Joe always wanted a dog. I did not. I was the parent. We did not get a dog. But he continued to campaign vigorously, hoping I would change my mind. I held firm all through his childhood. He graduated from high school in 1997 but he continued to live at home and go to a community college.

What good boy. Would you like to be cooed? Best dog ever.

In December of 1997, I finally relented and he and his father went to the pound to look for a dog immediately, lest I change my mind. They brought home this puppy that was the size of what I had imagined the grown dog to be. The dog had feet that would have fit in Magic Johnson’s shoes.

Although I allowed a dog to invade my home, I was still very afraid of dogs and this big ox was going to have to stay downstairs. The door to the kitchen was always closed and Joe spent all his time at home in the basement with the dog. Joe named his dog Trip, claiming it had nothing to do with drug use, but Joe’s own desire to travel.

We built an eight- by six-foot pen in the basement for the dog. And yet, when I came home from work, Trip would be on the landing. He hated the basement. We tried everything to keep him penned (because he was not house trained) but he managed to make messes all over the basement.

In less than a few months’ time, Trip had access to the entire house. There were dog toys scattered all over. The puppy was now the size of a pony and romped through the open house floor plan enjoying his time until someone, anyone would let him outside. He LOVED outside.

At the end of July 1998, Joe announced he was nineteen, grown, and moving to Colorado. He was nineteen and he and Trip moved to Colorado. Trip loved outside and apparently the neighboring farmer did not like that as much as the dog did. Trip was shot with salt buckshot while out there. Joe called in tears after trying to treat the dog himself. We got Trip to a vet and he was okay.

While Joe was out west, I was missing my full house or hating my empty nest. I told Dick we either needed to have a baby or get a dog. We got a dog. LC looked like a much smaller version of Trip when we first brought her flea-invested self home.

About three weeks later, Joe called and asked if he and Trip could move back because they were not as successful out there as they had hoped. They got back home and I held LC on my lap while we introduced the dogs. Trip smelled and sniffed and then looked to me for pets and scratches behind his ears. The dogs decided they would be best friends.

They chased around the house. There was always dog hair everywhere. They tore up the yard. They romped through the leaves. They chased. Trip fetched balls and sticks and LC chased with Trip but never would pick up whatever had been thrown. He was lead dog.

Joe and Trip moved to Columbus. They moved back to Elyria. They moved out. They moved to Hilton Head Island. They moved to Cleveland. They moved back to The Rock. Trip went wherever Joe was.

Aiden thought the huge dog was great. He poked at it. He laid on it. He did whatever he wanted to it and the big dog let him. While learning to walk, Aiden learned that when walking around the back of the big dog – squint. The dog’s tail wagged a lot and you could get hit in the face with it.

Two more kids poking and laying on the dog never tired him. He spent the summer they lived on an inlet always guarding the kids. Trip was always scanning the horizon, looking for alligators and was always between the kids and any gators. He was their protector and he took his job seriously.

A couple years ago, he was infested with a horrible case of fleas that would not go away. A lesser man would have given up. But both the great men – Joe and Trip – struggled to overcome this issue. They did. Finally, a dog who looked half dead was back to himself.

Trip lost his hearing a few years ago. His legs were weakening. The last time we were at Hilton Head and playing on the dirt mountain, Trip was with us and would only chase a thrown rock once and then simply ignored one of his favorite games. He was tired.

Trip was simply a great dog. He will be missed by his family. I don’t know how to let LC know her bestest friend ever is gone.

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