Jennifer's speech at Dave's memorial celebration:
I am truly honored to be considered one of Dave and Linda’s many adopted children. They surely love Tory, Colin and Darren most of all, but their hearts were big enough to take more of us on.
It took me until yesterday to find the thoughts I wanted to convey today. I struggled to think of just the right words to describe Dave as a friend and mentor.
But yesterday morning I had a small inspiration. Followed by a Google search. Followed by a quick check with Tory for appropriateness.
So, here it goes.
- Anything he is asked to do, he nearly always does willingly, unquestioningly, and quickly.
- He is highly co-operative.
- He is much admired.
- He is vigilant but peppy, respected and adored by people for many reasons.
- He is versatile, responsive, pliable, and happy to comply.
- He is rarely stubborn about following instructions when given proper training and afforded a healthy lifestyle.
- He has a measured and steady temperament.
- He is not unpredictable or erratic.
- He enjoys making the people in his life happy, and flourishes in their company.
- He is not a loner in any sense.
- He is outgoing and blossoms when provided with sufficient positive interaction with people.
- He has an abundance of positive qualities, although "dainty" and "refined" are probably not among them.
- He is a bundle of energy and liveliness, and as a result can sometimes be a little on the boisterous side.
- Regular daily exercise is imperative for keeping him content, healthy and properly behaved.
- He is loyal, intelligent, clever and good at many types of jobs.
- He gets along well with adult and young adult humans, and is a good match with all sorts of pets.
- He does extremely well alongside kids.
- He is sweet, tender, affectionate and lovable.
- And above all, he is loyal.
These are descriptions I found when Googling “Labrador retriever traits.” And I am confident that Dave would not only not mind the comparison to a Labrador, but would be honored and charmed by it.
When I first met Dave and Linda, they had a yellow Labrador named Monte. And I had one named Davis. In fact, it was Davis who brought me close to Dave and Linda. Shortly after meeting us, they volunteered to watch Davis whenever I traveled as a way of supporting me in my animal advocacy efforts.
I could do an hour-long comedy routine with the material generated from the situations that Dave and Linda found themselves in with that crazy dog.
But despite the challenges he always posed to them, they never said “hey Jennifer, please stop asking us to watch that dog.” Nope, they made him the original V-dog poster child. Because they loved him and accepted him for who he was.
And that’s just how Dave treated me too. He offered countless words of encouragement – and sometimes tough love – on the many occasions I sat in their dog Panda’s chair in their living room, crying or bemoaning some personal or professional difficulty.
Upon reflection, I can’t recall Dave even one time saying he wasn’t available or didn’t have time for me. He sometimes made me go for a really long, really fast-paced dog walk with him, but he always fit me in. And since he died I have learned that was so many other people’s experience too. I am astonished by the ability Dave had to love so many, so well.
One thing I’ve really struggled with this past month is the reality that I’ll have to learn to stop saying “Dave and Linda” like it is one word. Because as special a person as Dave was as an individual, Linda was always there too, offering me just as much support, although with fewer desserts and beers and more “Go Vegan” t-shirts and oil-free food.
Like everyone here, I miss Dave and I will continue to miss him. Especially his smile, his laugh and his judgment-free and unconditional fatherly love.
But I am finding some peace by picturing him hiking with Monte and Davis – three happy Labradors in their version of heaven.