Porkchop and I didn’t always get along. But because he had been Shay’s companion for about eight years by the time her and I got together, dealing with him was the price of admission. Like his owner, Porkchop had personality to burn. For a being who weighed under twenty pounds he had a mighty gravitational pull. There were few rooms he ever entered in which he wasn’t the center of attention.
For the three years we lived together I walked him around the long Beverly block from Shay’s house almost every day. The first couple hundred steps would usually be a sprint with me huffing and puffing to keep up. Then, like a rubber band, he’d change direction and investigate the first of a dozen smelling spots along our route. We’d stop-start our way all the way back home. In the winter months, when there was salt on the sidewalks, I had to put little orange balloons on his feet to protect his paws and a sweater to keep him warm. He tolerated it until the instant his feet hit the ground; then he was ready to run.
Because I didn’t have a day-job most of those years, Porkchop and I were in the house alone a lot. You’d think he’d get used to me after awhile. But almost every time I’d get up from the table he’d start barking as if I was an intruder in the house. Little dogs can be pretty neurotic and nervous about movement in their vicinity but I couldn’t help but take it personally at times. In my darker moods or when Shay and I weren’t getting along, I’d interpret the way he looked at me as malevolent; like he was just biding his time, secure in the knowledge that I’d be gone soon enough and he could have her all to himself again.
A lot of that is projection of course. We’re always projecting feelings and motivations on those around us, be they two- or four-legged. But of course he did outlast me. He was Shay’s faithful companion for about fifteen years. Up until last weekend. He had lost his sight and hearing over the past couple years, but his tail still wagged and he still had an appetite, so Shay would make sure to keep him away from stairs and not leave him alone too much. However, in the past few weeks he had stopped recognizing her and she made the decision to put him down. I offered to be there the way I was when she had to do the same with her cat, Gustav, but she declined my offer. I understood, as we had only just begun to be friends again after little to no contact for about a year. Still, I would’ve liked to have been there to pay my respects. I raised my glass in his honor at the bar more than a couple times that night.
RIP Porkchop. You were a pistol.
p.s. I’m honored to be drawing the band during a performance of Herbie Hancock’s “Flood” LP on Wednesday, March 1st. I’ll also have a show of paintings up on the walls for the night as well. Details here.
p.p.s. I wrote more about the Raymond Pettibon show for Vol.1 Brooklyn and took my first stab at theater-reviewing for the Reader.