Location: Charlotte, NC
Darcy knew we rescued him. He was abandoned at a vet’s office and the girls met him at Park Road Park while I was playing tennis. They begged me to take him home but we already had a dog and a cat and David had made it clear that we were at capacity with both furry and non-furry offspring. I called to ask him anyway and at first he was adamant in his refusal to even consider the idea of adding Darcy to our menagerie… until we disclosed that his name was Mr. Darcy. I am a huge Pride and Prejudice fan and the girls, all of six and ten years old at the time, convinced David that this was fate. So Mr. Darcy joined our family and he spent the rest of his life – all thirteen and a half years – showing us how grateful he was.
This morning we said goodbye. We thanked him for being the sweetest of dogs and for filling our lives with so much joy and so many funny moments. It was incredibly hard to make the call, especially since he still wagged his tail at the sound of our voices and perked up whenever he sniffed anything resembling food, but it was clear we were keeping him around for selfish reasons. We just couldn’t bear to envision life without him, but we also knew that life was increasingly challenging for him. He suffered a stroke in June and even though he rebounded somewhat after a few days and the magic of daily steroids, we knew we were on borrowed time. In a way, we have been saying goodbye for a while now.
Shortly after we brought him home, his vet papers arrived. Hendrix? Who is Hendrix? It turns out his name was not, in fact, Mr. Darcy. Someone pulled a fast one on us! And sure enough, over the years Darcy answered to many, many names. Dingus and Doodlebug and Deedee were some of his more popular nicknames, and David often called him Little Man. The kids and I would chuckle whenever we heard David talking to Darcy, asking him about his day or if he wanted to watch the news with him. With my being on the road so much, it was the David and Darcy show back home and I know David will miss his little buddy something fierce.
He was a dog of many party tricks… none of them useful and none that were the result of training or some skill we wanted him to master. He was incredibly adept at playing ball all by himself, flinging it off the bed and chasing it down, only to repeat the whole process once he’d jumped back onto the bed. This was more annoying than entertaining when the game would suddenly commence in the middle of the night or when we were trying to watch tv. He would also sometimes discover a chewed up, abandoned bone or tennis ball deep under the couch and he would be relentless in his efforts to retrieve it. It had been there collecting dust for months but all of a sudden it was a matter of life and death to retrieve it right then. He also loved to lie on his back and do the bicycle with his legs with abandon, seemingly timing this display for the middle of dinner parties. It was as if he knew it was too adorable for just us and needed to wait until we had company to fully admire him.
He loved everyone. If you were a guest in our house, Darcy considered you prime cuddle material and would start out sitting next to you but would ease his way onto your lap in no time. He had a way of demanding attention when he thought it was due him. He would put his paw on your lap and gently nudge you if you stopped petting him and he would often swipe at David’s newspaper or iPad if David was too distracted by it. His unique way of showing affection was to bite your elbow, something he loved to do in the mornings to help me wake up the kids for school. What he did notlove were thunderstorms and fireworks. He would start trembling and whining at the first signs of them and we would scramble to get his thunder shirt – the ultimate TV infomercial purchase that actually works! – and bundle him up. He was also terrified of the answering machine, howling and carrying on so that we never once heard a message that was left for us because of all his histrionics. He avoided sprinklers but found storm drains fascinating, and our dog who hated baths (he would turn around and sneak downstairs whenever I ran one for fear it was for him) loved the ocean and ventured into the waves with nary a concern.
Darcy had a bone on his back (white fur on his tan coat in a perfect bone shape) and a splotch of dark brown dots on his white tummy that I tried to wash off when we first brought him home (probably explaining his disdain for baths). But his most distinguishing feature was his sweet nature. Darcy was just such a love. He was a purebred mutt but he was predominately pit bull, definitively settling the question of how unfairly pit bulls’ temperaments have been maligned. He saw me through cancer and our greenway walks together to see the turtles were our routine whenever I was home, but everyone in the family had a special relationship with him and things that they felt were their special bond with him. It makes it that much harder to break the news that he will not be here to greet the kids at Thanksgiving and Christmas/Chanukah, but hopefully we will be able to laugh together as we reminisce about all of his crazy antics.
I can’t imagine our home and our family without him. But what I don’t have to imagine is whether he knew how much we loved him. There was no danger of his feeling unappreciated, that is for sure. We told him repeatedly that he was the best dog ever and I know he hung on as long as he could because he loved us right back. It hurts so much right now that you wonder if it was worth it. Wouldn’t it be better not to get another dog than risk feeling this kind of pain again? But no, Darcy’s legacy is that any time with a loved one beats no time at all. I am so grateful our paths crossed and that David had the good sense to relent and let us add him to our brood so many years ago. It was a great run, Darcy.