I tend to see Minor as my problem child and do frequently speak of him in those terms: "Well, Minor is just Minor."
The dog's been different from birth. I knew that. I happily accepted the added responsibility and have never regretted it.
I wrote once that he's always marched to a different drummer and that's true too. His neediness sometimes makes it harder for others to love him. One night, while reading, I stroked him just to see how long he'd last. It was way over an hour before the fatigue of standing led him to lie down.
His primary in-house activity is wanting to go out. Unless he's out in which case it's vice versa. I find I am on my toes much more than I wish. (That dog door remains a lifesaver for half the year or so.)
Many mornings I wake very slowly, gradually becoming aware that the world has grown light. It's Minor who has awakened me ever so gently, standing with his nose no more than two inches from mine. It never touches.
And it's Minor I see waiting at the glass door when I drive away. And Minor who's the first to greet me when I return (and Minor who knocks my hand away as I'm writing), so excited to have me home again. His enthusiasm is as great whether I've been gone for a week or just ten minutes. My presence makes his life complete.
It is also Minor who steps so close he keeps walking into me. It was a bruising offense when he had to wear that hated "lampshade." Now it's simply a minor annoyance that does strike me as rather eccentric. If not weird.
It is Minor who needs regular baths. Time prevents me from showering with him as often as I should though it's quite an enjoyable experience for us both. He loves getting "dried" afterwards and I can see the question in his eyes every time I selfishly use the hair dryer on myself. He loves getting toweled down after returning from a foray in the snow or rain. Going to be groomed has finally become a treat as well. (I suspect seeing how much Quillow enjoyed the attention helped change Minor's mind on this. Whatever, I'm glad.)
Because of his ichthyosis (a nasty inherited flaking skin condition, his kind exclusive to golden retrievers), he requires much brushing which in turn requires the nozzle on the handheld vacuum to pull up the mess. He thinks being "vacuumed" is great when I use the hose on him and will follow closely if I take it for use in any other part of the house.
Minor also has a proven sense of humor and likes to play and tease me. He'll roll on his back while I do my nightly exercises. I had one retriever who slept quite comfortably in that position. But it is not comfortable or easy for Minor and he can only hold it for a short time. I know he's trying to tell me how silly I look doing things equally unnatural for me. We both get a good laugh.
I am told dogs have no sense of past, present or future. There are times I might envy them for that. It's just as certain to me, however, that they Minor at least have a built-in clock. It may be based on one's stomach but I find it as accurate as any timepiece in the house. That said, he adjusts to the time changes much more readily than I.
He is also the most devoted dog I have known.
Minor was born July 8, 2008.
Five years have taught me there is nothing minor about my Minor.
Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to email@example.com.