As the winter has subsided, making way for summer, my dog, Haze, has begun to enjoy the outdoors a bit more. He also has many human friends in the neighborhood. There’s an older man who sits in his beach chair in the warm months and offers him a dog treat or two. There’s a younger couple who love to see him trot by their home. The little kids wave and think he’s cute.
But Larry…Larry has been Haze’s favorite.
Larry is a much older man and he would often be in his garage working on a car or some other project and Haze would simply stop and watch him until he was noticed and then Larry would smile and say in a deep Southern drawl:
“All right, now! C’mon! Talk to me!”
And Haze would begin to bark on cue.
It’s at this point that I’d like to point out that Haze often won’t speak for me! But Larry had the dog whisperer touch.
“C’mon over here and I’ll scratch your ears a bit!”
I’d bring him over and Larry’s smile would get wider and he’d keep Haze entertained for a good while before we’d head back and conclude our walk. One day he even gave him a ride on his mini-tractor!
In the winter months, Haze isn’t as happy to walk that far and often when we do get to walk past Larry’s house, he wouldn’t be outside as much–the weather being too cold for outdoor projects.
But with the summer’s dawn, we ventured down his block and found a sign in front of Larry’s house:
Haze looked at the sign, looked at the empty garage, and somehow he knew the worst had happened.
Indeed, the old man has passed away recently.
Haze began barking a sad bark, a near howl.
Brian, one of the guys who worked with Larry, who also knows Haze, heard him barking.
“Aw, he misses Larry, huh? Yeah, buddy, me too!”
I asked about Larry and what had happened to him. A routine checkup led to a medication that he had a bad reaction to. He had a paralyzing stroke and he lasted only a few weeks.
“How old was he? He didn’t seem too old of a man and he was so active working out here.” I said.
“Well, he had two birth certificates!” Brian said.
“Of course he did!” I laughed. He was a character.
One put him at 92 and the other at 88.
Brian surmised that Larry was a vet and he probably wanted to go to war but was underaged—so he faked a birth certificate to get him into the outfit.
Indeed, a true man for others.
Today Haze stopped by Larry’s house and got very quiet. He stared a long time at that house and then looked back at me with sad eyes. We walked quietly together, praying for Larry and knowing that he had shown us much friendship for merely passing by.
And the world seems like a better place for his passing by. And so we pray for our neighbor, a hard-working man who enjoyed simple things: his home, his garden, hard word and the loyalty of a good dog.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May Larry’s soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.