Alice was my first dog. Well, she was MY first dog. Lassie was my family's first dog. Yes, she was a collie and yes her name was Lassie but WE didn't name her. She came with the name. She was a pound dog. We had just purchased the house that we had lived in since I was three. Now our former landlord was our tenant and in those first few months we did everything we weren't allowed to do before. We got a dog. And a cat. We walked on the grass. We had cookouts with friends in the back yard. My mom went to the pound to rescue a dog and came home with the homeliest, ugliest, smelliest excuse for a dog I had ever seen. It was her last chance. If Lassie hadn't found a home by the end of that day they were going to euthanize her. So my mom brought her home. Her looks improved a bit after a couple of baths and a trip to the groomer. She was a great first dog. Obedient, loving, deathly afraid of cameras. When I moved out of my parents house and in with Andrew and his roommate they already had a dog. Spiff. Spiff ate anything that wasn't nailed down. And a few things that were. As a puppy he ate a twin mattress and a linoleum floor. He ate Andrew's checkbook and a pair of my shoes (I know I didn't lose them because I found the buckle). He ate a box of chocolate covered cherries, including the box and the cellophane wrapping. One year, he ate Thanksgiving dinner. All of it. Spiff was nice. He was dumb and playful, but he wasn't my dog. I wanted my own dog. A woman I worked with had a puppy that needed a home. I told her to meet me at the park after work and I would take her. I brought Alice home and told Andrew and Jim I had decided to get a dog. That's how they learned about Alice.
Alice and Spiff got along fairly well. Alice liked to nip at Spiff's ears. Spiff would snap and Alice would back off a bit, for a minute or two, and then the whole routine would repeat itself. Alice slept on our bed from the very first day. She failed obedience school, twice. She barked at everything that made noise, all day long. She was afraid of shadows and the sound of leaves crunching under he paws. And she licked. She licked the floor, the couch, people, other dogs, she just loved to lick. My brother thought she would make a great mob dog. Alice "The Tongue". Alice was meant to be my dog. She hated the cold. She loved to take long naps and snuggle under the blankets with me. She was my dog. She moved home with me when Andrew and I broke up for five months. She moved back with me when we got back together. She napped by my side while I studied in college. She was waiting for me when Andrew and I came home on our wedding night. She was there when we brought Bear and Tadpole home. Bear was pretty indifferent to the dogs as a baby. Tadpole LOVED Alice. He would lean over the side of his high chair and willingly hand over his wagon wheels and teether biscuits. He'd giggle uncontrollably as she licked his little hands clean. He's not crawling yet, but he can get anywhere he wants to go by rolling. And where he wanted to be was wherever Alice was. He would roll to her. She would jump up and lick his face and prance around while he kicked and squealed and tried to roll closer.
Alice lost a battle against cancer that we didn't realize she was fighting. She never once complained. Never snapped at Tadpole. Never languished on her dog bed. Never stopped barking. Never indicated that she was anything other than a slightly aging, overweight dog. She was a good dog. She was MY dog. And I miss her.