Yesterday my best friend passed away and I cried. I was not so sad as I was glad, almost relieved that she had gone without misery. I got the news over the phone: my partner called me and said that Happy was on the floor breathing heavily and refusing to eat. I said, “she is dying, my friend’s father just died, people die, dogs die.” Yes, the best friend that I ever had was a dog. I guess it’s true what they say, dogs really are man’s best friend.
I got happy about thirteen years ago when she was just two months old. I picked her out of a litter after holding each one of the puppies. She was the only one who calmly remained in the palm of my hand as though she understood that we were meant to be together. I took her home to the new house that Apple (my partner) and I had just purchased. My wife refused to move into the house until a few months later on an auspicious day based on the calculations of feng shui. Happy slept in a box near my bed. She was kind from the beginning and kind to the end. She shared her life with me, showing me what it was to live forgiveness, live compassion and live without fear.
Once when she was about four months old, I thought that perhaps I would let her sleep on the bed. Perhaps she was lonely down there all by herself in the box. I got up the next morning to take a shower and I thought for a moment, perhaps I should let her down, perhaps she has to pee. When I came out of the shower, I said oh no. Our brand new mattress had the biggest pee stain that I had ever seen, and it’s still there to this day.
As Happy grew older, we grew together. I took vacations at times when others were still working. I almost never had anyone accompany me on my trips around the island except for Happy. She would mostly sit in the back and sometimes even jump in the front before I told her to get back. Mostly we drove in my jeep and often I would take the top off so both of us could enjoy the fresh air. While going way up in the mountains, Happy would sometimes hang way out of the jeep as though she was trying to get her body as far out as she could.
Once, I took my friend Baydon and someone else who sat in the front, up to the mountains, Xiao Baling, Gelaha hot springs. Baydon was sitting in the back with Happy while I drove us up and through the winding turns. From the driver’s seat, I asked Baydon how Happy was doing back there. He replied, where is Happy? Yes, Happy had fallen out of the jeep and as much as I was worried, I was also amazed. How could he not miss a big golden retriever who was sitting just inches away from him? I turned the jeep around and eventually found Happy ambling back down the mountain, heading for the last town that we had stopped in earlier.
Another time (or perhaps it was the same time, for as time goes by, the memories may remain, but the timelines seem to fade), we were in a deep canyon and it was dark. When we got to the river that we had to cross, Happy just decided to jump in and go for a swim. What she perhaps didn’t realize was that there were two water falls very close by. Without hesitating a moment in the pitch black darkness, I jumped into the pool of water below the first small water fall. I knew that if I didn’t catch her there, the second pool of the second very high water fall would have been almost inaccessible in the dark. Thankfully, I did catch her and from that moment on I understood to an extent the experience of parents, the dread, the worry and their biggest fear.
We would swim in ocean, the rivers and the lakes. Even in very large waves, Happy would follow me, barking from behind and insistent on saving me even though I did not require it. One time, Apple, Happy, our 5 year old niece and I went up to a river to go for a swim. I told Apple where not to go in the river and I focused my attention on making sure the little girl was safe. Then a moment came when I realized that I hadn’t checked on my wife in too many moments. I turned around to see her struggling for her life, but Happy was there intent on saving her. Poor Happy, in trying to stay afloat, Apple had been pushing Happy under the water. It took me a couple seconds to reach Apple and pull her to safety and Happy was okay, as though she had been born to save lives.
The stories here within and as me are many, but they are just memories which I am able to let go. What Happy shared with me was a life of always giving while never complaining. She was my mentor, she was my daughter, she was my best friend and yesterday she passed away. So I cry not of sadness but of joy, grateful to have received what she offered to me, a lifetime of companionship and a lifetime of joy.
Thank you Happy!