Swagger (2011-2022)

We felt so fortunate to be greeted by two cheerful furry faces every day for 12 years (4,380 mornings). Then, in a flash, they were gone. Anyone who has lived closely with pets knows the feeling. After several months, the void was too much for me to bear. I needed to be around dogs again. After speaking with the same breeder who raised Riley and Brenna, we arranged a visit to hang out with her dogs for an afternoon. Coincidentally, she was planning a litter of puppies the following spring. Still, there were several dogs on hand she had planned to keep, intending to show or use in trial competitions later. Wading in amongst that swirling, cavorting mass of Flat-coated retrievers, I felt a euphoria that lifted my spirit to the heavens.

Swagger did not stand out in that pack of ebullient flat-coats. In fact, if I am to be honest, I don’t recall paying him any notice at all. I had fixed my eye on a high-spirited young liver-colored female, but that’s a different page. As we continued to interact with the dogs, I could see that Donna was becoming emotional, memories of Riley and Brenna washing over her. Was it too soon to visit? Then, something astonishing happened. All of those dogs, and I mean every one of them, stopped. They sensed what was going on. Slowly, carefully, one dog broke away and drifted towards Donna. It was Swagger. Reaching Donna, he gently leaned against her legs, offering what comfort he could. As Donna bent down and hugged that angelic boy, I lost it. Though we didn’t intend it, Swagger went home with us on that day.

I can’t imagine a more kind-hearted, patient, or loving dog than Swagger. There was nothing he liked more than snuggling up next to us, or one of our visiting friends, on a couch or on the floor. He just wanted to be in contact with someone. Swagger was by my side at all times while writing my book. Of course, Swagger being Swagger, he often draped his head over my computer keyboard as I furiously attempted to record a thought before it evaporated from my pea brain. While I sometimes felt frustration because of the interruption, that quickly gave way to the realization that he simply wanted to be with me. He wanted to be with me. Invariably, I would save my work, close the laptop, and spend some time playing with that dear heart. God, I wish he was here, right now, draping his head over my keyboard, looking up at me with those soulful brown eyes.