This morning I said goodbye to my best friend of seventeen years, Stanley Kowlaski Gardner. Stanley had brown hair all over his body, four legs and a bark that could scare any predator.
I first met Stanley at the Glendale, California pound. I had gone there looking for a cat, but when he ran up to me and asked me to take him home, it was love at first sight.
Stanley was a playful pup. So playful, in fact, that I lost dozens of pajama pants, several pair of shoes and all the baseboards in my house.
He was a dog’s dog, masculine in every way. He bravely guarded my house and my daughter. With Stanley on the watch, our house was always free of snakes and butterflies. He loved McDonald’s hamburgers. Except for the pickle. The pickle he would nose off the bun and scoot under the microwave cart for me to clean up later.
Stanley adored my daughter, Emma. From the moment she first came home from the hospital he never left her side. Each time she messed in her diaper, he would bark at me to change it. He tried to teach her to do her business outside, but it never took. He taught Emma to laugh when she was seven months old. He would chase his tail, running in circles, and she would squeal her pleasure and clap her hands. When Emma was five years old, she dressed him in her Halloween costume. He swallowed his manly pride and allowed her to parade him around the house dressed as Snow White.
He loved cheese, hot dogs, hamburgers and popcorn.
He would hate me telling you this, but one time he chased a possum under my house and got stuck. He could’ve gotten out by backing up, but he was too scared. It took three hot dogs to convince him to back out the hole he went in. Another time he was running around the house in circles – just for the pure doggie joy of being able to run – and he smashed into the plate glass sliding door. That took four slices of American cheese to coax him out from under the gazebo so I could make sure his skull wasn’t cracked open.
He sat on my toes while I wrote a dozen plays, a dozen more screenplays and three novels. He liked to hear me read the words out loud. He never criticized. He urged me to write more, and better.
He had his own whistle call. He never failed to come running when I signaled him with his special whistle. He loved other dogs unless they came to his house. He loved to clean my ears.
He was my best friend and confidante. He listened to every problem I had and never judged me when I made a mistake. He was liberal with his advice and generous with his kisses. He was my best friend, my guard, my shoulder to lean on. I will miss him for the rest of my days.
Stanley Kowalski is survived by his wife Darla Sue Gardner, his friend Honey Bear, and his two-legged family, Layce, Saxon and Emma.
Somewhere on the Other Side is a little brown puppy, running through a meadow, chasing butterflies and barking at snakes. He eats hot dogs for lunch, hamburgers for dinner, and basks in the sun waiting for me to join him on our next adventure.