The summer before I met Bob, I met another gentleman who stole my heart. He was a homeless yellow lab. I'd started walking for fun and exercise, and one day, there he was. He was thin, friendly, and had a kingly expression. I named him Richard, and we called him Ricky. He was about 10 months old, mostly grown, but still a puppy, as evidenced by his chewing up all the rotten spindles on my parents' porch rail. He followed me home every day from my walk, and eventually he became ours.
Ricky was a good dog. Smart, quiet, faithful. After Bob and I married, Ricky stayed in the country with my parents, and after awhile we got a puppy - a Shetland Sheepdog. Ricky wasn't too fond of Scottie (Alexander Scott, so named because of his red coloring), and when we'd come to visit Ricky would take Scottie out for a walk in the woods and lose him. It was deliberate, and it worked more than once.
He'd get the remains from our neighbor's deer hunts and chew on them with great delight in the front yard. He was patient with young children and cats, and didn't protest when he was moved from Arkansas to Oklahoma. He had plenty of common sense and always knew to come home for dinner.
Ricky is the kind of dog that people would want to have. My Granny (who has had her share of troublesome dogs) says that is she gets another one, she'd want it to be like Ricky. The last couple of years he's been getting slower and fatter. He got arthritis, was nearly blind, and all but deaf, but he still enjoyed walking with my dad, and would always give a wag when spoken to. My parents have struggled with the thought of having him put down, as he has trouble with the cold and the heat.
Monday, he took that hard decision away from them. He'd gone out for a run with my sister's dog and didn't come home. For some reason he went out on the highway, and was hit by a car (he likely never saw it coming). He was 15 years old, quite aged for a lab. I'll miss him; he was a good dog.