Hello, Gnof

Well, there we were. Our family consists two boys, one 6 almost 7, the other just turned 5 years old. One loves animals to pieces, the other was incredibly scared of dogs.

Let’s be clear: I am not a dog person, either. I love cats because they are the coolest animal to have around you. They leave you alone when you want to be alone, they come visit when you are depressed or crying, they purr when they are happily sitting on a pillow or on your lap, they smell like the outdoors, they are soft to your touch, they make pretty noises when they are hungry, and you can leave them for a weekend at home without fear. Perhaps some fears existed, such as shredded curtains or accidents in a bathroom, but I didn’t have to plan to take them with me for a weekend get-away.

Unlike a dog.

A dog is smelly, especially a wire-haired one.

A dog requires constant attention, not to mention the trainings through wind and rain when you first get your dog and not to mention the number of accidents you clean in your home when they are still puppies.

A dog has to be walked. Through wind and rain, and even when he doesn’t want to go himself.

A dog can do pretty dirty things when you walk him, like sniff other dogs’ poo and drag his nose hairs through it. That’s not all, he can also walk through other dogs’ poo and not pay any attention to his paws. And he can manage to pee over himself if he has just been trimmed.

A dog barks. Sometimes a cute bark. We kept telling our dog Gnof to learn how to bark. He sounded like a seal instead of a dog, with that high tone and short to the point.

A dog follows you everywhere and Gnof always wanted to tag along. He would bark, intermittently, missing us, missing me, his chef, his food- and treat-supplier.

A dog has to be fed. Twice a day. For his health and to manage portions.

Have I left anything out?

A dog needs to go to the vet, regularly. Well, actually, so do our cats. We are into having a flea-free home and healthy animals who don’t infect others.

Now I think I have covered all the angles. There is still a big one, though. That hole left from his presence now that he’s gone. I sound so stupid, but there is a difference between cats and dogs. A big one. I loved my cats, but now that our dog is gone, I also realized I really loved our smelly, difficult, demanding, adorable dog. Our Gnof.

We made so many words with his name: we used to drink Gnoffie, instead of coffee. We used to Gnof-uum, instead of vacuum. We used to concoct Gnoftails, instead of cocktails. Let’s dive back in time again, to my wonderful memories of our wonderful family friend.

Gnof was born in the fall, which is why his trainings were particularly brutal (for me).

We live in The Netherlands, and all I can say is, if you think Portland, Oregon, is rainy, “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” The Netherlands is rainy, more often, more consistent, and it provides a blanket of moisture when you have dry skin. In the winter, it accentuates the cold by adding a wind factor to heighten the effect of its moisture. You need a raincoat in The Netherlands, whenever you visit this country. There are no guarantees as to nice weather. It is short of a miracle to experience a whole week without rain. Seriously.

This is good advice: take a raincoat when you visit Europe.

Gnof had a cute way about him. He would walk up to you when you were sitting down, and he could look at you, and, if he was feeling it, he would bare his teeth, just a teensy-weeny bit, and smile. It was the cutest thing, ever.

He also smiled when I came home and it had been a longer time since my departure. Somehow, our Gnof managed to understand time. If I was gone for five minutes, he would wag his tail but not bother to get up. If I had gone off to work, gone shopping, or was gone for more than a few hours, I would get this extravagant, expertly styled welcome from him.

Gnof had different versions of welcome for different people in his circle of family and friends. For me, he would smile and sit prettily, sometimes dancing around me, barking intermittently. For my husband, he would run circles around the car, barking. For our oldest, he would run circles around him and bark. For our youngest, he would jump up and down, barking the whole time until he had been patted enough. Just from how Gnof barked, you would know who had arrived home.

For his friends, the obvious dog manners counted. One friend of his, our neighbor’s dog across the street, was his favorite. He would walk by their house and sniff the air to see if Bink was out and about, so that he would know to be happy in anticipation of playing with Bink down the road. They used to run up and down this dirt lane, and Bink would rush into a pond to get the ball; not Gnof, he did not like swimming or water much.

For our family, Gnof reserved different types of welcome as well. He learned over time not to jump up against anyone but my best girlfriend, Carin. She was a total dog person and dogs sensed it. She loved for him to jump up and bark and be all kinds of happy. Gnof just enjoyed women. Partially because I always went walking with my girlfriends and Gnof, and partially because he was just so loved by women.

He was quite the attractive dog.


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