Today the wind is roaring like a March lion, but yesterday — Super Tuesday — was a day when the sun smiled on Cambridge, drawing people out to vote and to walk around Fresh Pond Reservation without needing winter coats. Those out walking and jogging with and without dogs had an extra spring in their stride, as if the sun had momentarily melted their anxieties over the future of our democracy, the state of the economy, and the spread of a global pandemic. New England can be counted on to test our mettle with a series of false springs, and politically Super Tuesday was no exception for our hometown presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren. The day began triumphantly with the sun warming hundreds of cheering supporters who turned out to greet her at her polling place, but it ended by delivering a blast of winter in the chilly election returns from outside of Cambridge and its ring of liberal cities (Somerville, Watertown, Arlington and Belmont).
I will remember this Super Tuesday not for its unexpected sunshine or for Joe Biden’s surprising comeback, but as the day my husband and I woke to find that our dog Eddie had died beside our bed. We don’t know the cause; he had begun to seem disoriented and unwell as we went to bed, but we had no reason to think that whatever it was that ailed him would prove fatal by early morning. Born on Tax Day 2011, Eddie was almost nine, and his sudden exit from our lives leaves us sad, confused and lonely.
So much about Eddie will always be a mystery. He was not one of those uncomplicated dogs like Senator Warren’s Bailey that you can take anywhere and trust to be friendly. Photogenic as Eddie was (I lovingly documented his early cuteness on this blog), he grew up to become a “reactive” dog who was nervous around strangers and other dogs to the point where I could no longer take him to a dog park. I gave up trying to bring him on my walks at Fresh Pond once he started to refuse to even go in that direction. He set clear boundaries for our walks, but he never explained his reasons.
For Eddie, the best defense was a good offense. His bark was his warning to keep your distance, and outside he barked indiscriminately at people of all ages with and without dogs. He lunged at construction trucks, school buses and even bikes that passed too close; if I’d lost grip of his leash he’d have been run over any number of times. He barked when the doorbell rang, but once a visitor had been welcomed by a family member he settled down and sweetly accepted their pats. Mornings, he was a curly-haired lamb who snuggled with our cat in their favorite sunspot on the sofa. Evenings, he waited to eat his dinner until I was home so we could enact our ritual of me chopping some raw carrots to sprinkle on top of his food. Outside, he was hyper-vigilant, growling at holiday decorations and giving a wide berth to random objects left curbside on trash day. Indoors, he spent a good part of his time under the dining table chewing on bones, toys and and cat food cans that he pilfered from the recycling bin when we forgot to place it out of his reach. He only responded to “drop it” with the offer of a treat, and some days he even demanded a treat before he would go out for a walk. (I know, I know…he had us wrapped around his little paw.)
We Cantabrigians joke that we live in a bubble. Nationally Super Tuesday’s results left little doubt of that, and by the end of the day there few smiles among Warren’s many local supporters. The bubble had burst. If it were up to Eddie, our bubble would be hermetically sealed, a world populated only by family, a few of our close friends, and the handful of “nature dogs” he spent time with on group walks with his beloved Kip. Our neighborhood streets and sidewalks would be his alone to explore, so he could finally let his guard down without the constant threat of another dog approaching or a truck grinding its gears. The weather inside Eddie’s bubble would alternate between full sun and fresh snow, with no windy or rainy days. The yard in his bubble would feature a private swimming hole and a mud pit for wallowing on hot days. In his bubble there would be no thunderstorms or fireworks, and the newspapers and mail would be delivered silently. The front porch would be off limits to door-knocking candidates and unsolicited vendors. Every day would be Thanksgiving or Christmas because he was happiest when our entire family was gathered under one roof. We will miss him the next time we are all together and on the too-quiet days between.
A bubble wouldn’t have made Eddie immortal, and we know it’s risky to retreat into bubbles in a world that demands even greater connection and cooperation. Dogs can help pull us out of ourselves. Maybe what Eddie really needed was a dog of his own.