My friend's dog passed away unexpectedly last night. He was bitten by another dog in the neighborhood, infection set in, and he passed.I am basically a wreck.Smokey belonged to my teammates, Baconshark and Tits McGee. Baconshark had brought Smokey home back in 2007, with the money he'd won at that year's RPS championship. I wasn't in the picture at that point, but Smokey was clearly the Victory Dog.The next year, I tripped into the arms of a rowdy gang of jackasses more affectionately known as David Bowie's Package. After on-purposely getting drunk and accidentally winning the 2008 championship, Baconshark kindly drove me back to his house in Jersey, where I met Smokey. As I laid down on the sofa to pass out, PJ laid my giant check up against the seat, and I curled up. Hours later, I awoke to a large, skinny, furry blanket draped over me - Smokey was unwilling to share his sofa, and was sleeping on top of me like an adorable blanket. There's a picture of this, somewhere. I wish I could find it.That was the beginning, they say, of a beautiful friendship. I moved out to Colorado shortly after the season ended, and only really got to see Smokes a few times a year. He was never, of course, my dog, but in my head, he was always the team's dog, the unsung, most adorable member of The Package. Trips to Jersey almost inevitably would end up with me at the Williams-Mercer Zoo, adults ("adults") in the kitchen/dining room doing adult things (talking/yelling about loud music), while Smokes and I would curl up on the floor and make googly eyes at each other. Maybe I just made the googly eyes. He just wondered where this extra human came from, and why there were so many snuggles.
I would badger Karen for stories about her adventures with the pup, jealous that I never got to spend as much time with either of them as I ever wanted to. And she'd humor me, telling me about the songs she would make up for him while they were taking walks together, or mundane things around the neighborhood that made him skittish. I'd sit around and wonder how so much dog could fit into such a tiny frame. (Seriously, where does the dog go on greyhounds??) And Smokey would grin, and writhe around on his back, and get loved on. Because this dog loved his people, and all the people loved this dog.And so I'm sitting here at 4am, still crying, after sobbing on Jon for an hour after I heard, for this pup that I only tangentially knew, and for his people, who loved him so much. For Kevin and Karen, who are now down a best friend, and for their little one, who will never get to meet his big furry brother.There are things I want to tell you about Smokes, about his giant, kind eyes, and his adorable greyhound grin, and his endless patience for the humans (me. Others.) who insisted on his post-racing career as a pillow. But instead, I'll tell you this: David Bowie's Package rules. And so do you, Smokey. <3.