Thursday, November 25, 2004

“If that don’t beat all. I never saw such a dog.”

The Movie: Old Yeller, 1957 (Fred Gipson and William Tunberg, from Gipson’s novel; Robert Stevenson, dir.)
Who says it: Dorothy McGuire as Katie Coates, a rancher’s wife on the 1860s frontier
The context: Old Yeller has just saved Katie’s son, Arliss, from a bear.
How to use it: To express respect for any great dog.

I'm sure I've seen this movie, but it's the book I remember reading -- in fourth grade, I think, when I read all the great dog books: Lad, A Dog; The Call of the Wild; Sounder; Lassie Come Home. I remember feeling frustrated that my mother's beagle-basset hound mix, Penny, wasn't more of an Adventure Dog, and thinking that when I grew up I'd have a big dog. And my own room.

So now I'm grown up, and I have a big dog and my own room.

But today's quotation honors Murray, my friend Ann Marie's dog, who passed on yesterday after a very long, very happy life. Murray was Dizzy's first dog friend and mentor; he was the one who introduced Dizzy to the joys of searching counters and knocking over trash cans for food.

Murray, a white Lab, would eat anything he could reach, and quite a lot he couldn't. His finest moment was cracking open a theoretically dogproof "food safe" and eating almost all of its contents before passing out with five pounds of kibble in his belly.

But Murray was also a great hiker, a sympathetic listener, and a world-class cuddler. He liked car rides and baths, and hated non-neutered dogs. He had as good a sense of humor as any dog I've known, and sometimes actually looked as if he were laughing.

So now, wherever he is, it's Thanksgiving every day, and he finally gets to eat as much as he wants. Good dog, Murray.

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