Thatcher came into my life when my now passed-on wife got her as a birthday present … way back when. At first, I wasn’t thrilled with having a dog in a New York apartment, especially one that was the runt of the litter, a fragile and frightened puppy at best.
I eventually, (ten minutes after we met) took to her and knew I would probably have my hands full with the standard walking and feeding all day while I was busy working on a book, having to stop work and tend to her while my wife was away at her job.
A Cocker Spaniel was not exactly what I would have chosen for a canine companion: not exactly a ‘man’s’ dog. How to turn her into a fierce guardian of the throne? Instinctively, I knew that was not her purpose in my life. Certainly not a lap dog, if you will, but I had no problem as she came to be that. With much TLC, Thatcher began to feel secure and I began to teach her the basic, sit, heel, stay, and come commands and definitely not dumb stuff like rollover, play dead, etc. My wife had no problem with undermining all of that and told me that ‘her’ dog was not to be treated with stern discipline. Wife went out of her way to spoil her and to keep peace in the realm; I acquiesced to a degree until I began taking her to Central Park early in the morning to keep me company while I did my workouts.
Thatcher may have sensed something, and I am sure she did, about her and me. She would sit quietly while I exercised, and then gamboled along with me through the woods, never straying more than ten feet. She responded to my commands and I would give her a treat. She would roll around on the grass, sniff flowers, and chase squirrels, being the young pup she was. She grew and developed a sense of self.
Time went on and one day she walked into a wall in the house. She stood there frozen and offered up a slight whimper. She went suddenly blind at the age of nine. I was distraught, but knew that she would be totally dependent on me. By that time my wife had passed. I continued to treat Thatcher as if nothing terrible had happened. She became terrified at the prospect of being taken for a walk and still wanting her companionship with me on my jaunts, I bought a Radio Flyer wagon, fixed it with a soft pad and a bowl of water and took her with me wherever I went. It had to be a strange sight to see a big, bald, 6’3” man walking to the park, pulling a dog in a red wagon and carrying a bokken over my shoulder. In the park, she would stay in the wagon and I would put her on the ground so she could continue to play. More time passed and eventually it was time for me to put her down. My emotions at that point were numbed. I had lost my friend and lover. Thatcher and I lived a good life.
I remember Thatcher.