3/30/97 - 6/8/05

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Vern is smart...

Oh what a smart boy! What do you think you had -- a 400 word vocabulary? It was something else. We could just talk to you and you'd do what we asked. But some words we couldn't say, could we? Like S-Q-U-I-R-R-E-L -- nobody dared say that unless they meant it, right? And some words, like dinner, walk, breakfast and outside we couldn't even spell. We were reduced to using the most far-fetched word choices in order to communicate. And in the absence of those words, you learned the signal words like "ready?"

And you could handle complex and compound commands, too. I could tell you "Mommy kiss Daddy go nigh-nigh" and you'd just go wait on the bed for me. Or "Go kiss Daddy" and you'd go sneak up on your Daddy sleeping on the couch and plant a big wet one right across his face.

But it wasn't just how quickly you learned tricks and such, it's really the depth of your understanding that got us.

I remember when that one man came over to discuss a business proposition with your Daddy. You didn't like him. You kept staring at his knees and quietly growling. When your Daddy stood up, you tried to herd him away from the guy. It was the only person we'd ever brought in the house you didn't like. Well, we didn't trust anyone you had that big a problem with. We later found out he was a Con Artist.

Remember that kid we used to run into at the park? This was your favorite park next to the school. A lot of kids came there to drink or do drugs or hang out. He must have been one of them, but you always liked him. Then one day we must have gotten there after he had his beer. You got wiggly and went to go say hi, smelled his breath, and jumped back away from him and barked at him. He tried it a couple times before he figured out what the problem was. He was so impressed, "That is a GOOD dog!"

Remember coming home from that park one day? You were normally such a quiet passenger, but we approached the red light to turn out of the park and onto the city streets, and you wouldn't leave your daddy alone! You wanted love and you were so insistent. It was so unusual that your daddy paid attention and was asking you about it when the light turned green. Nobody was behind us, and you were such a doll, that mommy didn't tell daddy the light was green. Imagine our surprise when that car FLEW past us. Based on how fast it was going and how long before it ran the light, It would roughly have killed your mommy, boo -- T-boning us in the passenger's side door. And in that little Datsun, there's not guarantee any of us would have made it. You never did it before and you never did it again, and as soon as that car sped through the intersection, you stopped that time. I often wonder about that day.

What about the drug dealer that lived across the street? And the meddlesome neighbor that didn't like you? And even your Matthew's Mom? You picked them out, didn't you? But the lady next door who didn't mind so much, even though you made her nervous, she was OK -- you even stopped those guys who were trying to break into her laundry room.

And you always knew when your Daddy wasn't OK, didn't you? Heck, you knew when I wasn't OK, too, it was just quieter. You could never stand to see me cry, you always had to try to fix it.

I remember your Daddy's January suicide attempt. He took too many pills. He had gone there so many times that I was starting to loose touch with the reality of it. I remember drifting off to sleep one night, exhausted, and him waking me up to tell me he'd tried to kill himself, and he'd taken too many pills, but that he was OK, and had decided not to die, and that he'd go to the hospital with me in the morning. I never woke all the way up, and so drifted back off. I woke up the next morning to find your Daddy asleep in the hall on the floor and you "guarding" him. I'm sure that's what you were doing -- your posture was exactly like that, and you were wide awake. Your Daddy later told me that he had really taken a lot and was bouncing off the walls and smacking his head in the process. You tripped him and laid down on him so he couldn't keep hurting himself. He eventually fell asleep, and I guess you must have watched him all night. What would I ever have done without you my sweet boy?

And what about your Tinkerbell? Nobody else in the house could reach that little puppy who'd been so mismanaged. You knew how to "talk" to her, and you were able to show us. I never thought much about dogs having language until I watched you tell her yes and no.

You even knew a relative when you met one! I know what the scientific explanation for that was, but you unquestionably knew Matt was family the second he walked in the door. Mike, Grandpaw, Gramma, all of them.

I miss your wisdom, Boo.