Saturday, November 23, 2013
It took a while for me to fall in love with Otis. It was never my intention to include a dog in my life, and so welcoming an 8-week-old that had a long run ahead of him was quite the leap. Having never had a dog before, this particular one, a high-octane, smart as a whip Australian Shepherd, proved challenging. More than a year into our relationship I remained skeptical of its merits, and even its future.
Then we shared a piece of cheese together.
I was alone in the kitchen, working on a spaghetti alla carbonara. When I reached into the fridge to grab the Parmigiano-Reggiano, Otis, who had been wrecking his usual havoc elsewhere about the house, suddenly appeared at my side. He looked exceptionally curious, even for him. Busy with my cooking I patted the dog's head absently and went to his stash of cookies, but when offered one he declined. Clearly the animal's full attention was on the Reggiano and so I broke off a small piece, took a bite of it myself, an offered the rest to my handsome friend.
"You've got good taste, I'll give you that," I told Otis after we'd quietly shared our third of several small hunks of cheese, both of us on the kitchen floor by now. "Maybe there's hope for you, after all."
That was more than a dozen years — and certainly hundreds of pounds of Reggiano — ago. Otis has been at my side for all of them. I can honestly say that I have never loved another creature more.
I also cannot ever think of this cheese without thinking of him. Because no food, not one, ever pleased either of us more. Reggiano is way more than a staple around my house. It's as important as water and air. For me and for Otis both.
And so on the way over to the vet's office yesterday morning my wife and I made sure to bring along a nice big hunk of Otis's cheese. When it's my turn to go out, hopefully with loved ones helping me along, it's what I'm gonna want too.
Addio mio caro amico.