The best gift I ever received (seems like ages ago, although the memory is fresh) was this little sausage of a puppy wearing a sleek shiny black coat, brown socks on his little paws, cheeks painted brown and brown-dot-eyebrows highlighting his twinkling little eyes. My sister and I named him Dax. He started out as my dog but was eventually adopted by my parents. Before Dax, my parents didn’t particularly like dogs but he won them over soon. He had a special place in his heart for my Mom.

Dax was vivacious, social and loved people. He especially loved children, revealed by the fact that he would let them pull his tail and ears and squeeze him as tight as they could. If he could bear their weight he would probably have liked to be their little pony.

Dax was also quirky, funny and intelligent. There was a particular kind of grass, which he liked to eat at times. Perhaps he did that to soothe a tummy ache or maybe to add some fiber to his diet? We had some of his medicinal grass in the balcony-garden, sitting on a plant stand beyond his reach and whenever he wanted some, he let us know. He stood in front of it and looking back and forth at the plant and whoever happened to be there, barked saying, “which part don’t you understand?” “Damn!” “Get me a few blades of grass now.”  He also made sure we were punctual about walking him. He waddled ahead and I followed, more like he was walking me:). He was gracious to the neighborhood children and Dax-lovers, always stopping to let them pet him, reciprocating but eager to get on with his walk. Patience running out, he would remind me that it was time to get moving.

He ate everything we ate including fresh fruits and veggies and had a sweet tooth – he loved chocolate! There were a couple of times when he saw or maybe smelled a bar of chocolate sitting smug out of his reach. He figured out a way and jumped hurdles to get to it. Left home by himself, he would sit on the backrest of the couch and look out the window watching the world go by, waiting in anticipation of our arrival! He had a way of making me leave my stresses and troubles at the door…

Dax always thought that our friends who dropped by to visit were there specifically to see him, or play with him rather. So right after a hurried wagging and greeting, he would run into the house and be right back out with his favorite tennis ball, proceeding to drop it in front of the guests, coaxing them to play with him. There were times when Dax couldn’t find his tennis ball (he didn’t like any other toys) and he hurriedly would grab a kitchen towel and lay it at our friends’ feet, challenging them to a game of dodge-and-tug. He sure was an eternal puppy but eventually pushing 15 human years, the ravages of a feeble aging body forced him to slow down.

My Mom was there by Dax’s side through to the end. His body started giving up on him, he slowly slipped into a comma and remained there until he took his last breath. On that last day, Mom said, he wagged his tail vigorously for a few seconds while still in a comma – maybe he was dreaming of one of us, maybe he was saying “I love you.”