Of Camels And Spoon

May 25th, 2017

So we were having a family dinner a while back, a visiting brother and sister-in-law, all our kids, all their dogs and ours. Somebody dropped a piece of steak and meat-lust chaos ensued. Nora was the first to dive under the table to separate the warring dogs and emerged with a bleeding ticket to the emergency room.

I don’t believe for a second that Spoon was the culprit. I believe, like Nora, she was just trying to restore order, not add to the chaos. While technically a dog, Spoon was above that sort of thing.

She was above it all.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, May 26, 2017, and in The Memphis News, May 27-June 2, 2017

Draped Spoon III  Copy

SPOON. 2002-2017. 

We took a left off of I-55 somewhere around Coldwater and drove about ten miles through farms to our destination. There was a wooden sign with hand-painted numbers by the gravel drive. There was a Shetland pony in the yard. And emus.

And a camel.

Outside the house, seven or eight feral children were playing around a broken-down truck and chasing ducks, geese and each other. Inside, the living room was dominated by two enclosures – a large cage with two wide-eyed, loud and unhappy lemurs in it, and a big playpen holding three wheaten Scottish Terrier puppies. A wiggly male. A sleeping female.

And one female apart, considering us quietly, regally, and above all of the above.

From that beginning, we knew this relationship was not going to be ordinary. She was the third Scottie we’d had, so we named her Spoon, the Scots’ original name for the three-wood in the game they invented. She was the only dog we’ve ever had that actually watched television, barking at the dogs she saw, and at the horses – she hated horses – and at the animated bee in the Nasonex commercials. True to her name, she was the only dog – or person for that matter – that would snuggle next to me and watch golf for an entire afternoon. While our other Scottie, Putter, would wander the house, Spoon would lie at my feet while I worked. Of course, she loved everything I wrote. When she was the honorary office manager of Conaway Brown, she was steadfast comfort and a reliable smile among the wild up and downs of life in an ad agency – beloved of all of us, of our clients and suppliers, of everyone actually, with the possible exception of the carriage horses by The Peabody she barked at as she passed on her way home.

When she got liver cancer a couple of years ago, we made her a promise; she would not suffer. We kept it. Last week, wrapped in a blanket in my arms, her head in Nora’s hands, Spoon died.

Quietly, regally, and – as Nora posted on Facebook – above it all.

There are markers in our lives, as unexpected as a camel in a front yard, as indelible as the memories they write, as deep as the love they give and get. John Brooks, a golfing buddy, gets it. John’s in his seventies and he recently told me he wouldn’t get another dog until he was 82. “I’ve done the math and I figure that dog will outlive me,” he said. “Dan,” he added, his hand on my shoulder, “I can’t put another one down.”

She had a favorite chew toy, a raccoon, and the raccoon and I are sharing a drink as I write this, and Putter is wandering the house looking for Spoon. You can stop, sweetheart, we’re never going to find another one quite like her.

I’m a Memphian, and Spoon is gone. In her memory, the family asks that you bark at a horse.


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