Esther was born in 1984. She was a Springer Spaniel named after the swimmer, Esther Williams, because she loved the water since birth. My mom and dad were living in Los Angeles at the time in a cookie cutter suburb and were ready to escape the hectic, L.A. city living. Although my mom was married to my dad, Esther and my dad were true soul mates. He treated her like a human and she loved him for it.
The minute Esther came home from the neighborhood breeder my dad was obsessed. I wasn’t alive yet but from the stories and the photos, it was clear that was my dad’s first child. Quickly after Esther came into the picture, my brother was born and Esther was prepared as any mother would be. Every time my brother cried she would race to his crib in panic. She alerted the entire house and treated my brother as if that were her newborn baby. Remember the scene in Lady and the Tramp when Lady races back and forth between the crib and the parent’s bed? It was just like that. Esther was the kind of dog with the eyes of an old soul. You could look into her eyes and see a whole generation of feelings. She was one of a kind.
When I eventually came into existence Esther was a polished and prepared mother and knew exactly what to do for me. Describing her as maternal in an understatement. My dad used to say she was the matriarch of the house. She made me laugh, kept me warm at night and protected me. I was her little baby. Yes, Esther loved my brother; my mom and me, but she adored my dad. She followed him from room to room and if my mom was too affectionate with my dad, she would become like a jealous girlfriend. My mom and dad thought it was hilarious. Esther did not.
When I hit elementary school my dad used to bring Esther into my classroom for visits. Once my teacher let us blow off an entire math class to watch Esther perform her many magnificent tricks. (I like to think if Esther and my dad were alive today, they would appear on America’s Got Talent.) My dad taught Esther how to pretend read. He would place a book in front of her face and she would move her head back and forth as if reading the pages. The kids in my class thought it was hysterical and I felt like the cool kid in my class for once. My father was a stay-at-home dad so these sorts of moments meant a lot to him and to me.
When Esther started getting older, she lost her hearing and eyesight. My dad used to tell us she lost it from all the crazy Texas storms. “All that damn thunder made her deaf kids!” He would have to scream at the top of his lungs to get her to go outside. When she eventually heard him she would look up like, “What the hell do you want from me?” If she could’ve she would’ve given eye rolls constantly. She was a sassy dog.
When Esther passed away our family was lost. My dad in particular. I remember we mourned over her death for weeks. Our Texas friends and neighbors thought we were crazy. They just didn’t get it. Esther was a major piece of our family and she died too soon (all dogs do). She moved from California to Texas with us, watched my brother and I grow up, learned every trick my dad taught her and loved my dad and our family deeply until the day she died. Now our family has a new dog, named Eddie. Eddie was one of Esther’s many nicknames. She lives on. She always will.