Someone once said that Calvin was an iconic character more at home in a Steinbeck novel than real life. He was supposed to stay for the weekend and ended up being in my life for many years, although he spent more of his life with my ex-wife’s family than mine. He loved deeply and unreservedly; even years after he moved on to Desiree’s he would be apoplectic with joy when I visited. he would insist on curling in my lap (he was quite tall to be a lap dog but he mad it work) and lick my face.
When I picked him up from the rescue place because one of the other dogs was trying to kill him I brought a kennel because Tristan ,then 10, was with me and I knew nothing about the dog. Within ten minutes Calvin was out of the Kennel and calmly sitting on the back bench of the VW bus as we drove home. He looked like he had been there forever. And pretty much everywhere we went together after that it was the same; he was invited in homes, churches and cafes over the years. People who hated dogs liked him. He had a gentle soul and people took to him easily.
Yesterday he died quite suddenly and I was unable to say good-bye as I would have liked. So instead I sat on my porch and thought of those particularly Calvin moments:
I picked up some Brazilian hitch-hikers on Mount Hood one weekend. They huddled in the back and Calvin was put in the far back, where stayed for about two minutes before climbing in between the teens. One of them asked me what my dog’s name was, and I told her; ” Calvin. You do not give a girl the tongue unless she asks for it.” she said. She didn’t sound upset and was charmed by him even after he licked the inside of her mouth.
He was a great frisbee dog and we would spend hours at the park. Long, lean, graceful he would anticipate the arc of the frisbee and get ahead of it. His favorites were the high, slow throws that would pause before descending. Really when I think of Calvin that is the picture; the disc suspended, the dog frozen with intent, one paw lifted waiting to change course. He could fetch until your arm was tired, until your eleven year old son was tired, until his feet hurt.
Faced with a much larger dominant wolf-hybrid, he kept losing until she gave up and befriended him.
Oh and that time he ate an entire pie at Thanksgiving and then vomited next to the table just as we were about to eat. That’s a classic story in our house.
I could use him to get my son out of bed; if I asked him “where is Tristan?” he would keep looking until he found him (in bed) get under the covers and annoy my teen awake. One time I did this when Tristan wasn’t at my house and he was so upset I had to drive him across town to my ex wife’s to see my son.
The funny thing is that everyone who knew him had a story like that; he was indeed larger than life; the archetype of the loyal companion and friend. But he wasn’t just my dog or my friend; he loved loved loved everyone, every day, all day. But really he loved my son best. He was the perfect dog for a boy and I am glad he came into our lives when he did.
Sorry I couldn’t make it there to Portland in time buddy; I would have if I could.