He was a hero...
He was a clown...
He was a family man... (Weston and his girl, Tessa)
Our most amazing Dalmatian, Weston, has moved on. He was an anchor for this family. We're pretty devastated. I've taken it far harder than I had any reason to expect.
Weston was a member of our family for 14 years. 14 years that are pretty undescribable. It sounds silly, but Heather and I, and Shadowcatcher Imagery, would not be who we are, had he not chosen us as his people. He was our anger management counselor, dispute arbitor, class clown and photo model. He was Shadowcatcher Imagery's office manager, making sure we took time off, remembered to quit work to eat, sleep, play.
He helped Heather through some of her very toughest times, she literally would not be doing what she does without him showing her how. One time, Heather was taking photos of him in a Dalmatian Halloween mask. She couldn't get the light right to show his eyes through the eye holes of the mask. He huffed, stood up, turned around and pointed his face at the light, in precisely the right place to get the the lighting correct! He knew that it felt like when Heather had it right, and found that place...in the studio and in her heart.
He was an old soul, but pretty new at being a dog. If you threw him a ball, he'd try to catch it with his paws, not his mouth. He'd try to investigate everything. If you were hurt, he'd have to check it out. (Tears are rolling down my face as I write this next part.) He loved food, but he especially loved dairy products. He'd wait, every morning, for me to finish my bowl of cereal, so he could have the left over milk. Sometimes, he'd be upstairs, and not know I'd eaten. When he came down, he looked at the bowl on the floor, like it had appeared by magic. It killed me this morning, when I set the bowl aside but he didn't come in for it... He could hear you peal a banana from the other room, and knew he was going to get that last little bit at the bottom end.
He hated to have anything disturb his wa, a Japanese term for harmony, peace and balance. If I spoke too sharply, even to the football game on TV, he'd jump up in the chair or couch and press the side of his snout against my mouth, as if to say, "SHHHH!" He also disliked profanity, if any one dropped the "F" bomb, he'd jump up on them and try to lick their face, tail wagging furiously. He wanted everybody to be happy and calm.
All of these things started to change a couple of years ago. He had a cancerous tumor removed then, and the lethargy that had resulted from his illness lifted, for a while. But, then he stopped jumping up on the couch, and had to be lifted, at least his back legs. We always took him to McDonalds for an ice cream cone on his birthday, but this year, and the last couple, we had to lift him up into the Durango. This year, he didn't even want to sit up and look out the window as we drove. He was having trouble getting outside to do his business, sometimes waiting until too late and having an accident. Then he started to have trouble just getting up out of his bed in the office, even to come in to get the "magic bowl." When we left the house for hours at a time to work a wedding, we'd worry that he'd not be there when we got home. One night, after a wedding, we came home to find him fallen down and trapped under the dining room table. Who knows how long he'd been stuck there. The last few weeks, we had to lift him out of bed, carry him down the stairs and outside, and he cried, quietly, in pain all the time. We knew, then, it was time to let him go, but we selfishly couldn't bring ourselves to do so, until the last few days. He just laid in his bed in the office, not even wanting to move. It was time...
It's hard to put down here all the things he did that made him such a part of our lives. Things like bumping his head on tables, because the concept of "up" was a tad foreign to him. Hunting for cats out the car window, not out of malice, just purely for fun. How he knew someone was going to Starbucks, even though we were careful not to mention the name, and how irritated he was when that someone returned without any whipped cream for him. How he'd want to be part of any photoshoot that was going on, sometimes just walking in and setting down in front of the camera and the lights. How he wanted to dominate the agility field, and whined every time we passed the site. How he responded to the applause, wherever he went. He loved attention, but was free in giving it out, too.
To say that he'll be missed would be to say he's gone, but he's always going to be in our hearts, forever.