Even in my extremely sad state, I admit that Pearl may not objectively have been the best dog in the world. But she was the best dog in the world for us.
No, she was not particularly obedient. Although she knew certain commands–well, two commands–she would only perform them if she was convinced there was cheese on offer.
Even so, she knew exactly what her family needed in a dog–and that she unstintingly gave.
Her family needed a dog who could live in a small apartment, who could be trusted never to destroy anything or (except under really impossible circumstances) have an accident; a dog who made all of New York City feel like a friendly place because she elicited so many smiles, hellos, warm feelings.
Her family needed a dog who understood that they really were not all that interested in playing fetch but found great companionship in a dog who, pretending to be resting completely independently, budged up her warm rump against them while they lay in bed reading.
Her family needed a dog who could travel by public transportation, who practically jumped into her little traveling bag when a trip was in the offing–anything rather than be left behind–and quietly allowed herself to be squeezed under plane seats, train seats, restaurant chairs, even through the side doors of more than one hotel.
Pearl was foolishly loyal–diving after us into mountain streams (though she hated swimming); trooping after us into blackberry brambles (though she always got snagged); charging along on hikes (though truly, she preferred the porch.)
What her family (or at least one of them) needed most of all was to feel loved. This need Pearl fulfilled on a daily basis, sweetly, nobly, companionably, and with great and infectious joy.
And when it became clear that one of her owners also needed help with her writing, Pearl not only provided endless inspiration, but, when things got rough, took the matter into her own teeth.
She will be very sorely missed.