Gene Tackett called last week. He was returning from the vet, where he had taken Peanut, his 15-year-old border collie with the soft fur and sweet disposition.
"I'd like to give you all Peanut's stuff," Gene said. "I have a bowl, food, treats, vitamins and three doggie beds."
You can't have too many doggie beds. Too much food. Beds, food, treats -- Peanut was gone but still making friends.
Gene wrote an obit for Peanut:
"After more than 5,000 newspaper pick ups, Peanut, the border collie, Queensland Heeler mix, has given up the newspaper collection business, making humans feel extra good, and has passed on.
"Peanut was born near Tehachapi on May 15, 1998, and was given to Benji Tackett as a birthday gift. When Benji left for the University, Peanut was raised by Benji's parents, Gene and Wendy. It is not unusual for a young child to be raised by grandparents when a father abandons his charge. The same is true of a dog. The grandparents quickly fell in love.
"Peanut made many friends over the years. She traveled as far as Oregon and almost drowned in a fast moving river there. She was Gene and Wendy's best friend and protector, sleeping next to their bed every night. Each morning she would collect the newspapers thrown on the driveway, rain or shine, and bring them to Gene.
"Peanut developed arthritis and this week, combined with her age, she was unable to walk on her own. She was taken to the vet and put to sleep for her journey to the Ninth Continent to join Wendy.
"Thanks to the gracious caregivers at the Southwest Veterinary Hospital, the Baker women, who walked and talked with Peanut when Gene and Wendy were out of town and the many friends who gave Peanut love over the years.
"Peanut's ashes will be spread in Jastro Park and along the west edge of the Wayne/Tackett home near the Phat Cave in a private ceremony."
Pets flow through a neighborhood courtesy of a breeze only animals can feel. Occasionally, one lands on your front porch as did Blueberry, our new cat. She followed much loved Callie, who died at 18.
Blueberry came with a friend, Homer, or Marshmallow, as we call him. Blueberry was like a blue chip basketball prospect who insists on his high school teammate being accepted as part of the signing package.
Marshmallow was the throw-in player.
Marshmallow drifted onto our front porch about the same time that Blueberry's formal acceptance came through from Sue.
Homer, cross-eyed and enormous, sleeps on the carpet sample on the front porch railing. Outside cat, inside cat. Power forward, and the point guard who throws him the ball.
More neighborhood pet news. Down-the-street friends adopted a kitten. With the kitten, they signed on to midnight bottle feedings. There must be a place in heaven for people who do around-the-clock feedings. I may not be in that part.
Son Sam and Lauren, his fiance, brought home a new puppy. A black pug that Lauren named Dougie.
Is there anything cuter than a black pug puppy? Their eyes are too big for their heads and tongues too long for their mouths.
Dougie spends a lot of time on Sam's lap. So much for hard-hearted Sam. Dougie is ruining his reputation.
A few days ago, Gennie, our black lab mix, refused to jump in the back of the truck for our morning walk. She walked around the passenger side of the truck and waited for me to open the door so she could step into the front seat. At 13, she's earned the right.
I walked into the backyard recently and Poco, the blind chocolate lab, was chasing Mexicali Alley, the red chicken who lives next door. The chicken looked at Poco, who was running around in circles, like: "Is that all you've got?"
The neighborhood has been busy. Comings, goings and soon to arrive. Thankfully, that breeze never subsides.