I have written from time to time about some of the dogs in my life, from "my" dog, Jiggs, to our current dachshund, Wiener. But somehow I seem to have neglected Berkeley's story.
Berkeley, though named for the British philosopher Bishop Berkeley, was not a philosopher, or at least he never discussed such things with me. We did, however, pronounce his name even as the stalwart Brit pronounced his, and thus it was that people, even his vet, when writing his name usually wrote "Barkley."
Ellie carried her lunch, traditionalist, in a brown paper bag. As Springtime approached and the southern breezes wafted comfort into our surroundings, she would take her little sack outside and sit on the bench near the natatorium to partake of her sustenance.
A dog found her there. And she shared her lunch with him. He returned the next day, and that evening Ellie told me she would like for me to meet her lunch companion if I could get free for a couple of minutes. I saw what was coming. The next day I met the animal, and that evening he went home with us.
Berkeley, as we soon named him, was one hundred pounds of beautiful golden retriever. He did not appear to be the typical underfed stray. He was very well trained, eager to please, and completely house-broken. We went to some lengths to find the dog's home, even advertising in the newspaper. We got one response from a lady who told us the creature was not hers, but she had been feeding it in her back yard for a while. She, too, had tried to find its home. She did not desire to keep him. Berkeley was now our dog.
Some of Berkeley's behaviors helped us develop a narrative as to why such a beast would be wandering, unclaimed. We discovered soon enough that gunfire or even firecrackers sent him scurrying, terrified, for cover. We pictured this. Berkeley was a retriever, after all, a sporting breed. Someone had acquired the pup, trained and nurtured him. Then came the day he would be taught to hunt. And when the time came for gunfire, the hopeful hunter discovered the dog's fatal flaw. Well, it could have been fatal, but our Nimrod had a bit of a soft spot in his little heart, so he transported the dog to unfamiliar territory, told him he was on his own and released him. This, we imagine, is how Berkeley became a valued member of our household.
I found the picture of Berkeley, and on the same page of the album I found a picture of Pig and Duck. Remember the story of the pig that taught the duck to swim?