I had been thinking about getting a dog for awhile. One day back in 1999, I went to the printer to check a press proof of a Michelle Malone poster (I am a graphic designer)… Someone there had rescued two 7-week old puppies that had been abandoned near her home and she had brought them to work. How could someone abandon them?! Don’t get me started… One was a black female with a white line down the top of her head and the other, a little brown peanut of a boy that they were calling TR Digidog. They were both adorable. Needless to say, TR Digidog went home with me. I renamed him Walter after my grandfather Milton. I find Milton a little bit hard to pronounce… so I chose another old man sounding name in homage to my grandfather Milton. It makes sense to me and he never complained and that’s really all that matters. I figured if this peanut got really big (as his paws indicated) I’d call him Wally. Turns out he got huge, 80lbs, but he wasn’t a Wally. He was Walter, The Walnut, The Walrus, The Wallabee. He was an old soul, like an old man in a dog suit, and he was my constant companion for 14 years.
We did everything together. He traveled with me just about everywhere I went. We even crossed the Mile High Swing Bridge together at Grandfather Mountain. He taught me to slow down, have fun, have patience, that fat free cheese is inedible and to enjoy a turkey meatloaf now and again. I taught him to shake, play catch, speak and to sing on command. It looked like he was trying to whistle. Sometimes he’d get it out and sing oooooooooooh. Other times he pushed air. I’m really not sure which was cuter.
We were like an old married couple. I took care of him when he was sick, when he was injured (he was a bit of a klutz) and when he got old. He took care of me, too, sensitive to my every mood. His last year was hard on all of us as he got weaker and less mobile nearing 14 years.
A friend pulled a Tarot card that said Walter was my guardian angel. I think it’s true. He passed Memorial Day weekend 2013 which seems fitting as he will always be remembered. Jasper and I really miss him, but I am grateful for those 14 years.