I’ve been trying to find an old picture of Charlie. He was the most loyal dog I ever had when I was a child. Charlie’s mother was Sheba, which was a German Shepherd/wolf mix. She was a great dog and Charlie was born in a litter of twelve.
We gave away eleven of the pups and kept Charlie. He was a brown dog, and we never knew who had fathered him. He didn’t even resemble Sheba, but he was a dog that followed me everywhere I explored. He scouted ahead and circled back around, making certain, I suppose, that I was safe. He went with me when I fished at the local ponds, when I was insect collecting, or when my sister and I played games outside. He was always within sight.
The unique thing about Charlie was that whenever we took outdoor pictures, he’d always sneak into the picture. Often, we never realized it until after the pictures were developed, and we’d smile. He knew he was a great part of our family.
He lived over ten years, and one day, he simply wasn’t at the house anymore. I searched for him for days, calling for him, but he never came. My father said that he thought Charlie went somewhere to die, so that we didn’t suffer the pain of loss. But, I suffered the loss anyway. I missed Charlie so much that it was years before I could allow myself to get close to another dog. Charlie had a way of giving comfort during those days when we were down.
The biggest fear he had was thunderstorms. He hated thunder and whined outside to be let in. Our father would, on occasion, allow him to come inside until the storm passed.
Of all the pets I’ve owned over the years, if I could ask for one to be returned, it would be Ol’ Charlie. He was a close companion and the most loyal dog. Dogs are unique in that their friendship is never one-sided. They give affection and sense when we hurt inside. Charlie was that way. After my parents’ divorce, Charlie became even closer to me, and to deal with an absent father, I spent more times exploring the countryside. And Charlie was there loyally, until he wasn’t. That absence hurt for quite some time. Even all these years later, I think about that old dog and the times we shared. For me, no other dog can fill that loss.
Have you ever had a pet that touched your life in such a way?