On October 25, 2014, I spotted baby Kemba striding happily along with Steve the Breeder in the parking lot of a Homewood Suites motel in Scarborough, Maine, near Portland. This was the rendezvous spot where I was to take possession of my 10-week-old Duck Toller puppy. The last time I’d laid eyes on the little fur ball had been six weeks earlier, when Matt and I had traveled to Nova Scotia to choose our four-week-old roly poly little cutie — the one with the green collar and the white blaze over his nose — out of his litter. The sight as I approached dog and breeder now in the
parking lot was an adorable one: Mini-Kemba couldn’t wedge himself any closer to Steve if he tried. He was, more or less, hugging the man’s sneakers! (Photo, left.)
Yet just one hour later, as I was driving down I-95 from Maine to Connecticut, Kemba — comfy and cozy in his brand-new little crate — was content as could be. For him, apparently, it was Steve who? I suppose that should have told me something.
From that point on, for the next six years, I was his guy. We did everything together. Everything. When he was still a young pup,
and hadn’t yet gotten used to the late-sleeping Herman household, we’d go to Burying Hill Beach at 5AM (in one of the coldest winters on record!) for a walk and to watch the sun come up. Moving forward, it would be the dog park. We’d also go hiking at Trout Brook or Lake Mohegan in Connecticut, or Equinox or Hapgood Pond in Vermont. We’d cross-country ski together — me gliding, Kemba romping in the snow. We’d spend hours on the ocean in Montauk, with my Duck Toller retrieving tennis balls in the waves, then surfing them back in. We even did two cross-country road trips — Westport to L.A. — just the two of us. Back home, when I’d work at my desk in my study, he’d sit alongside my chair, waiting, his eyes drilling me, ready for the next activity. If I’d so much as push my chair back an inch, he’d jump up, ready for anything. If I was only taking a short detour to another room in the house, my shadow would follow me, and settle himself comfortably, waiting for my next move.
But in mid-June, my back went out, as it sometimes does. My sciatica kicked in. I became —let’s face it — good for nothing. Carol, who heretofore in Kemba’s mind had been chopped liver, took over. She gave him his breakfast. (And lunch. And dinner.) She took him for his walk. She’d go to the beach with him, and throw balls into the waves. She’d hose him off when they got back to the house. She’d keep his bowl filled with the icy water he loves.
A few nights ago, our here at the beach in Montauk, we had a ferocious storm. Crashes of thunder! Bolts of lightning! Gusts of wind and rain so fierce it sounded like a tsunami! I heard the panting. Then, the pacing. Then, Kemba’s face peering over the edge of the bed, his paws reaching out for . . . Carol! Guess she was “his guy” now.
Beagle Man who?