Thirteen years ago last month, I adopted a “used” liver and white springer spaniel from the PetSmart next to the Costco here in town. When I adopted him, his name was Andy but I quickly changed it to Spider, as a tribute to my alma mater, the University of Richmond Spiders. The PetSmart from which I adopted him has since closed and Spider made his way to doggy heaven nearly six years ago. I’ve been thinking about Spider a lot recently so I thought I’d share some memories I have of him.
Spider was pretty much my only friend for the first year that I lived here. We spent lots of time hiking and going to the lake to swim. Spider would swim in the freezing Lake Tahoe water until his pink skin turned blue. Then we moved to Florida where Spider often swam in the Gulf of Mexico. He would drink salt water until he got what my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) lovingly referred to as the “soupy poopy”. The best was when the soupy poopy happened in the car.
Not long after we moved to Florida, we adopted another dog named Ralph and Spider had to begin monitoring the fun. It was crucial that Ralph not have too much fun under any circumstance. His role as Fun Monitor was one that Spider took very seriously.
Once, during a hurricane in Florida, Spider refused to go outside to go to the bathroom for like two days. Finally my husband had to take him out on a leash in the driving rain and wind just so Spider would go. This was the time that Spider pooped just as a gust of wind came along, sending the turd flying through the air. This should not be confused with all the other times that Spider’s poop stuck to his butt and he could be seen trying to run away from it as it dangled from his rear, waving two and fro as he desperately tried to get away from it.
A fact about Spider that few people knew? He invented England.
He was also independently wealthy. He drove a Bentley and also an old VW bus/truck. He never let Ralph drive anywhere because, well, Ralph is a reckless driver.
Spider was what you might call stubborn. On more than one occasion we had to leave him outside on the porch in Florida because he had caught a lizard and refused to let it go. He would just sit out there with half a lizard poking out of his mouth, drooling all over the place in the Florida heat. Finally he would swallow the lizard and come back inside. Then there were all the times he found mice in various locations and would carry them around in his mouth forever, refusing to let go of them no matter what I did. Like the lizards, he finally swallowed the mice.
Spider did not like to hunt. In fact, he hated hunting so much that when presented with a situation where he thought hunting would be taking place, Spider would either: 1. Run back to the truck and wait all day or 2. Sit down in a moving river. In January.
Once Spider farted and it smelled so bad that it woke my husband and me out of a dead sleep. That is no joke.
Spider visited more states than most people. He drove cross-country twice and made one trip up the Eastern seaboard passing through at least eighteen states in total.
When we lived in Florida our house was small so we had the dog crates set up in the living room. When Spider’s feelings were hurt (which they were more often than you might think), Spider would get into his crate and stay there. After awhile he would come back out, look around the room and sometimes decide that he wasn’t done feeling upset because he would turn around and go right back in.
That wasn’t Spider’s only way of showing that he had been wronged in some way. To show his displeasure with whatever was happening, Spider would develop different ailments in order to get the attention he felt he was due. Once he developed a limp. Another time he vomited for a week straight while my husband’s mom was watching him for us while we were out of town. As soon as I came home, he was magically better. And of course, there is everyone’s favorite; the time we went camping against Spider’s will so he had explosive diarrhea in the back of our friend’s truck. As soon as we got home, BAM, no more diarrhea. Spider was a special dog. I mean, how many dogs can will themselves to have intestinal unrest?
Spider believed that it was his God-given right to sleep on both the couch and the bed. Because it was his right, he believed that he should receive an engraved invitation to both locations. The engraved invitation had to come in the form of properly patting the couch in the proper spot, the proper number of times. And don’t you even think of patting the couch with any sarcasm because that would only cause Spider to turn away, feelings hurt, and lay down begrudgingly on the floor.
Spider was not one to back down from a fight. He didn’t start fights but he didn’t shy away from them either. He is one of the only dogs I ever saw stand up to Bad Arthur (one of Hubcap’s ((which, as a refresher, is my mom’s nickname) dogs). Bad Arthur was a mean SOB. So much so that his lifetime is often referred to in our family as “The Reign of Terror”.
Salami was Spider’s favorite food. Coming in a close second was anything else edible. One time he went out in the backyard at our first house here and came back with a fully cooked pork chop. Another time he found a cheeseburger in the middle of the road.
He was named after the University of Richmond Spiders. His middle name was Danger. He also went by Philip and, for those who knew him well, Beer Can.
Spider was a total nudge. He would scratch at the back door to be either let in or out with the force of a battering ram. He barked at every door bell that ever rang. Even after he went deaf, he would still bark at any and all hypothetical door bells. He was also loyal and loving. He was the best snuggler and didn’t even mind if you used him as a pillow. He let me dress him up in ridiculous outfits and take pictures of him with never more than a sigh. He was my first pet that I had on my own. He was a good friend and I miss him lots.