My Friend (Dog) Dunhill

In May 2002, my wife, Karen, came home with some news. We had said goodbye to our Cindy who was so full of cancer. I wasn’t sure I wanted another dog. But with this news I was ready to check it out.

Someone had an 8 year old English Springer Spaniel. I wasn’t at all familiar with the breed. We went over to the house. The owner had died and a lady named Ginger, a friend of the family had him flown here to California all the way from New Jersey. His name was Dunhill (pretty classy) and he couldn’t stop moving except momentarily for a biscuit. We took him home with Ginger’s approval.

I learned right away that Dunhill was a headstrong boy. I even got myself bit by mishandling him (my fault entirely.) But from then on we grew to be the best of friends.

We hadn’t had a dog in the house before but Dunhill soon persuaded us to make an exception for him. He first slept in the hallway but later on would sleep in our bedroom. He took naps with me on the bed. He taught us about counter surfing. He took over a chair by the front door to watch for us. He decided on his territory from fence to creek. If he saw a dog on the other side of the creek, out he’d go trying to look all big and bad. Don’t come over here. This is where I live!

He wasn’t a barker except if the doorbell rang. Then he’d go bonkers for a moment. One time he jumped right over the couch!

He had no use for other dogs. He liked cats – for the chasing. One night he pulled a possum out of the garden. He liked to run off those crows. Good boy!

He learned about bees by sticking his nose by the entrance of one of my hives. Stings later, he decided I better stay away from those bee hives. But he did like the honey. He did a good job of cleaning up what I spilled during extraction.

He adopted the family but I was his man. He found ways to endear himself to each of us while managing to snatch an occasional sandwich. He came to church with me for years. Slept in my office. Listened while I practiced my sermons. Sat by while I counseled young couples. Visited with the confirmation class kids. One time I saw two girls petting him while taking notes.

When I would go on a trip Karen would report how Dunhill would just mope around waiting for my return.

He loved food, especially ours, carrots, biscuits, Kleenex, garbage. He would sit, shake hands, roll over, most anything for food. One day I left my son’s birthday cake on the dining room table. Found him up on the table licking off the icing. Dunhill!!! Mom just said she’d make another one.

Dunhill had two frightening episodes. Both times he could not stand, fell over. We thought we were going to lose him but each time he recovered in about two weeks.

It was hard to watch Dunhill age. His eyesight and hearing deteriorated. We had to use visual commands. Later on he would lose me in the shadows. The arthritis made it hard for him to get around. I could no longer watch him go bounding across a field. Yet no matter how hard it was for him Dunhill remained so devoted to us. When I broke my hip he stayed at my side. He truly demonstrated for us an unconditional love.

God gives us many gifts in this life. It’s important not just to appreciate them but also to remember that each gift is only for a time. Dunhill was one of those gifts that made us smile, laugh, shake our heads, and finally cry at his passing. He had a full life and we got to enjoy him and see him live to almost 16 years of age. I expect to have other dogs but it’s hard to picture one as special as Dunhill. For him I am very much thankful. Good bye my friend.

May 30, 2009

Jeff from CA