In 2002, when we left for our senior year of college, we took our family dog, Sophie, with us. She was already a little old lady Shih Tzu, who preferred the company of people over dogs (see picture, with our housemate Derrick). She used to follow us from room to room, wherever we went, and preferred to be carried rather than walking herself. She was a big hit with the college crowd (one time our roommates got her stoned and she rolled around on the carpet with vertigo for an hour) and enjoyed going to parties. We used to imagine that she had the voice and personality of Angela Lansbury, and that as she sat in the corner of a room full of drunken seniors, she’d look around and begin singing, in her head, “Tale as old as time…”
It was with her that we first realized, a gay man with an attitude can take a small dog anywhere, even restaurants and grocery stores.
Sophie died yesterday at the ripe old age of 15. As anybody who has ever had a dog knows, they become a very important part of your life. We have specific childhood memories of explaining to Sophie, and our other dog Ribsy, things that we didn’t feel comfortable discussing with anybody else. It sounds absurd, but sometimes it really helped to get things out – including, as we recall, the fact that we were gay. Our dogs probably knew before anybody else did. (Oh, let’s be honest, they knew ever since that time we made them wear mittens before going out to play in the snow).
Yesterday, our big brother reminded us of an old Will Rogers quote, which we find to be quite true:
“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
We should be so lucky.