When I adopted him from the shelter Charlie was already six years old. The years were beginning to show on his graying muzzle. Charlie was an odd mix; he had the body and temperament of a beagle, but he was black with the ears of a lab.
At the shelter I noticed that he appeared to be more comfortable with other dogs rather than people. He was originally reluctant to accept human attention, giving a low grumble when he was given a simple pat on the head. He had a sad, wary look, which surprisingly, drew me to him.
Charlie loved being outside. A roll in the grass was always his first order of business. Nose to the ground, his “beagleness” took over as he sniffed and peed on every other blade of grass. A good walk for him was heaven. He pranced merrily with head and tail high, ears flapping even on a windless day. His whole body was joyful as his senses absorbed what nature had to offer.
I called him “the grumpy old man.” He grumbled when I tried to sit next to him and when he moved to find another cozy spot. He grumbled when I gave him a hug. But his nickname was always said with a smile.
Yes, Charlie made me smile…no, he made me laugh. Every day. That was his special gift to me. His grouchy attitude, his joyfulness, his cute graying face … made me laugh. In the four years he was with me, he learned to love and, to my delight, seek out the attention of humans. The grumble would still be there, but as an announcement that he wanted more.
I still grieve for him. But I think back to those little moments each day when he shared his gift, and it still makes me laugh.