Saturday, September 22, 2001

The Great And Mighty Hoover

The Great And Mighty Hoover died Friday afternoon (September 21, 2001).

His tremendous spirit and that wonderful heart of his were just no match for joint problems and cancer.

Hoover and I shared and celebrated the same birthday of December 5th, this December would have been his 9th birthday.

When my wife and I hug, Hoover would stand up on his hind legs and join in, he always wanted to be included.

My wife gets out of bed earlier than I do and as soon as she left the bedroom, Hoover would come in, get on the bed and lay his head next to mine on the pillow. He never woke me up, he just would lay down like he was human with his head on the pillow and sleep next to me.

Hoover was not very tall and so to pet him or rub his head you needed to squat down. If you did this he would lower his head and press the top of his head into your chest and then lean into it. This became known as a Hoover hug. Once while we were at the doctor's for a vaccination shot I was trying to comfort him and get him to calm down so the Doc could give him a shot. I asked Hoover to give me a Hoover hug so that I might have better control of him. The doctor asked what that was and when I explained and Hoover demonstrated, the poor doctor got so tickled at this he was unable to proceed for several minutes.

A few years ago my sister, with her husband and two small children came to visit. This was the first time Hoover had met any of these people but he wasted no time in making friends. He never does. My nephew was just a toddler at the time and he and Hoover stood pretty much eye to eye in height. Justin was standing in front of Hoover munching on some snacks when he held out a snack and gently put it in Hoover's mouth. We all watched in wonder as Justin then just as easily reached in and took it back. Hoover never moved, he just calmly accepted whatever his new friend wanted to do.

Hoover loved everyone he ever met, with the possible exception of a couple of salesmen at work. Everywhere we went he was always on the lookout for someone new to visit with. When he went to work with me he would go around and say hello to everyone he could find before crawling under the desk to sleep on my feet. If we went to the park he would gladly welcome groups of small children rubbing and patting him for as long as they wanted. I never saw a child who was afraid to come right up and start petting. His entire being radiated warmth and love to the point that even small children knew they had nothing to fear and so they would run right over and pet the little puppy. They always called him a puppy, he looked like a puppy his whole life.

Hoover loved to play with anyone that was willing but he did have a favorite playmate. My buddy Marty worked with me in Alabama when we first got Hoover and they hit it off from the first day they met. When it comes to a just plain love of life and hearts the size of their bodies, Marty and Hoover are made from the same mold. Hoover and Marty played hard, so hard you thought they were going to hurt each other but they never did. When we moved to Nebraska, Marty and his wife moved with us. While Marty and I were busy building a TV station, Hoover would go to work with us every day and always had his favorite playmate handy. I know that a couple years later when Marty returned to Alabama, Hoover took it as hard as I did. We both had to make do without our favorite buddy.

He loved to go for a ride and it did not matter where we went, across the country or just to the office, the passenger seat of my truck was Hoover's seat. I could not tell you how many miles that Hoover traveled with me but to say it was thousands. Many more than you would expect of one truck or one dog.

Hoover loved to go for a walk so much that if I simply opened the drawer where his leash was kept it would result it what has come to be known as the "happy dance of joy". Once the "happy dance of joy" has begun there is no other option but to take him for a walk, whether that was your plan or not.

Hoover has his own chair. Some dogs have a doggy bed, Hoover has a recliner. When Hoover came to live with us the furniture from our previous home would not fit in our new house. One of the recliners was put in the second bedroom that I used as an office next to my desk. Hoover would sleep in this chair next to me while I worked and the chair has remained his ever since.

I can not explain the bond that I had with Hoover or how I knew what he needed or how he knew what I needed. We just understood each other.

My heart is broken.

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