Anyone who is at all familiar with me knows that I love all animals. Not one passes from my life without grief, but a few have chosen me as their companion and their passings leave a larger void.
Seventeen years ago, I decided that it was time for my two sons, the oldest of whom was around three, to have a dog. I started watching the newspaper for a mixed breed, something with the intelligence and energy of a cattle dog and the sweet disposition of a golden retriever. One day, an ad appeared for Golden Retriever and Australian Shepherd puppies. I jumped in our truck with my mother and sons and drove straight to the address listed. There, I saw the mother, a small Golden Retriever, and her litter. I took one look at a male pup with a big patch of blue merle on his side that said Australian Shepherd to me, and the decision was made. I had no idea that $50 was getting me a companion who would shadow my every step outside for the next 17 years.
Because my younger son was just learning to talk and could just get out the word “doggie,” our new boy was promptly named “Augie.” As with any healthy puppy, he grew quickly. Strangely, however, his legs never did. He had the body and head of a golden retriever, but the impossibly short legs of a corgi and Queensland heeler. So much for the mysterious Australian Shepherd father. And we never visited a new vet without seeing a quizzical expression, followed the question, “And. . . what is Augie’s breed??”
Short legs never stopped him, though. He had no problem following me everywhere. And when he had to deal with appearance of a high-falutin, sleek, long-legged, purebred Border Collie who joined our family in the last few years, he handled it with great aplomb. Whenever possible, he took the tennis balls she obsessed over and buried them with his nose so she couldn’t find them. You could actually see a sparkle in his eye when he knew he had found one. He also had the truly uncanny ability to hide gardening gloves. . . .but only right-handed ones. We have never been able to figure out how he knew the difference.
Augie, my little buddy, you may have been small, but the hole you leave is vast. You will be missed.