Ian Martin and his dog Ricky. (Courtesy photo)

Ian Martin and his dog Ricky. (Courtesy photo)

Opinion: Elliot comes home

A man and his best friend.

In August 2016, I wrote a tribute to my best friend, Ricky. He changed my life in such a profound way, it helped me to cope with his loss by putting my feelings for him in writing.

It has been over two years since I lost him, and I still feel the sting of not having him in my life. We never stop missing the ones we love after we say goodbye, we just learn to appreciate the precious time we had together and look forward to the day we will be together again.

Ricky was of the canine variety and he possessed deep emotions along with a level of intelligence that consistently challenged me and made me look at life from a different perspective.

Elliot came into my life on March 30, 2017. He is a giant schnauzer, just as Ricky was. The traits of this breed are well documented and impressive. Giant schnauzers were originally bred in the Bavarian Alps of Germany during the 17th century. They were mostly involved in herding cattle to market and guarding the family farms found throughout Germany. They are extremely loyal and have a strong instinct to protect their humans. This breed is also extremely affectionate and gentle with children and the rest of their pack.

When my wife and I went to pick Elliot up at the airport, he was in his kennel, letting the airport employees know how much he disapproved of his current situation. He was shaking when I first picked him up, so I immediately put his little body to my chest and he stopped trembling within a couple of minutes.

My wife had started to cry as we approached the airport. The raw emotion of meeting our new little pup after losing our sweet boy was just too much for her. I remember thinking that she really did love Ricky every bit as much as I did.

Once in the car and on our way home, he sat in my lap as my wife drove. I will always remember what he did next because it made me feel like I just found that place I had been looking for. He looked up at me and began to kiss my face and he looked into my eyes and for a moment I thought I had my buddy Ricky back.

Our new pup settled into our home almost immediately. His little tail was wagging constantly and he started playing with his toys within minutes. Our son and daughter were waiting at the house to meet our new family member.

I knew he was a keeper when he bowed for us in front of his toys and proceeded to play with our kids. This was a favorite past time for Ricky, as he was always taking something and trying to get his family to chase him for it. Ricky was quite skilled at stealing socks, and other articles of clothing, and would then attempt to get his humans to chase him around the house in order to retrieve their undergarment. It seems that Elliot has this same quality about him — a sweet mixture of playfulness and mischievousness.

During these times of division and uncertainty, having a dog by my side has helped me to keep a positive outlook, regardless of the latest news headline.

There are so many dogs that are waiting to be rescued, so that they can help their humans and rescue them in return.

Ricky helped me through some of the toughest moments of my life, and now Elliot is here to carry on that mission. The bond between a dog and his or her human is like no other. It’s something that I cherish every day.

My dogs helped me to prepare for the most difficult experience I have ever lived through, which was the recent passing of my mom. I was extremely close to her and I must say that losing her, brought me to my knees and affected me considerably.

Elliot was with me when I lost my mom. Shortly before she passed, she told me that I needed to get another dog because she could see how much I missed my buddy, Ricky.

One day when Elliot saw me crying after my mom passed, he literally put his paw on my shoulder and tried to console me.

My mom is with us as we make our way out into the Alaska wilderness for our daily adventures. I’m so glad she was able to meet Elliot, as she was one of Ricky’s favorite humans. She was an animal lover who was blessed to have her own dog by her side when we lost her.

During this holiday season, I cherish the time I had with my mom and I continue to appreciate my canine companion for helping to give me the strength to carry on.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

• Ian Martin lives in Juneau.

• Ian Martin lives in Juneau. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.

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