My Best Dog Ever – Conan the Australian Shepherd
If you’ve been lucky enough to have one dog in your lifetime that you can say was the best dog ever, you are indeed a lucky human.
I had one of these guys for 9 years and it wasn’t enough, because when he died, it was a heart-breaker. And after all these years, I’m still not over it.
Let your mind drift back…1983. My ex-wife had two Australian Shepherds with blue eyes, and decided to mate them, with the promise that I’d have the pick of the litter.
We were living in very close proximity with one another and when Nell (the dog, not my ex-wife) finally went into labor I got a call, and was fortunate to be there to witness the doggie miracle.
I wound up picking a male who was adorned with a mixture of black, brown and white fur and of course the mystical blue eyes, which always caused people to think he was blind. He was an incredibly handsome beast who never failed to catch a dog-lover’s eye.
I named him Conan, which eventually became Cone. When he was old enough to come home with me, I was a little concerned that he was so frightened of being in the car. That turned out to be a joke on me, because riding in the car became one of his favorite things to do, and I took him everywhere because he was so well-mannered.
When someone with a dog in their car would pull alongside us, it wasn’t unusual for the other dog to go nuts, barking and frothing. Conan’s reaction? Didn’t faze him. He stayed amazingly calm and refused to respond, no matter how psychotic the other dog was. Cone was perfect.
I didn’t even have to deal with the chew phase. I gave him one tennis ball and that was all he needed. He was so calm it was almost scary. I never had to yell at him about anything. He always seemed to understand what I was asking him to do, or what I was saying. It was uncanny. I’ve never had a dog smarter than Cone.
His behavior when I had to take him to the vet was impeccable. The vet had a mascot cat who would stretch out on the counter and although Cone didn’t really have any experience being around cats he remained unbelievably composed. He sat quietly at my feet. The ideal dog.
Our routine when I got home from work was always the same. Cone would meet me at the door with one of his many tennis balls in his mouth (he had a bag containing about 30 of them). Without fail, he’d coax me to go outside and throw it for him so he could do the orderly doggie thing and retrieve it and then return it to me, and want to do it over and over.
Occasionally I would throw the ball so high it would bounce off the roof of our garage, and he’d leap into the air and make a spectacular catch.
Unfortunately, time caught up with Cone and we discovered at about 8 years that he had a serious arthritic problem, which rapidly got worse. Within months it was so bad he couldn’t walk anymore.
It was one of the saddest days of my life when I had to drive us to the vet and have him put to sleep, and I probably waited a bit longer than I should have because he was in agony, but I couldn’t bear to part with him.
I wish I could take some credit for his amazing behavior, but I can’t. He was just a perfectly behaved, smart-as-a-whip dog right from the beginning.
If you’re fortunate enough to wind up with a canine like Conan, be thankful, but be prepared to have your heart broken when his time is up. I’m still trying to recover all these years later. I will always miss him. Cone, you were truly the best dog ever.
Tom Brown worked as a professional musician (drums), starting in 1962 and had a regional hit with “Jezebel” by The Illusions, a surf version of Frankie Laine’s 1951 hit (available on numerous surf music compilations). Brown continued to record and play in bands until 2001, when he began work on his first book, “Summer of Love, My Ass!” Prior to this he worked as the customer service manager for almost 20 years at Rhino Entertainment. His second book, “Confessions of a Zappa Fanatic,” was published in February 2013. Due to some ill fortune Brown is currently homeless and continues to look for work.