This has nothing to do with flying. It is a tribute to an old friend recently passed.

— James Albright






"Good bang."

We used to live in a house with a fenced-in back yard where we could let Milo take care of business unsupervised, at his own leisurely pace, and when he was ready he would return. Every now and then we would forget Milo in the Texas heat, but he would wait patiently and if we happened to see his big, 120-pound Golden Retriever mug through the patio door, we would let him in. No complaints, that dog just sat there and waited. More than once somebody left the back gate open and Milo would move to the front door. There he would wait. Milo was patient beyond all patience. "Why doesn't he bark," the kids would ask. "He's considerate," I would say, "he knows we don't like loud noises."

That dog could run. We would steel ourselves for six mile runs in the Texas heat and slap the leash to him and off we'd go. It didn't matter what time of day, it didn't matter if it was sunny or wet. "Wanna run?" The answer was always yes. We ran, he ran. We walked, he walked. "Sit." He sat. "Stay." He stayed. "Speak." Well, he never spoke. He never barked for the first eight years of his life. He was a considerate hound.

Tricks? He had a few. I once saw an ad in an airport with a dog sitting patiently balancing a biscuit on his nose. "Forget something?" the ad said. In just an hour or so, Milo was balancing biscuits on his nose until somebody said, "Eat!" With a flip of his nose the biscuit flew into the air and right into his mouth. You could point your finger at him, pistol-like, and yell "Bang!" Milo would fall to the ground and point his legs skyward. One eye would stay open to see if you approved. "Good bang, Milo, good bang!"

Living up here in New Hampshire now, we decided our perfect dog deserved a puppy. Kimo, a smaller Golden Retriever came from the same family line but a different planet. We aren't sure he really is a dog. But Milo helped raise Kimo who sprouted to become quite a character. As considerate, calm and quiet as Milo is; Kimo is demanding, hyper, and loud. When Kimo was left outside, he would charge at the door with a crash to let you know, "I want in. Now!" Milo never charged the door. He sat patiently. But thanks to Kimo, now he never had to wait long.

Passing ten years in age, Milo's eye sight and hearing started to go. He still loved his walks and still hovered around the kitchen for the occasional scrap to fall off the counter. But more and more his favorite thing to do was nap. Another year elapsed and arthritis made life that much more difficult. It was a major effort to lift his bulk from horizontal to vertical, but lift he did. If Kimo happened by at full speed, poor Milo would end up on the floor, spread-eagled. But still no complaints, he simply picked himself up and started over. "This is my life now," he seemed to say. "Now, where are those biscuits?"

Milo was always a good patient with the vet, a "patient patient." But in his twelfth year we could tell the vet was withholding bad news. We discussed the fact that someday we would have to make a painful decision. But we wanted what was best for Milo. Even the world's most patient dog shouldn't have to put up with too much pain.

Last night Milo went to sleep and didn't wake up. Considerate to the end, he didn't want to put us through the agony of deciding his fate. We carried his lifeless body to the Pet Cemetery and when I last laid eyes on his kind, peaceful face, I thought, "Good bang, Milo, good bang."