My heart is heavy today. The Leslie nest seems painfully empty. My son Will recently returned to Boone for his sophomore year at Appalachian State. Over the summer our daughter Lauren, who spent her first year as a first grade teacher at home with Cindy and me, spread her wings and moved into her own apartment. Over the weekend Sparky moved out to canine heaven.
I called him “Little Buddy” and we had him for 15 wonderful years. He was smart, feisty and persistent. He taught us well. We knew he deserved a dog biscuit everytime he successfully did his business outside and every time some visitor would come calling. He earned additional treats by performing tricks. He could do the usual - sit, lie down and roll over and jump high over a yard stick. He had two specialty tricks - taking coins out of my hand and sneezing on command. Sparky learned tricks even faster than his uncle Barney, made famous by radio host Bob Inskeep in the 1980's.
Speaking of Barney, I dreamed last night of a place that seemed a lot like heaven. It was a very happy place. My childhood dog Sputnik was there running around playfully with Barney, Sparky and Inky who was Cindy's favorite pup growing up in Cary. I can't help but believe heaven is a lot like what I dreamed.
Saturday afternoon I cradled Sparky in my arms one last time and assured him for the 1,000th time how much I loved him and how much everyone in our family loved him. Yesterday morning Cindy awoke at 5:45A.M. That had been Sparky's wake-up time in recent months due to a growing kidney problem. Cindy missed his bark, his persistence and his wagging tail.
I wanted to share with you one of the last photographs of Sparky. It was taken on our porch in the mountains a few weeks ago. We'll miss you Little Buddy. You brought us all a great deal of joy.