Today I said goodbye to the best dog anyone has ever had. I am sure there are many people who could argue with me that their dog held that title, but I know in my heart that my beautiful Paris was truly the best dog ever.
Paris joined our family the last week of July in 2002, a present for Dr. Smooth’s 4th birthday. I wanted him to have a dog. A boy’s dog, that would run and play and rip and roar and be his best friend and most loyal companion.
She was all that and more.
Paris was strikingly beautiful. Her mother was a full-blooded German short-haired pointer of championship lines. A lady. Her father was some lab mix that happened to find a way across the fence. A tramp. Paris was one of 11 puppies, most the mottled, speckled black and white of her mother. But not my sweet P. She was the most beautiful one, a rich chocolatey color with an incredible white for contrast. Everywhere I ever took her, people always stopped us and asked what kind of dog she was. And they always remarked how beautiful she was.
She was a handful from the very start. All puppy, all energy, all the time. We went through four different trainers, and that was just to learn to walk with a leash. She could have pulled a sled across the Iditarod finish line all by herself, and she pulled more than one person facedown in the grass when they tried to walk her without realizing her strength.
She was an escape artist too. Anyone who left the door open for a moment would see a flash of brown and white and she’d be off to roam the neighborhood. All it took to coax her back was a ride in the car. She LOVED going for a ride. And once you located her in the neighborhood, you would need only to open the door and she would come running and jump in the car with an expression that said, “Hey!! Am I happy to see you!! Where you going? Can I come??”
Paris loved people, and she loved attention. She would sit motionless for hours as long as someone was petting her.
She was wonderful with children of all ages, so patient and gentle, so kind and forgiving of their rough play.
And she loved her boy soooo much. Her boy was her very favorite person on the planet. Most nights she would go to sleep by his side and sneak into my room later. As he got older, she began to sleep in his room most nights when he was home. If she didn’t sleep in his room, it was the first place she would go upon waking. She lit up all over when he would come home. She was everything I could have ever wished for in giving him a lesson in unconditional love.
She was incredible with other dogs and cats. Always the watchful nanny with younger animals, training them, teaching them, playing with them. She was the best babysitter ever for other pets. She would even go and get a toy and bring it to the other dogs to play. Puppies teethed on her ears and learned their manners as she laid on her back and gave them gentle warnings if they nipped too hard. She would lay so still and let the kittens crawl all over her and attack each other using her body as a barricade.
Her favorite place to visit was the dog beach at Fort Desoto. It is an off-leash beach filled with dogs of all sizes. She would run through the edge of the waves crashing on the shore, sprint across the beach, greeting all the other dogs and their owners, and then run back to me with the hugest, happiest smile on her face that said, “Thanks Mom! This is the best! I am so happy right now!”
And when we returned home she would sleep for hours, exhausted and happy!
Once Dr. Smooth and I went for an overnight trip to the beach and stayed in a pet-friendly hotel. We spent the day at the beach, and then late in the afternoon we dropped her off at the hotel, counting on her normal exhaustive sleepiness for a couple of hours. We took a speedboat dolphin cruise and when we returned to the room . . . Oh Boy.
I had leashed her to the king size bed to keep her from jumping up on the couch in the room. She had pulled the huge bed all the way over to the couch, jumped on it until the faux leather was scratched and peeling, completely DESTROYED the mini-blinds in the window, and scratched huge lines in the window tint. That was her first and last hotel stay.
The first time we ever took her in Harvey the RV, she jumped right up into the front seat and looked around as though she was born to be a co-pilot. It was her seat for every camping trip we ever took, and My Knight swore he was going to buy her goggles and a scarf like a proper co-pilot should have.
Paris was very charming, and most people who visited the house would always “offer” or “threaten” to take Paris home with them. She even charmed our dog sitter into letting her sleep in the bed with her the first time she kept the dogs. (Although our sitter proclaimed Paris to be a bed hog who stretched out all four legs and took up the entire bed!)
But no one could have loved her more than I did. She has been my companion through thick and thin, tragedy and triumph, laughter and tears, elation and despair for the last eleven years. She has stood by me through everything life has offered.
Relationships, jobs, illnesses, disappointments, changes, love, hurts, and even hurricanes — she has been there through it all. Always loving. Always loyal. Always there. And always, always happy to see me and be loved by me. Even in moments that I didn’t love myself.
I told her months ago, before we even knew that the arthritis was fusing her spine and robbing her life of years to come, that when her time came to leave this earth, God would throw open his arms and say, “Come, Paris! Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have done EVERYTHING I created you to do. You have loved and you have been loved. I am so proud of you!”
I lay in the floor with her often, telling her she was the best dog ever. And today as I lay in the floor and waited for the vet’s needle to close her eyes forever, I told her again that God was waiting to welcome her to heaven’s dog beach, and that I loved her. I thanked her for everything she has given us.
And I told her one last time that she was truly the best dog ever. Goodbye, My Sweet P.