Some of you may wonder why I seem to be so philosophical and emotional about the loss of a dog. After all, dogs are not people. They really can't love back the way people do. Their brains don't work that way, science tells us. They are all about the pack and they will forget the weak in a heartbeat in order to survive. So says Science. And then, there's Canucu.
Canucu was born into a pack on the beaches of Aruba. Sounds like an ideal life for a dog, but dogs are looked upon as a nuisance, at best, and as vermin in Aruba, where hotel workers are instructed to make sure the dogs do not bother the tourists and that they absolutely don't come around looking for food. This explains Nookie's lifelong fear of brooms, I guess.
He was discovered by a friend and co-worker of mine, Louise Lock, an attorney working for Peter Angelos's law firm in Baltimore in the 1990s. My grandmother had just passed away and I was living alone in an apartment near Towson. About six months earlier, Louse and her husband, John, had travelled to Aruba on vacation. That is when they met Nookie.
He was thin, weak, and sickly. He had no fur. No energy. And yet, the other dogs in the pack would bring Nookie food. That's right, they brought the sick dog food. And Nookie's disposition was so gentle and sweet, that Louise and John fell in love with him.
After unsuccessfully attempting to get a taxi driver to take them to a veterinary hospital with Nookie in the car, they found out from a hotel worker that there was a young, renegade vet who would come out to the beach to see Nookie. That vet came out, took him back to the hospital and nursed him back to health. Six months later, Nookie had fur and a clean bill of health and was ready to fly to the U.S. where Louise would meet him. She began circulating pictures of Nookie to anyone who might want to adopt him. I tried to get my mom to take him, but she said no way. She already had a dog and the cats Id brought into her home without permission.
Weeks went by and Nookie lived at the vet, happy just to be alive, but needing a home. I agreed to "visit" him and then to "take him home for a two week trial". The vet estimated him to be four years of age. I dont know how anyone would have been able to resist this dog. His eyes showed his soul was not new. He had a warmth and peacefulness about him that was unmistakable. And everywhere we went together, which was everywhere, people fell in love with him and his gorgeous, shiny coat.
Nookie knew I was pregnant with Ian before I did. He was stuck at my side for ten weeks before I found out I was carrying a new life. I wondered if he was sick. He probably wondered why I was surprised he was being so protective of me. Nookie followed me to Pittsburgh, then New York, then "retired" to my parents' home when his age started showing. He lived to be nineteen years old. Yes, nineteen.
Nookie had some really bad dental problems as a result of his early years of malnutrition and disease. He was the only dog the tech at his vet knew who didnt require anesthesia for intensive and sometimes painful teeth cleaning. He was just that gentle and calm. I could go on and on about Nookie's gentle spirit, but it would not come close to doing him justice.
So, at nineteen, unable to see, with two back legs that no longer worked and arthritis pain, Nookie left us on Monday, May 1st. We gathered around him and petted and loved him the way we did all his life, and I made sure that the last thing he heard on this plane was "You're a good, good boy, Nookie. I love you."
He was a good, good boy. The best boy, in my opinion. And I will always love him.