One of My Favorite Relationships: My DogApril 16, 2019
A Dog is Man’s Best Friend
There are very few I know who I can say, “I revere.” My definition of revere is: respect, honor, and hold in the highest esteem. I have placed two I knew on this pedestal: Interior designer Richard Himmel and my beloved pooch, Orchid Good. You are thinking, “That’s a very odd combination.”
Richard Himmel was the designer of the home we built in Rancho Mirage, California. I spent two years with him. We shopped together for each piece of furniture, every fabric, all the flooring and wall coverings, appliances and lighting. I sat with him in meetings with our builder and architect and observed his brilliance and gentlemanly manner, I heard his peers and clients speak highly of him. He had an uncanny ability to “get” his clients. No two homes he designed looked alike because Richard Himmel knew his role was to lead his clients in the right direction while designing “their home, not his home.” He had flair. He was gifted. He had so much instinct and ability that Architectural Digest named him Decorator of the 60s.
So it should not surprise you that I respected, honored and held him in the highest esteem. Dick and I were a great team because we were in sync. Whatever Dick loved, I loved. I see him today, fluffing the pillows in heaven.
One day I saw him walking his pooch down Michigan Avenue. We stopped to chat and I asked him the breed because at that moment I decided if my ultimate concierge and I had a pooch I’d want one like Richard Himmel’s, a soft-coated Wheaten terrier. I knew I would not go wrong and I was so right.
Orchid and Dick Would Have Had a Love Affair
Dick Himmel and Orchid never met because Dick passed away just before we brought our puppy home. I know if he had met her he would have said, to me,
“She is a decorator’s dream. Her color is gorgeous, she is the perfect weight and height for a Wheaton, she has elegance and showmanship about her, and her eyes are like big buttercups.”
She in turn would have loved Dick because pooches sense an animal lover. And, Dick was that. Actually, his Wheaten saved his life. In the middle of the night he fell in his bathroom, hit his head and lay unconscious. His Wheaten woke up his wife!
It is almost a year to the day that Orchid Good left us. She passed away in my arms, in “the home that Dick built.” As the doctor gave her an injection she was kissing my hand, telling me she loved me and that everything was OK. My heart still breaks when I think of losing Orchid.
In the dog world, Orchid stood in a class by herself. Everyone who met her, and most importantly those who knew her well, loved Orchid. I dare say she was one of the favorites in our dog friendly building in my beautiful Chicago. All our grandchildren have pets they love and yet they always said, “Orchid was a special pooch.” People still mention Orchid to me.
Yes, she was a stunning pooch but more importantly she overwhelmed everyone with a special inner beauty. She greeted everyone with her waggy tail, never playing favorites; walking over to plant a lick on each person. She was deliciously loving, perfectly behaved, classy and fabulous. She was my writing partner, always by my side as I typed out my musings to all of you.
Richard Himmel Would Have Loved The Name “Orchid”
I am certain Dick would have smiled when I told him the name I chose for my Wheaten. He would have said with that twinkle in his eye, “Very original. Very elegant. Very out of the ordinary. You did well.”
And if I had had the chance to tell him the story of how and why I chose the name, I think he would have said, “Tell the story to your readers.” Why? Because Richard Himmel was also an author.
The Story Behind Orchid’s Name
My ultimate concierge and I were driving to Arizona to visit my daughter and son-in-law and grands. It’s a long drive from Palm Springs to Scottsdale. It was the first time I had seen the normally flat and dull desert alive in color. Spring arrived very early in the West and hundreds of cactuses were in full bloom; dressed in brightly colored flowers as far as my eyes could see.
I glanced over to my ultimate concierge and with exuberance and excitement said,
“Look out over the desert at the colorful flowering cactuses. They have pink, and red and yellow florets!”
“I have always loved the desert and think it has its own beauty,” he answered.
“I wish the desert was a field of white Orchids instead of cactus covered in flowers.”
And, then darlings, in a most lively and energetic voice that startled my husband, I exclaimed,
“I know our new puppy’s name! We will name her Orchid. Orchid Good. You know how much i love Hawaii and Orchids.”
My ultimate concierge laughed and said, “Whatever makes you happy.”
So on that January day, over 12 years ago, I named my delicious Wheaten “Orchid.”
I believe there are many reasons for the saying, “A dog is man’s best friend.”
- Dogs play an important role in their owners’ health. Orchid and I exercised and also had peaceful and alone times with one another. We took an hourlong early morning walk in our beautiful Chicago and then climbed 25 steps up to the entrance of the Museum of Contemporary Art, sitting peacefully, watching the world go by.
- Dogs protect their owners. Orchid had acute hearing and barked to warn us if she heard any unusual sound. She was a protector.
- Dogs are wonderful companions. Orchid would sit with me as I sent texts to my grandchildren, she was my writing partner who never left my side as I wrote my stories, she slept next to my side of our bed, watched TV with me, went shopping with me and sat with me as we had breakfast and lunch at an outdoor café in the summer. In her presence, I was never lonely.
- Dogs are loyal. Orchid was loyal. When we were with people she never left my side and would let me know she was there by rubbing against my leg.
- LOVE!!! The love between a pooch and owner is pure. There is no agenda. Just unconditional love and respect.
As I write this, America Good, our 10-monthold Wheaten pooch, is watching the Masters Golf Tournament! Can you believe it? He is talking with little tiny guttural sounds to Tiger Woods as he goes to putt. OMG this pooch, whose AKC name is Serendipitous Blessing, is a ball of fire and smarter than Einstein. Not like Orchid at all because as feminine as Orchid was, America Good is all male. He is in love with me! My ultimate concierge watches in awe as America follows me all over the house. If I move, he moves. He cannot stop kissing me! In the early morning when I take him out of his crate he puts his front paws around my neck and kisses my right ear until I make him stop. He kisses my feet if I am barefoot and insists I sit with him as he eats.
He is full of personality and I often say he would be elected mayor of a dog town! And, if he ran for president I have no doubt, by hook or by crook, America Good would win!
I named him America because I love my country. It happened by chance. It was serendipity. Every day I say America a hundred times and I feel pride and joy that I am an American and that America Good is my loyal and loving pooch. No, he will never take the place of Orchid Good. That is how it should be. Different times. Different loves. It is OK.