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A Tribute to Baron

by Neil Boling

From the moment I met Baron in April of 1992, I knew it wasn't going
to be easy. He was out in the driveway of the Malone's, the folks that
were selling him. We pulled up to their home on Trask Street... and I
was eager to pet my first Dalmatian. Baron took a playful swipe at my
face with his paw. It scratched my upper lip all the way through (the
first of many through the years). The Malone's could tell we were a
match made in heaven, opting to sell him to us over several other
people. My dad picked him up, and I raced home from school on my bike
with Corey to see my prized new pet. There he was... on a leash with
my dad. I couldn't believe this magnificent, beautiful dog was mine.

I had plans to rename him "Flash" (the Malone's called him "Bear", a
rather common nickname at the time). He bolted around the back yard,
true to his new name. I remember waking up to "Flash" hogging most of
my undersized twin bed, parked up against the window... and wondering
if it was dream. Dad eventually convinced me to settle on "Baron" for
his name. It sounded closer to "Bear" and it was short for his
official registered name "Sir Robin Baron of Nottingham." Baron it
was. Baron, forever it will be.

I remember pulling into the driveway and seeing his mouse-like ears
sticking through the blinds. He turned his head in jerky motions to
verify that I was indeed coming in the door. Dad always got something
out of the fridge as a treat, sending Baron into a state of delirium.
Baron got to roam a nice, big backyard. He loved to play with the
soccer ball, fitting it somehow into his mouth and demanding that I
chase him. But his heart belonged to the football, pulling the first
two strings out to make it easy to carry. I would chase him to the
point of exhaustion, for the both of us. Eventually it would be the
two of us rolling in the grass, panting... and happy as two creatures
could ever be. He loved to chase the glass snakes (the ones with
legs). Of particular delight was when the tail would fall off, and
flip around uncontrollably in the grass. Dad and I would be reduced to
tears at the sight of Baron pouncing on that tail with all four feet
together, like some kind of doggie pogo stick.

His life, and mine, got even better when we moved into grandma's
house. I think he became her dog there for a while, choosing to sleep
with her. But who could blame him? Grandma would butter his waffles,
and always dressed his food with a little extra. One bag of dog chow
would last months... highly unusual for a dog his size. My aunt would
sneak him half her plate, and Grandma's crusty boyfriend couldn't
resist using Baron as a foot warmer.

After one year in the college dorm. I made plans to get an apartment,
and reclaim my best friend. I'll never forget that August night in
1997, when he lifted his leg and kept it lifted, but only little
dribbles came out. I stayed up for the next several hours, petting
him, comforting him. We made it to the vet in time for emergency
surgery. The vet pulled out dozens of bladder stones.

Baron survived, and lived a long, happy life. He was my companion from
middle school, all the way through the recent birth of my daughter.
Almost 14 years of memories, laughs, and friendship. He was one of
kind. He will always be one of a kind. Like I said the first time I
saw Baron, I knew it wasn't going to be easy. But then again, nothing
in life that is worthwhile ever is. "Worthwhile" is about the biggest
understatement ever applied to Baron. Rest in peace, my friend. I will
always remember you... and cherish the times we had together.