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Love At First Woof
June 8 2009

The day my mother first met my now husband, Clay, she remarked: “I’m not so sure how you feel about Clay, but I sure can tell you’re crazy about his dog.” And so began a relationship of love between Clay, his loyal companion, Brownie, and me. Naturally my mother was right. My feelings for Clay developed slowly, but my love for Brownie was immediate and complete. She became my dog almost instantly.

When Clay and I met, he and Brownie had been together for nearly five years. Clay had rescued the Rhodesian Ridgeback/Pit Bull mix from an uninterested roommate. Brownie was an avid road warrior. At the mere mention of the words “road trip” she would dash to the front door, pant eagerly and wait to accompany us on a trip to anywhere – the further away the better.

Together our threesome traveled widely throughout the United States, including two cross-country journeys. It wasn’t a true road trip without our joyful canine sidekick -- her head sticking out the rear window, tongue catching the air – blissfully watching the world go by.

Last fall our devoted hound was approximately 13 years old, and while she had slowed down a bit, she still was very active. Late one evening we became concerned when we noticed that Brownie appeared very lethargic and in pain. We took her to the emergency animal hospital. We were relieved to learn that the vet believed she would be fine, but we agreed to let her stay overnight for observation.

When we received the dreaded 4 AM phone call with the news that Brownie had passed away, my heart broke. It was unfathomable that she would no longer be a part of our lives. The house was sadly quiet.

Since losing Brownie, I have spent a great deal of time reflecting on her participation in our marriage. She transformed each of us. Clay maintains that he never experienced unconditional love until forging a relationship with Brownie. He truly believes that Brownie opened his heart and prepared him to meet and marry me.

I owe a debt of gratitude to our beloved wonder dog for helping Clay make that leap. For me, she embodied pure love: no expectations, no demands. She only wanted to be loved and to be a part of us. Together we weathered some traumatic times, but my memories of Brownie are only filled with joy. I used to sign cards and letters “Love, A, B & C”; she truly was the “B” that connected “A and C” – and for that, I will always be thankful.

Adrienne Levey Johnson

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