What Davis said about me on Wednesday is correct and it’s something I’ve learned to accept about myself: I am very brave. Some of you don’t know this about me, as it’s not something I like to talk about. I get it: I did some things that the Bangladeshi news media and Senator Hatch deemed “heroic,” but those refugee children needed my help, and killing a tiger with a pen and a turban is easier than you might think. So let’s move on and take the advice of the axiom I created and live my life by:
The past has PASSED, the future is NEAR, so view today as a PRESENT (as in Christmas present), and the present will be CLEAR.
Kind of like footprints in the sand.
But there was someone who was braver even than I. Her name was Glory. And before Reba came into my life, Glory was my soul mate and companion. She was beautifully built, with big moist eyes that even the most hardened man could get lost in. Glory B. Bell was the best dog to ever roam the wild foothills of Farmington, Utah.
I have always loved animals, and I always wanted a dog. During my toddler years my family owned a tiny, fluffy mutt named Cuddles (you’re seeing a pattern in great dog names here aren’t you), but the Folks sent Cuddles away while my oldest brother—Cuddles main proprietor—was away on a week-long scout camp. True story.
“I’m home from that awful scout camp you made me go on. Great to be back. Where’s my best friend in whole wide world, Cuddles?”
“Cuddles? I have no idea who you’re talking about. No one named Cuddles lives here presently. Welcome home. Now go weed your 7 acre section.”
I was probably 4 when Cuddles was basically snuck out of the house with a bag over his head in the middle of the night. And for the next 7 years I begged my mom to let me have a dog. She hated dogs. They ruined everything and smelled bad, and she knew she would end up being the caretaker. But I never gave up. I begged and whined and petitioned and promised. She gave in. So one day a lesbian couple came to the house to show us a dog they had saved from the pound but didn’t have enough room to keep long term. The dog’s name was Casey. She was gorgeous. A brindle Boxer. You might reasonably have qualms with their utilitarian faces, but if Michealangelo was commissioned to dream up a dog’s ideal form and put it to marble, I think it would resemble the Boxer’s, with that strikingly powerful neck and chest tapering into one of the most graceful hindquarters found in the natural world.
It was love at first sight between Casey and I. We re-named her Athena (which I’m sure came from the young nerd, Ryan), but she wasn’t smart enough to remember that. So someone suggested Glory and that stuck. Glory and I were virtually inseparable. She slept on my bed, we peed together every morning and night in her usual “potty” spot outside our house, and we spent a lot of time at the river and in the mountains.
A few months after adopting Glory, my mom was fed up with her slow potty training, and told us that the next accident would get her sent back to her last owners. During this anxious time, one night we returned from grandparents visits in Ogden. Davis and I went downstairs and saw a big dump waiting for us on the carpet. Panic. We were hurriedly discussing what to do when we heard my mom’s footsteps upstairs. She was coming our way.
Davis: “There’s no time, just grab it and follow me!”
Me: “Grab it?!?”
Davis: “Just do it!”
Davis grabbed half the pile with his naked hand, and I retrieved the second half. The ultimate test of pure love. We ran it to the toilet and Mother was none the wiser. She probably smelled something but the proof was halfway to the sewage treatment plant in Roy.
But inevitably, Glory did it again and was caught. It was the last straw. Glory was being shipped off the next morning. Tears, rage, confusion. Again, Davis showed brilliant tactical facility by organizing a spiritual fast. He, Eliza, and I would fast that Mother’s heart would be softened and Glory would be spared. Guess what happened when the woman who had taught us the power of fasting all those years got wind of our fast? Glory stayed.
Glory was friend to all humanity, but scourge to all beasts. She was endlessly patient with babies crawling on and poking her, but she judged every nonhuman moving thing to be her mortal enemy, so I was always vigilant about her unleashed proximity to other animals. Once, my siblings and I found a small, hairless, dying bird chick that had fallen out of its nest in our tree. Someone fetched a water dropper and attempted to nourish it with sugar water, to no avail. We knew it was close to Bird Paradise, but until that happened we needed to keep Glory away to avoid her chomping and shaking it to death. But Glory was curious what we were all kneeling around, so we had to take turns keeping her at bay. After a few hours of this all the protectors ended up taking breaks at the same time. I came out of the house and saw Glory lying in the area the bird had been in and my stomach turned at the what must have happened. I raced up the hill and was shocked and relieved to see the dog protectively lying around the unharmed bird, gently nuzzling and licking it. She stayed in that same position until the bird died hours later. Good dog.
Before getting into the minivan that would take me to the MTC and North Carolina for two years, I gave Glory a big hug and said goodbye. She could sense something was up and ran after me and jumped into the van, which she had never done before. Six months after I left, Glory became testy with kids, snapping at a couple. She was old, after all. They had to put her down, and I wept when I read the letter telling me she was gone.
My daughter loves dogs, and when the time is right I want to get one. After that, I hope to have an unbroken sequence of dogs around me until I die. But the dog of a boy’s youth is always the one he remembers most.
This post is dedicated to Glory B. Bell.