We have inherited the best dog ever. Except we can't let Stinky hear that because we always tell him that he's the best dog ever.
And when I say we inherited him, I mean that somebody died and we ended up with him.
The two most beloved saints of our Garland church were promoted to the Church Eternal within about 18 months of each other and about a month ago the wife followed her husband. Some were amazed that Ardyce didn't follow Ron more quickly; her cancer was just as advanced as his, after all. But I think she had some things to do and she did them and then she was ready. In the end we were all of us left totally alone as orphans. We had depended on them both to be our mentors in matters both spiritual and practical. At Ron's memorial service I realized that for the first time in the 40 years I had been a member of the church I had no idea who had turned on the lights in the church. It had always been Ron. They were that dependable.
Ron, with all of his assuredness of knowing just the right way to do things, could be a bit steadfast in his insistence that his way was the only correct way to do something. The reason we loved him so much and could forgive him so often was that he was usually right. But if there was ever a soul that could be a handful for the Lord God Almighty it would be Ron Schmidt. I am sure Ron was up there making all sorts of suggestions to the Creator, "Are you really sure you want that star right there? Have you ever thought of putting it over there instead? And the Amazon river really is too long. How about ending it at Iquitos? You realize you made the avocado pit entirely too big, don't you?...." And the only person on earth who could handle him was Ardyce. So we all agreed that the 18 months that God had to deal with Ron alone in heaven was a real test of the Omnipotence if there ever was one. Our quiet little theory is that God called Ardyce home in self-defense more than anything.
And this left Waylon without a family.
Ardyce's family sent out an appeal for anyone who might be able to find a place for him at their home. It didn't look promising: he is an old dog at around 12-14 years. His file at the vet was pretty thick. He had been devoted to one elderly couple. In fact, some said they weren't even sure he could adjust to life without Ardyce. He had originally been Ron's dog but had become devoted to her.
But the minute I heard Waylon needed a home I knew I wanted him. How could you not want a dog with a name like Waylon? And how could I not want Ardyce's dog? It would be like having a part of her with me. All I had to do was convince Beaven that we needed a second dog to join our cat. But I think once he realized he would have Ron's dog he ended up feeling the same way I did.
And once we got the dog home it was like a miracle had happened in the car. The dog who got out of the car at my house in the country was not the same old dog we helped into the car back in the suburbs 90 miles before. Once he got a sniff of country air, noticed there are no fences or traffic here he became a new dog. There is a pep in his step now.
Within a couple of days Waylon became part of the pack that regularly runs between our house with our other dog (Stinky), the dogs next door (Hank the Cow Dog and Annie) and the two dogs from the place on the other side of our field (whose names I don't know except one of them killed my duck which I know for a fact because I caught it with my duck in his mouth so I call him the Duck Killer. We don't encourage our dogs to play with them but their owners are perfectly nice people.) Waylon has mastered the doggie door and comes and goes as he pleases, mostly hanging around with Stinky.
If Beaven is working outside Waylon will shadow him and watch his every move. Then every once in a while for no reason the dog will bark at Beaven and Beaven knows it's Ron's spirit at work keeping him in line. In the same way, sometimes he will walk up to me in my chair and rest his head on my knees and look deep into my eyes with a reassuring stare and I feel like it's Ardyce telling me everything is going to be OK.
For all the people who worried about how Waylon would do without Ardyce I wanted to take a video of him to show how active he is. But I found a real challenge in getting a video of him. About all I could get was about three seconds and then he was gone. Trust me when I say he seems to be content.