New York Times
Chief was my insomnia buddy. As far as late-night companions go, you could do worse than a dog. We humans fill the sleepless void with mental anguish, constructing indexes of recriminations and future-forward panic. Dogs, anchored in the present, know no such travail. The sum total of their fixations are food, belly rubs and alerting to possible intruders. Chief and I, the worrier and the worry-free, formed a yin and yang of preoccupation. We were perfect partners.
Ever anxious in my sleeplessness, I cherished the uplift that came from the familiar circle, circle, plonk of my 100-pound, unusually tall yellow Lab throwing himself onto the checkerboard rug by my side. Devoted in the extreme, he was so determined to be near me that someone once exclaimed, “He’d crawl into the corner of your eye if he could.” I’d put aside my cares for a moment and pick up one of his great webbed paws, sniff the tough, street-blackened pads and exclaim, “Your feet smell like Fritos!” I’d tickle the divot of his belly button, or rub his velvety cutlet ears. He’d shift position, leaving behind an aureole of hair so thick it looked as if all his follicles had sneezed at once.