Fletcher, who looked after loving owner for seven years.

His heritage was English but he would have been the perfect shep dog, comfortable on a farm or friendly outside a pub in the west of Ireland had that been his lot.

No royal blood flowed through him but he was a pedigree all the same. He was a pure English springer spaniel born and raised in the Garden State.

At his happiest, he was a Jersey Shore dog, barking at the tourists from his window perch as they walked to the beach.

Mostly, Fletcher the dog was a brilliant friend with more personality than many people I’ve known.

Charles Bukowski once wrote: “I have seen dogs with more style than men.”

Fletcher had both style and personality.

Thinking about all this, I found another Bukowski poem called “dog.”

a single dog
walking alone on a hot sidewalk of
appears to have the power
of ten thousand gods.
why is this?

Because, Hank, dogs are good and pure and happy.

Fletcher, O noble dog, was one of the best of their lot.

Fletcher’s breed is described as gun dogs, which is perfect since I don’t own firearms, don’t hunt and stopped photographing hard news and conflicts years ago. It does explain him chasing any fireworks I lit off. Gun dogs aren’t afraid of the blast.

We got off to a rough start in a confusing situation. Some biting was involved by both parties.
After the teeth, everything was more thoughtful.

Growing up with dogs, I never had to debate one before. Seriously, we had arguments and conversations, me and the dog. Fletch was that intelligent and moody.

This gun dog was also my rescue, keeping me peaceful and quiet when needed.

Most dogs are comfort dogs as far as I am concerned. Most people could use one. Fletcher took care of me for almost 7 years. I thank him for the comfort.

Then the old boy let us know it was time after a good run with his humans.

After giving Honey Badger one last kiss, he died in my arms down the shore.

As sad as the moment was, it was as perfect as you can get. He went out his way; with us in the place he was happiest.

Summer’s near over now.

My time at the beach is done until the striped bass hit the surf.

Packing up the truck, I walked past his perch where Fletcher used to bark at the tourists.

The air was quiet. The window, it was empty.

It was time to leave until the next gun dog barks here.

A gap where Fletcher should. Standing to greet passersby.