I once had a dog named Muska. My then girlfriend bought him for us and we named him after my favorite skateboarder, Chad Muska. We all moved to Tacoma and our relationship ended, Muska stayed behind. I was sad about relationship, but it was the dog that I missed.
Moving back to Alabama, I did some dumb stuff. I was directionless like so many people in their mid-20s and one day I decided that the thing missing from my life was a dog. So, I went out and found Larry.
The place I got him from is hard to explain to someone who has never been in the South. It was a trailer in the woods and there were quite a few dogs running around. I remember lots of camo and these dogs were clearly bred to help with hunting. I just wanted a beagle. Dressed in my pseudo-preppy outfit from my very serious job at a furniture store, the guy knew I wasn’t going on any hunts.
“What are you gonna do, make him a yard dog?”
Well, yeah. More like a house dog, but still. I just wanted a friend to hang out with. Giving a dog a job felt dirty to me. It’d be like making your kid work in a factory. This is probably wrong, dogs probably want jobs, but it’s how I felt at the time.
I wasn’t sure which dog to pick so I went with his recommendation which boiled down to “that one has kinda long hair, never seen that before”. I gave him the money (I want to say $50, no papers), put him in my car and headed off.
The NBA was really big to me at the time and I decided to name him after my favorite player of all-time, Larry Bird. His full name would be Larry Legend and he would be my best friend. That was the plan.
Shortly after getting him, my life changed. I was staying at my mom’s boyfriend’s house and working for him at the furniture store. Then one day, I quit and moved out. There was drama at the time with me being replaced or something, but I really don’t remember or care. Larry and I went to live with my brother. Shortly after, my mom left him and she lived there too. That wasn’t exactly the best situation either so my mom ended up buying her own place and my best pal went with me to a new house.
This was peak Larry. We had a backyard with a fence that he would constantly escape. Every hole in the house I’d cover up, he’d find another one. He’d run, I’d chase and he’d come back only to escape again. My mom got a cat and Larry had a friend of his own. The cat would get on the counter and knock off food for Larry to eat. It was an annoying match made in heaven.
Most of my memories of him are from this time. How I eventually trained him to stay up way too late and sleep in. The time he peed on my pillow mattress. His crazy howling at the neighbors. Walking him in that unbearable Southern heat. Chasing him around on an almost daily basis. In retrospect, I was not a good dog trainer.
We lived here for a couple of years before I decided it was time to get the hell out of the South and head back home. I packed up my car and moved to Wisconsin with Larry taking the trip with me. He slept most of the way besides a few stops at rest stops for walks and bathroom breaks.
Once we got to my dad’s house, things changed. He didn’t really like the stairs up to my room so he didn’t sleep by me. He also liked that he would get fed earlier in the day if he stayed down there. Within a few weeks, I had moved to second or third in his pecking order.
Then I came up with the idea to move to Hawaii and he couldn’t come with. That was pretty much the end of my story with Larry. He stayed with my dad and step mom and was always there for me when I came back, but he stopped really being my dog. He was my dog that was now someone else’s dog. He would play with Nolan when he came around, but it wasn’t how you dream it would be. I wonder if it ever is.
Sometimes I felt like he remembered me, remembered our old days and the fun of his youth, but he was older now and tired. He was fat and had no energy.
When they would move to Costa Rica, he couldn’t go there either so he ended up with a new family. My stepbrother was dating a girl with kids and he went there. From everything I know he was like a puppy again with those kids. He lost a bunch of weight and he loved to play. He had a good life, the kind of life I had in mind when I got him.
Last night, I had a dream that I was chasing around a beagle. I couldn’t catch him, but it was fun. The dog’s name was Larry. When my wife left for work, I mumbled something about Larry and the dream. I woke up to start my day and looked at my phone, I had a new text from my dad.
It said that Larry died yesterday.
When Larry was just a puppy and my niece was just a little girl, she found this stitching at a flea market that she thought looked like him. It kind of does, it is definitely meant to be a beagle at least, and gave it to me as a gift. As I’ve grown older and further away from Larry, I’ve always kept it to remind me of when I had him as a best friend. This thing has come with my everywhere I’ve gone and it still hangs in my house to this day. It always will.