I knew at some point we would go our separate ways, and that parting, as inevitable as it would be, would require a kindred spirit holding my hand, bracing me as I drove away, seeing Delano in my rear-view mirror for the final time. Pompey was that someone, or so I thought. My dog does not possess the longing I feel for objects. Sure, she has a natural affinity for her food bowl, mostly because that is where the food gets deposited each morning and evening. Yet, she knows it is the source of food, but not the only source of food. My spoiled girl receives a revolving selection of dog dishes including decorator muffin pans, which she uses to portion herself throughout the day (although my pet as a child never got more than one nasty red bowl that probably had more germs than a middle-school locker room).
So when she traveled with me eleven hours to the dealership where my shiny, new car awaited me, she would be the creature who would keep me from crying when I pulled away from the lot and left my beloved Delano to become someone else’s car. Certainly you might think the excitement of a new vehicle after thirteen years and more than a quarter of a million miles would be enough to ward off the melancholy of walking away from a vehicle that took me to opposite edges of the country, to new jobs and new adventures, and to one last night of camping together (see Our Last Inanimate Night Together from January 2021). As I emptied all the final accoutrements from the vehicle, leaving only the instruction manual and the set of snow tires, I pulled up on the emergency brake one last time and climbed out of the driver’s seat forever.
Pompey and I took our first outing together in Delano. We drove from her temporary home at the animal sanctuary to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in southern Utah. She spent a fair portion of the drive trying to climb into my lap, although she’s never been a lap dog in practice. When I drove through the slick, snowy, sketchy, county roads of Carbon County, Wyoming over Thanksgiving, just hours after I officially adopted her, she braved the cold and ice in a cautious way that gave me the courage to do the same in Delano. When we moved from Utah to North Dakota, she sat by my side in Delano’s front seat. She and Delano were my constant companions, although, she’s the kind of girl who will always say, “Yes,” to a car ride, even if it is just to the gas station for a fill up, in any vehicle.
I knew at some point I would witness my last glimpse of Delano, and begin a new chapter with my Gashopper, but she would help me keep a stiff upper lip. I expected her to again be my rock when we finished loading the jumper cables and snow brush into our new vehicle. When I finally finished all the paperwork to sign, seal, and send me on my way, Pompey stretched away from me, extending her leash to its greatest length, and looked at the closed door of Delano. She knew which car was hers, except that it wasn’t hers, or mine, any longer. I convinced her to hop into the car we would now call ours (hers and mine) and she looked through the glass into the vehicle next to us that took us everywhere we needed to go together. Neither of us managed to be brave and strong when we needed to be, but at least she didn’t keep looking in the rear-view mirror as we pulled away.