She came crashing into our lives in the Summer of 2004. We were two fools in love, living in upstate NY, in a darling apartment that was much too nice for us. We drove 2 hours to get her, to the Starlight Diner off some highway I can’t remember the name of anymore. We were meeting up with a man who delivered dogs in a horse trailer all over the country. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. It was sleeting and raining, as only it can do in upstate NY, and the wipers on our Ranger didn’t work so I kept leaning out to wipe off the windshield.
We’d found her through a rescue group that dealt with “bully breeds” and hard to place dogs. She was two and had been abused and abandoned. We thought she was perfect. Upon arriving at the diner the man with the big belly lumbered out of his truck and declared with a southern accent I couldn’t place, “This is the god damn biggest dog I ever seen. She broken two of my collars already. Good luck.”
I don’t think I really was listening to him because I was too distracted by the three or so missing fingers on his hands. We loaded her up in the truck, brought her home, and so began eight years of laughter, love, tears, frustration, fierce loyalty, unwavering protection, and never-ending dedication from a dog we’d call Onca.
At the times I needed her most she was perfect. Standing by my side in a dark alley in NY, ferociously growling and barking at the man trying to cross the street to get to us. When Matt would go away she wouldn’t leave my side, spending the whole night at the foot of the bed, quietly growling at the bumps in the night. He would come home and she would turn into pure goofy maddening puppy again. And so it went.
I used to joke about what life would be like without Onca. Without having to sprint out of the house in the morning, only to realize in a big important meeting she’d gotten a full slobber on me. Without scrubbing drool off the ceiling, off the walls, off the windows. Without having to get the postman an apology Christmas gift every year and writing a “sorry I try to eat you on a daily basis note…love Onca”. But I never thought about all the other things we wouldn’t have.
The utter joy and delight of an old dog acting like a puppy each and every day when she got her peanut butter kong. The unwavering protection I would feel walking her at night. The way my heart would burst when she’d be curled up, just so, happily snoring and purring away.
Today, we lost our dear Onca, and I’m not quite sure what we do now. There’s a big hole missing that will never be filled. She was one in a million: Onca Dog.