Devoted, Loyal
Handsome, Obedient, Gentle
Loving, Special

Today was the day that Blake, our standard poodle, went to heaven. Our good friend, Doc Freed, would have said his passing was the final kindness. I suppose we could have gotten a little more time with Blake but that would have been for us, not him.  He was having increasing difficulty walking and would actually fall over when he arose from his bed or even as he walked across the floor. He no longer wanted to take a walk outside or play in any way.  As he sleeps by my side before Dr. Maizels, another incredible vet and friend,  arrives at our home,  I look at Blakey and wonder, how did we ever have the privilege of sharing our lives with such a splendid friend?
We got Blakey almost 10 years ago when he was 4 years old. Fate brought him to us. I was teaching a class at Goucher when one of my students got a call to come get Blake because his owner was going to jail. Blake had been found in a house with many animals in cages and even dead horses. He was starved and didn't look much like a poodle. But Amy said, “I just wish I knew someone who would enjoy walking with him.” And thus began our life together. It was love at first sight for both Blake and I .
My friend, Karen, was afraid for our sheltie, Dorsey, but quickly agreed that maybe she would be less anxious if we called our new dog, Blakey, instead of Blake, the name he had already been given. Karen soon grew to love Blakey as did everyone he met.
We walked and walked and walked and particularly enjoyed letting him run free in the woods where he would never stray far from our side. He became the gentlest dog, who never wanted to fight. He loved all children even very little ones and would tolerate them doing anything to him.  Blakey always got excited when the grandchildren came and that gave Payton, our grandson, practice in dog training, down command. Payton would practice and practice how he would calm Blake before that boy even entered the house.
Friends marveled that Blake listened so well and would even retreat to his bed if asked to when the house was full of people and good food.  Guest could walk around him and even over him, it never phased him. He obediently stayed from under foot. However, when he was younger Blakey might jump unexpectantly into a guest’s lap. Blake was always allowed on the furniture. I image that might be annoying to some but we found it endearing.
I suppose every dog has something that causes problems and I will never forget how this tall poodle would, when left alone, wouldscavenger hunt the house for any piece of food left within reach (His reach was enormous. He could even get food from the sink or open the trash can drawer in the kitchen.) We adapted but many caregivers did not and came home to a huge mess after leaving out even a loaf of bread. Once he even took my friend, Susan, mother’s ashes. (She was visiting and a guest in our home before the funeral) None of this mischief ever occurred unless Blake was left alone, never any transgressions while we were in the house and I suppose that is part of the decision I made today. The older he became the more miserable he was when left in the house alone.
I always thought Blake would have been an excellent service dog. He was happiest when he was by my side and never understood why he could not go everywhere I went. Recently when I was at a conference in Florida, Paul stayed home to watch Blake.  Paul did a fantastic job of keeping Blake happy but he told me that every night after dinner Blake would stand for long periods of time staring at the door waiting for me to come home. That kind of devotion never made me happy. I knew my absence was very hard on this devoted animal.  
Now this good friend will go to my mother in heaven, the person who taught me to care for all animals. the one I am sure God has entrusted to keep all our pets until we meet again. This time there will be no more dogs for me for a long while. This will be the first time since before I was 10 years old without a dog.  Rest in peace, dear Blake.