I'm going to miss Heidi.
Heidi was my brother and sister-in-law's dog. I never learned her breed. I always thought she looked just like a small deer. So whatever that breed is, that's what she was.
What matters, at least from my standpoint, is that Heidi made me a dog lover.
I went damn near fifty years not really caring about dogs, one way or the other. Cats, I couldn't stand. Cats made me nervous and I didn't like to be nervous. Dogs didn't bother me. I never cared all that much about them, but they didn't make me nervous so...they didn't bother me.
Well, a couple of dogs made me nervous. One German Shepherd on my old paper route made delivering the Globe on Sidney Street a walk in Hell on a daily basis. But dogs in general--they were okay.
Then Heidi moved in downstairs on Andrews Street, and it didn't take long before I knew what they meant when they would talk about man's best friend.
Heidi had a terrifically mild and friendly temperament.
Unless you were a guy with a beard, or a guy smoking cigarettes.
Those guys would piss her off.
And if you were a bearded guy smoking a cigarette--head for the hills!
But with us, with the family, with friends, with neighbors, Heidi was a sweetie.
I was fortunate enough to dog sit for Heidi a few times, and just the notion of allowing a dog to be in my apartment when I was SLEEPING was proof that I had taken the leap into canine-appreciation land. My favorite moment when taking care of her was when it was time for a walk. All I had to do was reach for the long leash and she'd be leaping up and down like a 37-year old single bridesmaid going after the bouquet. After I held her down to link the leash, she'd lead me to the front or back door, lean up against it, panting with anticipation, and then we'd hit the yard or the sidewalk and get a breath of air. Loved doing that with Heidi.
Heidi was something of an apartment building explorer. Both my mother and I, at different times and in different apartments, woke to Heidi staring us in the face, first thing in the morning. She had found her way downstairs to my mother's apartment, and upstairs to mine, and seemed damned pleased that she'd done it.
Heidi knew me. Heidi knew I liked her, and she'd always come to greet me when I'd visit the downstairs apartment on Andrews Street or the house in Derry. But, after a couple of vain attempts on her part to get me to allow her to lick my face or my hand, she learned, she knew, that this is something that just wasn't going to happen with Uncle Jack. It was a tacit understanding between us, and, after about a month or so, when she'd greet me, she would never reach out in that way again. And it was fine.
Heidi has been sick, and she went away tonight.
I am forever grateful to Jim and Tracie, who took such good care of her, and to Heidi herself, for opening up her world to me.
So long, Heidi.
You did a very good job.