Joey was not a good dog. Not by sitcom dog-standards anyway. He did not playfully lick children’s faces and fetch the newspaper. He did not know any tricks, and he was not a bouncy, happy little guy. No, Joey had suffered through abuse and somehow found his way into Nini’s house, where he got stressed out, had arguments with other animals and people, made some friends whom he complained about to their faces, but would defend behind their backs forever, and spent most of his time lounging about. In fact, Joey was less like a dog, and more like a person, which is maybe why it is so hard to say goodbye to him today.
When Joey first arrived, he did not like men. Women were possibly acceptable, but a male presence would send him into a fit of barking rage. We assume that this was from the abuse, but nevertheless, it was not easy to win his trust. For that very reason, it was so rewarding when he finally came around to you. I was one of the first men that he would tolerate, and then cuddle with. I remember being jealous after I moved away, because Uncle Tall Dave started hanging around with Joey more than I did, and at Christmas time my lap became second choice. Being Joey’s favorite was a hard-earned honor that one did not give up easily.
Yes, Joey bit a lot of people, this was true. I’m glad you brought that up. But mostly people who do not listen. I remember when my mother brought her new husband over to meet Joey for the first time, and we told him to be careful. “Joey doesn’t like men,” we cautioned, but to no avail. He was sure that his charms could win over any dog, and so he put his face right down next to that stressed out little canine face and then CHOMP! Right on the nose. But if you left Joey alone when he was feeling overwhelmed, he wasn’t going to bother you. Just like most of the rest of us.
Over the years, Joey finally relaxed and mellowed out a bit. At first he was completely hairless, not because he was naturally bald, but because he was just too upset to grow any hair. Oh, what a triumph and a miracle it was to see, after a few years, that hair starting to grow back. The most satisfying things in life are the things you have to work the hardest at, the things that take the longest, and the things you don’t really expect will ever happen. Nini put a lot of work and love into that dog, and the success was apparent to everyone.
Now we have to live in a world without Joey, but I think we can be happy that this little dog that nobody loved found a good home, and that he lived many, many years in a safe place, and that eventually he knew it. Wherever you are going, have a good trip, Joey. You were a crazy little dog, but you were a great friend, and a wonderful person. And whatever we did for you along the way, just know that you did as much, or more, for us.