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February 19, 2013 8:58 am

MY LOUSY WORLD: Memories of a fallen friend

Written by Doug Blough

A gentleman’s handshake doesn’t mean much these days, but when Trinity dropped his treat and shook my hand that first day at the shelter, it was binding. He truly had me at “Hello.”

But 12 years later, Trinity had fallen, literally, on hard times. Needing a truck ramp for loading, often gently falling but able to slowly get up, this last year was somewhat painful to watch. But on Wednesday, Jan 16th, the falls were more frequent. From Thursday morning to Saturday when we said goodbye, he was never able to get up again.

The big guy hadn’t been able to shake hands — one of his lifetime, favorite acts — in a long time since his weakened hips wouldn’t support it. On Saturday, I lifted his big paw and shook it one last time. I had 12 wonderful years with my best friend between that first and last handshake. He never let me down once, and I know I never let him down. No regrets.

I could say Trinity was beautiful and uncommonly smart, but everyone thinks that about their own dog. I could say he was the sweetest, most special dog ever, but everyone believes that about their dog. And everyone is right — all dogs treated lovingly are beautiful, sweet and special. It’s just their nature — that whole God spelled backwards thing.

So I won’t go on about Trinity like a grandparent with a wallet full of photos. Instead, I’ll pay homage to a few of his quirkier qualities, like his maddening penchant for attracting cops at the worst possible times.

When I first brought Trinity home from the shelter where he’d languished far too long, it was only on a “foster” basis that first evening, to assure he wouldn’t clean house of all my kitties. I had permission from my next-door-neighbors who had just moved, to keep Trinity in their backyard briefly. I spent the evening over there with him, throwing a squeaky toy into a large tree in the tiny yard.

Trinity would circle, leaping each time the toy hit a branch and pounce on it when it landed. Then he’d jump on top of me where I sat on the porch and shake that squeaker in my face, just daring me to throw it again. Fast forward about six months, and I was at my beer limit for prudent driving and almost out the door of the Brass Rail, when a local lawyer asked me for a ride to the notorious Cooter Brown’s. I foolishly agreed, drank a couple more with him there, and slowly drove, ever so diligently, home.

A couple hundred yards from my townhouse, half-way up East Sheridan Hill, Trinity leans all over me, shaking that dang squeaky toy in my face. I’m laughing, repeatedly pushing him off when the flashing lights made their first appearance. The ref threw a flag for illegal motion (a sudden swerve), and Trinity saw me handcuffed for the first time.

His sense-of-direction was uncanny. I had started a roofing job clear across town, on a hidden, alley garage. Getting ready for our second trip there, I realized Trinity had gotten out the back gate overnight. I drove all over my neighborhood before calling police to be on the lookout for a big dog with mesmerizing, yellow, “wolf-eyes.”

About two hours later, from the roof I saw Trinity trotting down that alley toward me like it had been his regular routine for years. He stood looking up at me like, “Working hard, or hardly working?”

When a new, troublemaker neighbor called the cops and said Trinity had attacked a visiting, neighbor girl, an officer arrived and asked the little girl, “Did that dog bite you?” She giggled and said, “Twinity licked me.”

The busybody dog-hater and I had a terse exchange, during which Trinity hopped into the open police car door and sat patiently, watching from the drivers seat. I told the officer, “See? He’s totally innocent, yet surrendering peacefully.” The lady stormed off in a huff and peace reigned (especially after she moved).

Trinity and his widow Trina casually watched me get arrested again when I errantly thought my temporary work drivers license had gone into effect. While driving home one night, I was again at that magic spot on East Sheridan Hill, yards from home, when suddenly my truck sputtered to a stop. The gas gauge showed E, which seemed impossible since I’d gotten gas earlier.

I had to coast back down the hill and abandon my truck on the snowy berm. My usual arresting officer soon found us at home and scolded me for not having the truck off-road far enough. After a call, he informed me I had been driving under suspension, and arrested me. Only later did I realize Trinity’s big, curious nose had nudged the spare-tank lever to the other tank — the empty one I’ve never even had a key for.

There were a couple other incidents during that boozy period of my life that thankfully ended, but space limits details. Suffice to say, Trinity always seemed quite accommodating with arresting officers, yet would posture threateningly when anyone else he didn’t know approached our truck.  

I now realize Trinity just assumed that handcuffing was a sign of affection among us humans. He couldn’t have been more wrong, and he couldn’t be more missed.

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