I miss Blake as much as I’ve ever missed anyone dead. Other than Fuzzy (my dog now), Blake was the most majestic dog I’ve ever known. That majesty was expressed through his perpetual wiggle, a constant mild tremor of glee. He was the rare creature of pure good nature who I found endearing more than dull. I have a hard time getting close to people who don’t believe they contain at least some darkness, but dogs are easy to trust whatever their self conceptions may be.
Once at the shop, Lewis and I heard a story on NPR about how Spanish speakers sometimes called Corn Flakes “Corn Flah-kase,” so we started calling Blake “Blah-kase.” He didn’t mind it at all. It almost seemed to delight him. I guess that was true of almost everything in the world, though.
One of Blake’s favorite games was to have Lewis or Harrison or me stand on an empty two-liter Coke bottle while we hand-planed machine marks from an endless pile of chair parts at our workbenches. He’d stand a few feet away, crouching with his barrel chest against the cool concrete floor, and he’d just whine and whine, wagging his stumpy little tail. If you relented and let him have the bottle, he’d bat it around for a few seconds like a kitten, but inevitably he’d drop it at your foot again, and you’d absently step on the thing so his game could resume.
After Blake died--suddenly in the middle of a game of fetch with Lewis’s mother--Harrison and I made the container for his ashes. It was a mahogany box in the shape of a big dog bone. Harrison carved Blake’s name into the lid in the perfect script of a tombstone.
The shop was my first experience of home, of love, of tender masculinity, of satisfying work, and of the salvific power of friendship-love both canine and human.