July 10, 2021
My dog would’ve made a terrible pirate.
Ivan’s swordsmanship was mediocre, at best, and he certainly couldn’t be trusted to carry around a live parrot. He was notoriously bad, though, at burying treasure. Whenever he’d acquire something particularly valuable, like a marrow bone, he’d rush off to bury it beneath the pear tree in the backyard. And by “bury” I mean “cover with a spirited amount of dog slobber and grass.” He was a big believer in the “hidden in plain sight” methodology, which didn’t work under the best of conditions but was even less effective on rainy days when he’d opt to bury things indoors. He always seemed surprised and perhaps a little embarrassed when I’d find one of his toys nudged next to the ficus plant in the front room. It wasn’t that he didn’t try – he’d spend a lot of time scouting out locations for his loot – it was just that he was really bad at hiding things.
Or so I thought.
Ivan took his last breath four weeks ago today. I don’t think there’s been a day since then that I haven’t uncovered something from his life – a partially chewed stick on the front lawn, an uneaten dog treat in the garage, the shredded remains of a stuffed toy on his bed. There’s a stain on the living room carpet from the time he overindulged in ice-cream. And another one just like it upstairs. He left nose prints on my office door, paw prints on the seat of my truck, and dog hair on the couch. The floors are marred from all the times he exuberantly skidded into the kitchen for a cheese stick. And his favorite ball sits motionless below my son’s bed.
These things catch me off guard.
Take my breath away.
Make me remember.
Sometimes, they make me laugh. And sometimes they make me cry. But these things, these mementos, these small and important and wonderous remnants of our time together were never meant to stay buried.
It turns out my dog wasn’t bad at hiding things. He was just very good at making sure the best things in life get found.
And that is a treasure.