He was a best friend, wise and caring, who taught me so much without ever speaking a word. He taught many of us the value of patience, the importance of taking time out in the day to smell and eat the roses, but mostly he taught us the power of unconditional love.
His name was Reacher, he was a 170 plus pound St.Bernard who loved nothing more than to take walks, play with his jolly ball toys, his other dog pals and not so discreetly climbing on top of your lap melting into a cuddle puddle.
Perhaps the greatest gift of all was the joy Reacher brought to numerous people, whether it was through seeing in picture or in person. Even as an adult dog, he still had puppy fuzz on his head. His tongue was a bit too large for his mouth, so it always protruded. Reacher’s eyes were always a bit of a mystery, lost between the heavy folds of his face- often, I would get the question “where are his eyes?” To which the only honest response would be “no one really knows.” Needless to say with a punim like a marshmallow with a tongue, he brings about an unequivocal joy to everyone.
Reacher was not just any old dog, he was the family caretaker. It would be easy to dismiss such a large beast as just that-an animal. Reacher was a caretaker and the best therapist I’ve ever known. You could not walk past him without pausing for a moment to step into a Reacher’s world with a quick belly rub. At the end of a long day, Reacher would hoist himself up to join you on the couch, lean up against you letting out a large sigh inviting you to unwind and shake off the stress of the day.
There was a time where I experienced a situation that made the world seem frightening and overwhelming. Reacher knew this. To calm me down, he would lay on top of me and let me pet him until I was calm. Reacher gave me the gift of being able to take walks in the world without fear because I knew with him by my side that I would always be protected. This dog gave me so much without ever asking for anything. Even in his old age, he would run outside to gather his favorite jolly balls to bring in and show you. Upon coming home, he wouldn’t just wag his tail- your entrance got a whole butt wag from him.
Reacher didn’t just take care of my family; he took care of his pack. He raised a very spirited Anatolian Shepard puppy. Reacher never once growled at him when the puppy ate his precious toys. Similarly, Reacher never once growled or had an adverse reaction he was around little kids poking around his face trying to find his ever-elusive eyeballs. Reacher was patron of patience.
No matter who you were, Reacher would show you unconditional love and slobber. He was a best friend, a therapist, a mentor and a good boy. He is and forever will be one of the greatest loves of my life. I can’t ever truly capture the wonders of our Hoggy Doggie, our Reacher-Creature, our best friend. I can only hope to express my gratitude for the gift of Reacher’s friendship.
Alexis has been a part time contributor to the online website Patientworthy which is dedicated to education and awareness of rare and serious diseases. Links to articles written by Alexis: