Memories don’t fade so much as they lose their blunt edges. They become a formless shape, wherein some details are easily recalled while others go in and out, sometimes recalled and sometimes lost for months, maybe forever.
I don’t have a sharp memory of most of my teenage years. They’re not lost, they’re just hazy. A time that may as well have been a century ago, even though it doesn’t feel that way.
Some memories really stick with us, though. I’ll never forget the person that kept me going through some dark times, kept me laughing through the better ones and was my constant, loving companion.
He wasn’t a person at all.
Tagg was a miniature schnauzer. He was quite the paradox, ugly as sin to some and adorable to others in the way only dogs and infants can.
When my parents first got him, I was not yet a teenager. I was a kid that never stopped being happy, and Tagg joined in my happy little adventures from day one.
I didn’t even care that I had a mild allergy toward him. We’d play for ours with something as simple as a blanket or a chew toy. I’d break out, itch all over, it didn’t matter. He was my best friend, and those were small sacrifices.
He wasn’t my best friend because of the good times we enjoyed together. He earned that title through the bad.
Whatever happened, he would be there. When young love turned to young heartbreak, he was there. When I got hurt, he was there. When I needed to talk, he was the best listener. A boy and his dog.
My friends didn’t think much of him. He was a pest, needing attention and always barking at them. I remember feeling bad because I thought it was funny that he nipped my grandmother on Thanksgiving. Too many people around a dog that wasn’t that sociable. We were a perfect fit.
He died a couple years after I moved away from my parents house. He had been in ill health for a while, and one day he went outside and just never came back home. He wouldn’t have stayed with anyone else, so I knew he was well and truly gone.
I still think about Tagg from time to time. I’ll go months without doing it, until one day he’s just there. It almost always happens when I wish there was a friend I could talk to, somebody that could share in the darkest parts of my life and help me feel better.
If only dogs could live forever. So many of them have earned it.
He was a great dog.. I’ve got friends that I’ve called family. I’ve had family that I love. None of them had the companionship, the respect and the love I had for that dumb mutt.
Many of us were fortunate to have a family pet growing up. None of them were my Tagg, but I’d wager that, like me, you still think about them from time to time. That those memories will never fully disappear, because it’s hard to forget about your best friend.
Me? I wish mine was here right now. I could get another dog. I could get another one that looked just like him.
But it wouldn’t be the same.
I miss that dog. Sure he was just a pet. He didn’t know about my problems, he didn’t understand even the simplest things. Mostly, his life was eating, sleeping and running free. He would have made a bad person.
However, if all lives are measured by their impact on others, by the way they affect the people around them, then I suppose he would have made one of the best people I’ve ever met. That’s this week’s small victory. I miss you buddy.
(JESSE JONES is the editor of The Eagle Post, a member of the New Era Media Group. Email email@example.com to tell him about your family pet.)