Yesterday was hard for everyone in my family, especially my oldest son, who got this sweet Beagle as a birthday present when he turned seven. This year my son will turn 21, and his dog has been at his side for two-thirds of his life.
Simon the Beagle had a lot of personality. He was a socially anxious dog, a voracious eater, and an endlessly affectionate family member with limpid brown eyes that could earn him forgiveness for any number of infractions.
The anxiety was evident from the start. We would take him for a walk, and he would keep looking over his shoulder to make sure we were still there. When visitors would come over, he got so nervous that he took to stealing an action figure out of my sons' toybox and chewing on it throughout the stranger's visit. When someone left the house, he would pace and moan until they returned to him.
Simon loved food, and he would follow a scent to its source with his long, complicated nose. He helped us clean leftovers and gamely ate whatever food the cats didn't want. He was our plate-polisher, and we already miss that.
Simon's affectionate nature made him always open to petting and hugging, and extended to his desire to sit close to people (often me) at all times, often leaning on human legs or lying over human feet as a way of being closer. So many things that seem to be an annoyance at the time end up being fond memories--and I suppose it's that way with people we have lost, as well.
Simon has left us with many fond memories, and he has inspired many dogs in my books, particularly P.G., the Beagle in THE GHOSTS OF LOVELY WOMEN, and Mick, the Chocolate Lab in THE BIG CHILI. In this way, he will be immortalized in text.
But he is especially alive in our hearts, today and always.