I write because it helps me to remember. As we get older, it’s nice to be able to have prompts or reminders of the good things we have experienced, sometimes it’s good to remember the bad times also. In looking back through all of the stories I have written and told, there is one subject in addition to my children that is always there.

And sometimes, you make the mistake of thinking it (or they) will always be there.

“It” wasn’t an “it” at all. He was my big poodle, Doolittle. In his younger years, he was always getting into things and providing entertainment. As he slowed down and his health began failing, he seemed more concerned with being with you, being there to listen and being there to look into your eyes.

Our lives won’t be the same.

If you’ve had to say good-bye to a pet that has been part of your family for a long time, you understand.

My son and I took a road trip to Tennessee about ten years ago. We were going to a farm just outside of Nashville to pick out a new Standard Poodle. I had my heart set on a “Parti,” which simply means “Particularly” colored. The breeder had a couple of black and white ones that looked beautiful in the pictures she had sent me.

We walked out to the barn with the lady to see her latest litter that were ready to go home with their new families. We studied the two little Parti colored poodles and agreed they were nice looking. However, all the time we were tromping around this barn playing with the puppies, one big clumsy looking poodle pup kept following us around.

He was not a Parti, he was solid black. To impress us, he crawled into the food bowl and sat there and smiled with his tongue hanging out. Wilson Rawls, who wrote Where the Red Fern Grows, described the feeling so well by saying, “My heart starting acting like a drunk grasshopper.”

Dogs have that effect on some people. I am one of those.

My son and I knew that was our dog.

He grew to be close to 100 pounds and was often accused of being a little overweight by the veterinarian. He was not. Doolittle (or “Dooley”) was just a very large dog, with a heart that matched his size. He loved unconditionally and was patient and kind. Again Mr. Rawls said it so perfectly when it comes to dogs, “It’s a shame that people all over the world can’t have that kind of love in their hearts,” he said. “There would be no wars, slaughter, or murder; no greed or selfishness. It would be the kind of world that God wants us to have—a wonderful world.”

In the last week of his life, Doolittle got down to around 60 pounds. It was obvious that he was dwindling fast. He had rallied so many times over the past five years, fighting problems with his liver and going through spurts where you would swear he was a puppy again. At my age, I could appreciate that and even cheered him on when he galloped and kicked up his feet in the front yard like a broncin’ buck.

Our lives won’t be the same.

Dogs give us so many wonderful memories and so much joy. My house will always be filled with the joy he gave us all. From banging on his food bowl to let us know he and his sister were ready to eat, to running up and down the stairs to greet people at the door.

He trained me well. I do not leave food on the counter or leave the bathroom door open. He managed to stand up and eat whatever he wanted that was left on the counter and had this thing for eating the cardboard tube out of toilet paper. If the pantry door was left open, his first choice was bags of soft tortillas. It didn’t matter if they were corn or whole wheat.

So many memories – wonderful memories.

Our lives won’t be the same. Our lives will be better for having spent them with a true friend who knew how to listen, console and love unconditionally.

"You were worth it, old friend, and a thousand times over.” ~ Wilson Rawls

Read more stories at www.CranksMyTractor.com.