In honor of Gunnar, the Proust-reading Flatcoat Retriever, I got involved in "Flatcoat Rescue" a number of years ago.
Flatcoats are fabulous dogs, but they aren't, say, Golden Retrievers. Flatcoats tend to have an agenda, an attitude, and generally, in their opinion at least, a better way of doing almost anything you want them to do.
This makes them occasionally 'a challenge' to unsuspecting dog owners who may think they are getting a Golden Retriever in a black fur coat.
So, in order to make sure any rescued Flatcoats from our area went to homes which would understand them, I ended up dealing with a fair number of long-haired black dogs. Most of them weren't Flatcoats, but we found them good homes, anyway.
One of them found a home with my oldest son. His name was Roy
Roy could jump a four to five foot high fence just by standing and looking at it, then bunching his muscles and springing straight over.
He could dance. He did the most amazing four-footed shuffle and hip wiggle you ever saw.
He was incredibly strong. He could pull me off my feet when he was a youngster without even trying. He weighed around 100 pounds. And it wasn't all fur. It was solid dog. Solid Roy.
Suffice to say, Roy wasn't a flatcoat.
He was part Newfoundland, according to a vet and Newfoundland breeder, and part something else. Maybe Golden. Maybe elephant. Maybe small house.
No matter. He was the sweetest-natured dog in the world.
My son loved him dearly, but after three years his living circumstances changed and there wasn't room in his tiny house for all his family and Roy The Big Black Dog.
Also, they were gone a lot and Roy needed companionship. So, as a stop-gap, he came to live with us. But we had four dogs (three Goldens and Gunnar) at the time and they were all, if not as big as Roy, pretty close. It was like having an entire suite of living room furniture that rearranged itself at will.
And while I would have loved to keep Roy here, there wasn't space (particularly in our bed during thunderstorms when Roy thought that if he lay on top of you, that still wasn't anywhere close enough, and could he just get inside your skin, please?).
We had friends who had recently lost their beloved Golden Retriever, Chase, and we knew they would be fabulous parents for Roy. So Roy went to live with them.
Going to live with Chuck and Susan at The Hancock House Bed and Breakfast
in Dubuque was the best of all possible worlds. For Roy. For Chuck and Susan. And for the many many people whose lives Roy touched. Let's face it, there are some dogs meant to be 'public ambassadors.' That was Roy.
Despite the fact that he could shed for Newfoundland, Roy was a perfect B&B dog. He never met a person he didn't like. He was unfailingly friendly, cheerful, and always willing to be hugged. He thrived on the attention. And Susan and Chuck's guests thrived on knowing that this great big black dog thought they were absolutely special because they had come to visit him.
It was a perfect match.
Every time I went to visit, I got to be Roy's Grandma and he always came and leaned against me and butted his big head into my knees or laid his head in my lap and looked up adoringly, as if to say, "You found me the best home with the best people in the whole world."
I know they would say he made their lives as wonderful and rich as they made his.
Yesterday Roy crossed the rainbow bridge. We wish he could have stayed here forever. But we're glad we had him in our lives as long as we did.
He had ten and a half years in which he made the world a better place.
God speed, Roy. Thank you for loving all the people in your life as much as you did.