12 years ago, I got a puppy.
He was a good puppy, from a friend who bred border collies. He would be good with the kids, I thought. Everyone should have a dog growing up.
I named him for the lead singer of Incubus, because it felt right. I am very particular about naming my pets, and unless they come pre-named, I usually wait to see what name fits. In his case, “Brandon” stuck.
As he grew, we realized he wasn’t going to be a typical border collie.
He was sweet, gentle, playful, and nowhere near as neurotic as the breed is normally. And he was also BIG. Bigger than anyone else in his family. And he loved me, and he loved my kids, and he loved my (now ex-)wife.
When I got divorced, Brandon stayed with me. We were buds, and we hung out together at home. He took care of the other animals, and made sure I was where I was supposed to be. Frankly. he kept me sane during one of the roughest periods of my life.
Even after a year or so of just us, he came to accept Ursula as part of my life, and while he never respected her as much as he had me, I know he came to love her. Or at least, like her well enough.
Sometimes we think of our pets as family. Children even. Sometimes we get really lucky and get a good companion. It isn’t often that we get a best friend.
I hit the jackpot.
Today, after a period of decline and illness, Brandon left us. He was a good dog. Hell, he was the best dog, and I’ll never have another like him. There have been and will be tears over the next several days and weeks. The children are holding up better than I am, which I expected a little.
Tonight though, please raise a glass for my Brandon, the best dog ever. May we all get so lucky at least once.