Monday, August 20, 2007
Farewell to a kind and clever soul
CLEVELAND, Aug. 17 -- Lily, the world's greatest dog and loyal companion to Flop and his family has died. She was 11.
The Canadian-born standard poodle was an intelligent, perceptive, reliable dog, whom Flop's mother referred to as "never wrong."
"Lily is never wrong," she said. "If she was barking at you, then her water is empty, or she needed to go outside or something else, somewhere, was amiss."
Lily was also known for her clever antics, among them a move known as "The Gator." Lily would tuck her snout under the table, leaving only her eyes above the table like an alligator waiting for a hapless swamp creature to stumble past and become lunch.
Of course, with live nutria a rarity in the Flop kitchen, Lily's tactic was to look balefully at diners until one would sneak her a morsel of people food. This gambit was known to work especially well on Flop's father, a notorious soft touch when it came to Lily.
The cause of death was believed to have been that she was 11. Experts say that age is the equivalent to being 77 in people years.
"She was 11 and a half, actually," Flop said. "She was a great dog. The greatest."
A preternaturally smart dog, Lily enjoyed punctuating chants of "Here we go, Brownies, here we go!" -- a cheer traditionally followed by woofing sounds -- with two loud barks of her own. Despite living in Ohio for almost her entire life, Lily was an avowed supporter of the University of Michigan, the alma mater of both Flop and Flop's mother. When asked if she would rather be an Ohio State fan or drop dead, Lily would lay down on her side, and occasionally demonstrate her disdain for the very idea of the question with a dismissive yelp or two.
"No wonder she was always going after [Crunk Raconteur's] shoes," Flop said. "She knew he was a total Buckeyes daywalker."
"Good girl!" Flop added.
No, Lily did not suffer fools.
Her usual response to the "pretend to throw the ball but really hold on to it" trick was to simply turn and fix the would-be thrower with an impatient stare. Games of fetch with her were invariably lost by the thrower. Once Lily felt she had retrieved the tennis ball enough (rarely more than three times), she would trot off with it to settle down for some quality tennis-ball chomping, a favorite pastime.
"She was a kind and clever soul," Flop's sister, L.N., said.
Although Grace, her younger companion, was easily duped into running between the two entrances to the kitchen by any member of Flop's family (usually him or his father). Lily would just sit and watch as the younger, less-savvy Grace worked herself into a leaping, yelping lather.
Lily also was known to send birthday cards to Flop and his sister, signed at first with pawprint, then later with an elegant, calligraphic script she taught herself one particularly long and squirrel-free Northeast Ohio winter.
Lily was the first dog companion in Flop's life. Although he never lived at home during her life, save for a couple summers in college, the two were fast friends. She used to greet him enthusiastically at the door every time he came home, whether it was from his freshman year at Michigan or after flying back from New York. One time when he returned after final exams, she got into a stash of chocolate-covered espresso beans and ran around the house all night, barking and leaping and pawing at flop's parents and sister while Flop slept soundly upstairs, oblivious to the chaos.
She also liked to lick the raspberry-scented lotion off the legs of his girlfriend, which amused Flop far more than it did his girlfriend. However, the two shared a bond that went beyond a shared interest in licking things off Flop's girlfriend.
"One time a couple years ago, I came home from my flight, and I went to my parents' computer to check something," Flop said. "While I was sitting there talking to my mom, Lily came in, sat down and looked at me. When my mom and I stopped talking to see what she was after, Lily put her paw on my knee. I don't know why she did that, but it was pretty cool. I felt like David or whomever God is touching in Michelangelo's Ceiling."
Lily's immigration to America got off to a rocky start. When Flop's father went to Toronto to pick her up, he returned through the "nothing to declare" line at U.S. Customs. But the inspector asked him: "What about the dog?"
Flop's father must have looked aghast, because the inspector noted that he was just pointing out a technicality, adding: "Don't worry, I'm not going to take your puppy."
He would have been the world's luckiest customs inspector if he had, Lily's family agreed.
The family has asked that in lieu of donations or flowers, people spend time with their own dogs or animal companions, or just go out to the dog run in the park and watch dogs and their owners enjoying life.
Lily is survived by Grace, 6.