Just over a month ago I said goodbye to the best brindle Bull Mastiff in the world - my world - Arnie.
I laid you to rest in huge hole but the emptiness on our plot is eerie in your absence and the void in my heart is unfathomable.
Despite my grief I rejoice in our memories. Pictures of an 11 week old puppy sitting in a cardboard box which you would later rip to shreds. Throughout your life you took pleasure in tearing apart boxes. What a glorious game!
Our first Christmas together where you chewed on beer bottles and falling asleep that evening with a soft toy in your mouth. How you nurtured those toys - being comforted by sucking them to sleep at night - even more so when I had been away from home for a few days.
I recall teaching you to swim. You did it to please me and only later did I discover you disliked water splashing on your face. I was so proud when you completed your first water retrieve! A Bull Mastiff fetching an item out of a pond. What a boy!
What about your first Birthday that we celebrated at training with cupcakes and milkshakes for the humans and snack packs for the canine companions? We had a party again when you turned three. The doggie snack packs stayed the same but ours progressed to Savannas and savouries. After all, Arnie was 21!
I was horrified the first time you charged down the driveway, hair erect, to intimidate the workers. I have no idea how they stood their ground and did not turn tail and run? I was often on the receiving end of such a burst of energy and intent. It took all my willpower to stand still knowing that you would shimmy at the last minute! BUT which way?
I was filled with pride when you learnt your recall. Walks became easier and we moved through our days with a little less trepidation knowing we could call you to heel. Well, only a little less trepidation... You frightened many people because of your sheer size. You realised you could elicit a reaction and you loved to play the 'scaring' game. Despite this scary side you were gentle. Our cats were drawn to you and you seemed to know who was part of our family and which cats were intruders - chasing away those that had not won your approval.
You were a model dog for the hydro. I have lost count of the number of times you made appearances in videos, to demonstrate an exercise or movement. We had loads of fun making those videos.
For almost nine years you have been the most incredible companion. In the end you taught me two very important things:
1. Like you namesake when he starred in The Terminator, I learnt to give the world (and sometimes people) the finger. In my mind I simply said, "#@%$ you asshole!" It was liberating.
2. During our last communication and for which I am truly grateful, you said, "Time is elusive, We have it, then we don't. Our physicality is elusive. We have it, then we don't. Our moments together are elusive. We have them, then we don't. But our love and bond are never elusive. Always present. Always there. It is always about love."
RIP Arnie. The best brindle Bull Mastiff in the world.