Inside the house, Bernie never lost his puppiness. He chased the cat, and balls, and had this silly way of sleeping in his favorite chair.
Bernie was fourteen-years-old when we decided to make the move across the pond. Not only did the vet advise us not to take him because he was too old, we knew it wouldn't be the right thing for him. Bernie was not made for a big, crowded city. What to do?
That's when Dad #2 stepped in - illustrator and good friend, Mark Braught. Mark had three acres and an enormous heart. He also had Annabelle. Bernie fell in love with Annabelle.
Mark taught at Hollins University every summer, so every summer I got to see Bernie (and Annabelle and Figlet). As he got really old, his memory developed gaps, and then folded over on itself. One summer he didn't seem to know me. The next, it was as if I had just left the room and come back in. Through it all, he was loved more than I could have ever hoped for him by Mark, Annabelle, and Figlet; Stan, Me, Bootsie, and Cajun.
Bernie passed away on Thursday at the ripe old age of seventeen (round 'bouts). Life is so bittersweet, so full of joy and heartbreak side by side. I'm sad, but I also remember that hard-scrabble little puppy who was loved by so many.
I'll be looking for your wings when I get there, too, Bernie-meister.