“Outside of a book, a dog is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” — Groucho Marx
Several readers have noticed I haven’t mentioned Bentley, my jointly owned dog, and that his name disappeared from my bio at the end of this column. A reader in Branson, Mo., wrote to ask, “What happened to your doggie?” I think a few people might have missed details of the leg injury (mine, not the dog’s) that happened last July. You cannot run and play with an active dog if you can’t even walk.
Here is a brief history of Bentley. My friend, Gina Nielsen, heard of a golden retriever whose owners had to give him up. The adoption people chose her as the best person to adopt this young dog. The problem was, not only does she work full time, but her yard is not big enough for a large active dog.
Enter me (a dog-less dog lover) who is home a lot and has a large fenced yard. Gina and I agreed to own the dog together, and for a period of time, it was the perfect arrangement. She dropped him off at my place on her way to work and picked him up on the way home. We had him checked out by Dr. Eric Brown, then bathed and groomed.
I was in dog-heaven, playing with this nearly-perfect affectionate happy dog — until a freak accident when I lost the battle carrying a heavy concrete block and tore all the ligaments in one leg.
It was a heartbreaking time, a time of terrible pain mixed in with realizing my canine buddy could no longer come here to play. Based on the fact I would be out of commission for a long time, Gina made the executive decision to do what was best for Bentley: she looked for a better home. She now believes we were a temporary conduit for him until the right “forever home” turned up, which it quickly did. He is now the companion of a special-needs teenager, in a loving home with a large yard.
In a way, I’m still grieving, and Gina is too, but we are both grownups and know the dog and his permanent person are the perfect match. At least we have a gazillion photos of him and wonderful memories of his time with us.
One of my favorites is a warm day last June, spending at least two hours trying to wear Bentley out by throwing a ratty tennis ball as far as possible for him to retrieve. Eventually, we both needed time out. He slurped up a ton of water, then sprawled on the deck in the sunshine. I took advantage of this lull by collapsing in a comfy chair with one of my favorite books, called “The Art of Racing in the Rain” — my third time reading this wonderful book by Garth Stein. I highly recommend the book, which will make you laugh and cry. It was the recent choice of the Newport Library for the annual project called Newport Reads. They try to choose a book with a Northwest author who (hopefully) will make the trip to our community when it comes time to celebrate the fact a few hundred local people are all reading the same book at the same time and are keen to hear the author come and talk about how his book came to be.
Speaking of books, I rarely promote an event that hasn’t happened yet, but I can’t resist urging all you book lovers to show up at the Newport Library (the McEntee Meeting Room) this Sunday afternoon, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., for what is being billed as an author fair. It is free to the public, and many local authors will attend with their books, happy to see you and hoping you will buy a book — a nice gift choice with Christmas coming. You might be surprised at the number of writers who live in this community. There is just something about the ocean that inspires creativity.
Now that I’m using a cane (no more wheelchair or walker) I plan to be there with copies of “Good Grief” (what I call The Burt Book). I love being able to get out and about. I had almost forgotten what fun it is when someone stops to tell me how much they love this column. I always say “thank you” and usually add how much I enjoy the writing of it, which, for me, is the best therapy. I hope you will drop by the library on Sunday and say hello.
Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock. She is the author of “Good Grief: A Collection of Stories As One Woman Journeys From Heartbreak To Healing Through Honesty and Humor” (Dancing Moon Press). The book (with all proceeds going to Rotary International) is available at JC Market in Newport and directly from Bobbie, who can be contacted at [email protected]