My boy, Nelson
“Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.”
Coriolanus Act II, Scene I
I remember when my wife Doreen first mentioned Nelson to me. “Doreen, I just can’t have a dog named Nelson.”
Former city of Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson was out of office less than a year when my wife decided we needed another dog, and “Nelson” was available on the Siberian Husky rescue website. Nelson was six years old.
While he didn’t have the name very long (it was given to him by the rescue organization), changing it to something else just didn’t seem right. So the name Nelson stayed with the dog. The name “Nelson” came from a butterfly, but our dog was neither graceful nor elegant. He was a lumbering giant shedding furball.
He was definitely a big boy for a Husky, and he was even bigger because of his weight problem. He loved to eat. Before the rescue found him, I suspect his diet consisted of a lot of hot dogs and McDonalds. He could recognize a McDonalds bag by sight. Now that’s powerful marketing.
We brought his weight down gradually, although he still had a ways to go.
It was very unlikely Nelson was a purebred dog. He had a “collie face” and Malamute paws. One of his front paws was damaged and he limped. We’re not sure if the weak paw was from birth or an accident later in life. We suspect the latter. While it made him leery of stairs or climbing into cars, it did not affect his enthusiasm for play.
Nelson was a happy dog who was always smiling. He loved people, adults and children alike. He was always happy to see visitors as long as they didn’t interfere with nap time. Then he just didn’t bother to get up. He rarely barked at people. He loved playing, and he was always happy to see the friends of my children.
Nelson was a big baby. He was my big baby. He hated getting his nails cut. He hated getting his hair brushed. He hated getting in the car. He hated going to the vet. He hated getting shots. He put up with these things because Daddy made him, and he was quick to forgive those other inconveniences if it meant more treats, more attention and more playtime.
We didn’t have him with us nearly long enough. You can say that about most dogs that become part of your family, but we lost Nelson when he was only nine years old. The end was sudden and unexpected. Even now as I’m typing this, I’m expecting “the big galoot” to lay across my feet as he often did when I worked, just enjoying the company of his people.