how important she was to me. That is, until now.

Brian from CA