Thursday, April 5, 2007

To Norm: We Hardly Knew Ye

Whenever my friend Richie’s dog entered the room, I liked to shout, “Norm!” as if we were all at Cheers, trying to avoid talking to Cliff at all costs. About a year later, Richie and his family of humans and animals ran off to South Dakota, leaving us to wonder how a ski bum from Jersey would fair in the prairie. As the most wholesome family we know, I missed them all, especially Norm, the dog with one ear up and one ear slightly down. The German Shepard-ish mutt Richie referred lovingly to as “Fatty,” as in marijuana cigarette, because that’s how mellow you could count on Norm to be at any given moment.

And if Normy was mellow, he was also trustworthy. You could trust him with your cat, your furniture, your newborn baby girl. The only thing you couldn’t trust Norm with was your garbage, but that was only if you left it out on the ground, and so his neighbors, understanding Norm’s predisposition toward dogitude, hung their garbage bags up on their fence posts, for example. It was no big thing; it was Norm, roaming the neighborhood—very slowly in his later years—the neighbors calling out his name as if they were all at an outdoor, block-long installation of Cheers. I could pet that guy until I lost all feeling in my hands.

We received a postcard today with Richie’s return address on the envelope. On it was a black and white picture of Norm, gently kissing Richie’s daughter, Jessie, perhaps on the day she was born. The caption read, “Norman, 1993-2007. A very good boy.”

Indeed you were, buddy. Thanks for being our friend.


Nienke said...

I didn't even know Norm and I'm sad. Thx for sharing.

JodyReale said...

My friend Richie wrote me with the real, true story of how old Norm earned his nickname, Fatty. I'm reprinting it here in the comments section with his permission.

"When we got him from the Boulder Humane Society he was full grown. He was about a year old and, according to the person who dropped him off, his owner complained how he was too hyper, too uncontrollable and ditched him in a friend's garage. Remember, we are talking about Norm being too wild -- I hope this guy never has kids. Anyway, the friend didn't want him and kept him in the garage for about a month or two while he tried to reach his shit-head of a friend to get him to come pick him up. After too much time for the friend had passed he brought him to BHS. Unfortunately, he didn't feed him much and Norm was rail thin and more mellow than even his personality dictated.

After living with us for a month or two he started to put on weight. He had obviously picked up a psychological thing with food. He liked it....a lot! Six months later he started looking a bit chubby -- healthy I am sure but much fuller than when we adopted him. So, I started calling him fatty as a term of endearment -- of health and relief (for both of us). He looked good with a few extra on right up to the end. So sad that he is gone.

I loved that boy something awful."