Framing the Dialogue

Hampton and We

You’ve seen lots of family movies showing cute, but spirited dogs.  Beethoven comes to mind as the St. Bernard who lovingly destroyed his family’s home.  And there is the Shaggy Dog where the Father is actually transformed into the dog and has many humorous adventures.  How many of us read Marmaduke or loved Scooby-Do the dynamic Great Danes of cartoon/comic hall of fame. 

As you watch TV you are bombarded with the trailers for Marley and Me.  It reminded me when a friend lent me this book when our dog was very young…and very spirited.  She didn’t pull tables down, steal the Thanksgiving turkey, or even knock over the Christmas tree.  She never really was a fiend for chewing things, but she seemed to have a fondness for retainers (she notched her “collar” with four confirmed kills) and gum wrapped in toilet paper fished out of the wastebasket (all of our cans were converted to ones with lids).  She also claimed a great deal of chapstick over the years. 

As I look back, it really wasn’t too bad (memories can be kind).  As we were going through the two-year-long puppy stage, I couldn’t bring myself to read the book.  It was a frustrating time and really didn’t want to read about someone else’s problem dog.  I returned the book unread a few years ago.

All of a sudden our dog turned two.  She was transformed from the frustrating puppy to the kinder, gentler friend and family member.  No more sharp teeth, no more little (and sometimes not so little) presents around the house.  I actually thought that this dog thing might just work for us.  Our family developed a system to live with a dog and life progressed.  The kids grew older.  Hampton started to get a little gray in her beard.

She became a trusted member of the family and was allowed on certain pieces of furniture.  She had a favorite ottoman near a window in the den where she watched the neighbors walk by (and barked at them) most evenings.  It might sound like she was a good watch dog, but that was not her calling as we often heard folks come to the front door long before she would even stir.  Once she got going though her bark was pretty impressive although the wagging tail gave away her true demeanor.

We soon discovered that she only obeyed the furniture rule when we were around and awake.  After a few years, she really didn’t even bother hide her larceny until we chased her from the furniture.  It was hard to be too mad at her, as she really seemed to love soft places to lie.  It wasn’t unusual to catch her on a piece of furniture with her head resting on one of her favorite plush squeaky toys.  She was most fond of the ones that squeaked and were in the shape of real animals.  Very few of the internal squeakers lasted more than a few days.

One of my favorite things about her was how she seemed to know when I came home before I backed fully into our driveway.  Each day when I would back into my spot I could look through our back window and sure enough Hampton would be standing on our love seat looking at me.  She had a way of crossing her paws along the back of the chair.  I could see the white spots on her front paws. 

Her mother was a chocolate lab and we never new much about the father.  I joked that it was whatever male jumped over the fence in late September of 2004.  When we saw pictures of her litter, she was the only one with the little white on her paws and a white patch on her breast.  It’s why we picked her.

I’ll miss seeing her looking at me through the back window most.  She seemed healthy until a few weeks ago when everything seemed to go wrong for her.  We tried an aggressive treatment regimen and it seemed to be working.  I came home from work a few weeks ago and to my delight there she was looking at me.  Unfortunately it didn’t last.  She fought hard, but we had to let her go a few hours ago.  We were all there with her at the end.  Intellectually I know it was for the best, but it doesn’t make it any easier.  She was with us for too short a time.

Hampton (December 10, 2003 to December 19, 2008)

Hampton (December 10, 2003 to December 19, 2008)

We’ll miss you Hampton!

8 CommentsLeave one

  1. Rhonda says:

    Greg, Sharon and family,

    I’m so sorry about Hampton. I know how hard it is to lose a beloved pet. They become so mucha a part of the family.

    Take care.

  2. Annette says:

    A beautiful tribute to a wonderful companion. Hampton was truly a great dog. She was a great member of your family and I will miss her.

  3. Bobbi says:

    Wow, I can’t stop crying now. I remember how long you waited to get a dog and then Hampton was a perfect fit for your family. You even handled those first two years so well, I was so impressed! We will miss her greetings at the door too.
    Can’t think of anything profound to say except I am really sorry; it is awful to loose a loyal, unconditionally loving member of your family at all to young of an age.
    My Best,
    Bobbi

  4. Lisa says:

    Holesh Family, We are so saddened to hear about Hampton. Almost a year ago, we welcomed Lindsey, a Cairn Terrier, into our family. She has truly become part of our pack. For this reason, we understand your loss and have great empathy. Hampton was a beautiful dog. May you always have fun and fond memories of her!

  5. Beth says:

    Greg,
    This is so beautifully written. I’m sure this was so hard for you to do. I know how much Hampton meant to you and the entire family! It was evident in the amount of time you spent training her. I will so miss Hampton too! I loved her so much and felt like she always knew who I was when I came to visit. It certainly won’t be the same without her. I am very sorry for your loss. I have to say that I’ve never shed a tear over a lost pet, but you managed to change that!

    My best,
    Beth

  6. Bernie says:

    Greg & family,

    I never got to meet Hampton but I’m sure she was a delight to have as part of the family. This tribute to her was beautiful and of course brought tears to my eyes. I’m sure she was loved very much by all of you. She will always be a part of you.

    Take care,
    Bern

  7. Carol says:

    I remember reading your tribute and, now after losing Mitzie, it is doubly poignant for me. I never thought it would be this hard. Dogs have a way of bring people closer ….a common bond so to speak. What a blessing they are to a family. Hampton really was great dog. Your tribute was beautiful. Enjoy the fond memories. Carol

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