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Dwyer Leahy Vessey
You came to us in a blur of excitement and puppy smells – cinnamon copper red
and wriggling with too much love to hold in your little body. We tossed names
around like the tennis balls we threw to you for hours. Not one was right until
one day in the sun you scampered by in a blaze of glory, and there you were –
Penfold Mays Golden Blaze.
You tumbled into our mixed half-family lives and became the one missing
ingredient that blended us whole. You were the only one that understood our
teenage girl, that could match the energy of our pre-teen boy, and be our
toddler’s guide for her first steps. We had come together to be a family, but
until you came we had not blended as one. Sacred traditions like going to Camp
on the lake were the older kids’ memories – and they were sometimes too precious
to share with new ones, new children.
We took you to Camp that first time, and once you saw the long dock, the light
on the water, the stillness, the peace of it all – you ran straight to that
stillness and jumped, causing ripples that forever changed us all. Each year we
would bring you to Camp and you would smell the pine-tree tunnel and know that
in mere moments you would be free to streak down the dock ablaze in your glory
and jump into the stillness to make ripples. At the end of the week we would
pull you out of the water, exhausted, and leaner, your golden-red coat tangled
with swirling water knots. When there was a ban on dogs at Camp, you were the
one exception. No one who had seen your love for Camp could ever deny you that
moment when you curled your front paws over the edge of the dock and looked
back; waiting for those two wonderful words to be said. “Blaze! Jump!” and you
would fling yourself into the sky, into the water, into our hearts.
When your muzzle was tinged with white, you’d still play ball for hours in the
water – stumbling onto the dock, staggering a little, you would drop the ball
and shake. Sometimes the ball would fall back into the water – and there you
would go again – into the water…always into the water.
When your hips were old before your spirit, we had to limit the number of times
we would throw the ball into the lake. After three times, you would have to
rest…and you would quietly nudge the ball off the dock with your nose and watch
until it had drifted out from the dock just enough for you to get up, look at us
with resigned exasperation as if to say “well someone has to get it” and you
Camp traditions now grew to include watching over sleeping toddlers in the
hammock, licking marshmallow sticky baby fingers, sneaking dropped hamburgers
under the picnic table, and the towing of the newest of us in her yellow life
jacket as she gleefully wrapped her “pimmers” in your fur and went for yet
another swim with Blaze.
You became our blending – our communality – loved by all of us, you knew that
each of us loved you best and needed you more than any of us. You made our
family whole, and true, and real. We hold you forever in our hearts and see you
always, running for the water, always the water – to jump once again into the
stillness and make ripples that go on forever.
July 22, 1993 – February 16, 2008
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