Photo taken 17 May 2010

Browsing a new friend’s Facebook photos the other day, I came across a familiar canine shape and jacket, and excitedly ID’ed the stash of Welsh Terrier photos he had in his album. I was gratified to confirm that I called the breed correctly, but sad to hear that the dog depicted had passed years ago. From the moment I saw those pictures, I was thinking of that sweet Welshie we used to dogsit. I spewed a few thoughts about how the Welshie we knew was such a great dog and how fond I was of all similarly-shaped terriers because of this one dog…

Then I realized it was a little insensitive to use the occasion of a friend’s dead dog to ramble about some other dog that he never knew and would never know, just because they happened to be the same breed. It may have been presumptuous to assume that he would even care. So I stopped with the reminiscing.

But it just happened, you know? I couldn’t help it. The shape of that head, that coat pattern was all too familiar. The images made me want to reach out, call the dog over. Since there was nothing to touch, I used words instead.

We have been on the receiving end of memories too, even a couple times in the past few weeks. “Is that a Basenji/Shiba Inu?” a stranger will ask about one of the Bows, knowing perfectly well what’s before them. “I used to have one… He lived to be 14/16/18 years old…”

And then the wedge of silence. In their use of the past tense, a gulf opens up between their then and my now. For some reason beyond the scope of those scant details just revealed, they no longer have one of the breed now. What can I say that could possibly acknowledge that absence?

That sounds like a grand ol’ age. I hope that my dogs get to live at least as long as yours did.

This is one of those things about purebred dog ownership that I have yet to truly confront. I love both breeds, the Shiba Inu and the Basenji, because I love Bowdu and Bowpi. But when the inevitable day comes that they pass, will every similar prick-eared, curly-tailed form remind me of them? And while I could never swap them for any others of their kind, not while they’re physically accounted for here in this finite moment, would I long to do just that when they no longer have the surety of existence in this material space?

Photo taken 26 August 2009