Yup, that's me. Shameless, I am. Pandering, I am. In a pathetic bid to win Emily's gourmet dog biscuit NaBloPoMo prize, I'm submitting this dog post.
We brought our first puppy home in the summer of 1988, the year of the drought. Temperatures here in Minnesota were hitting 105, and the grass had all turned brown. We found our dog in a litter of 8 week old puppies, living on a farm west of the Twin Cities.
"Oh, you got the Smart One," the farmer said. "He'll make breakfast for you."
The breeder gave us a terry shirt to put in the box, to take the smell home with us. The whole way home, he sat in the box in the footwell of the passenger side, and we said "Oh my god, how do we raise a dog. Oh thank god it's not a baby."
That summer was hot, even with central air. At night we would put the puppy into a box with a can of beer. He'd lie over the can with the bare skin of his belly on the metal for maximum cooling. Mmmmm...Leinenkugel's.
We had him with us for three days trying to think of a name for him. In the interim, he was "Buddy" and "Buster" and "Boy" and by the end of the three days it was clear that his name would start with a "B." One day, while talking on the phone with my husband, we were running through different B names, and he said "Bentley."
That was it, of course. Bentley, a name that conjures the elegant limosine of the type owned by rich English heiresses with country homes and London pieds-a-terre. Silk stockings and cloche hats and a body in the library. An elegant and enormous car, for a puppy small enough to fit in my hand.
But what about all those other names? Those other B names that weren't Bentley? Beowulf and Baxter and Buster and Buddy and Bernard and Bumper Car? Well, I am nothing if not about pretentiousness. So we named him, officially, "B. Baxter Bentley."
B. Baxter Bentley was always my dog. When he was still a tiny puppy and I was studying for the bar exam, he napped on my study guides. In the summer, he would plaster his furry body against my hips as he spent the night on my side of the bed. And even in his old old age, when I went to stretch out on the couch and read, I'd hear the "boom ba da boom ba da boom" of his feet as he ran across the house to jump up onto my chest as I read.
Bentley was a one woman dog. He was a handful with the vet, and the groomer had to sedate him to trim him up. But he'd let me put drops in his eyes, clip his nails, whatever needed to be done. Even the vet was amazed at how docile Bentley was for me.
He was a good little man in a fuzzy suit who lived to be fifteen years old. Even in his last hours, as he had seizure after seizure, he would calm when I was near. It broke my heart to say goodbye to him, and I cried all the way on the last trip to the vet with him.
This happened two and a half years ago, and I'm still tearing up with missing him. He was a little dog with a really big heart, and I only wish that there is a doggie heaven, where he can run without a leash, and there are no rules against feeding him pizza from the table.
[N.B. These are not actual pictures of Bentley, but they are astonishingly close. He left us before the advent of digital pictures, and these are some that I found on the web.]