August 23, 2008.
This is my friend Kurt and Spencer, "the world's greatest doggy," as Kurt called him. That's Spencer on the left.
Spencer was a stray who haunted a deli Kurt frequented, where he was much loved by the clientele. He'd hang around politely, eyeing people's lunches, then pick out a likely candidate and gently lay his head in their lap. He was a great judge of character, and so was always rewarded with a laugh and a piece of cheese, his favorite. Spencer recognized the word cheese in at least seven languages. Seriously. Just whisper "formaggio" and you'd instantly have a smiling dog at your feet.
Worried the dog would be picked up by animal control, the deli owner encouraged Kurt to adopt him. Kurt took him home and named him after British rocker Spencer Davis. Spencer Davis should feel honored.
Spencer was the most athletic dog I've ever known, and the things he loved best were swimming and chasing sticks. And I don't mean puny little sticks; we're talking serious lumber here -- six feet long and as thick as your arm. I remember going down to the American River with Kurt and Spencer in March. In March the American River is fast and frigid with snow runoff. Kurt would find a huge log, and with both hands and a sort of discus-thrower spin, heave it out into the middle of the current. Spencer would stand at attention for a moment, triangulating, then run down the bank and jump in, swimming downstream at an angle ahead of the bobbing rushing stick, until they met in the middle, where he'd grab it and head for shore. Repeat endlessly until owner is exhausted; Spencer would hardly even breathe hard.
Then one day last year Kurt took Spencer down to the river and tossed a stick, but this time Spencer looked at the stick, then looked sadly up at Kurt, and just lay down on the shore. Six weeks later he succumbed to cancer at the age of eight.
So here's to you, Spencer; we wish we could have known you longer. You sure packed a lot of fun into your eight short years, but I'm sure you're in a place now that's full of cheese and sticks and rushing water and loving people whose arms never give out.
Whew. Sorry about the length of this caption; I got to reminiscing. But that's what photos are for, isn't it?
From Daily Picks 2008