My dog Romulus was born to a breeder in Summerville, SC. How exactly he came to live in my cousin's trailer in a park, I do not know. I do know that heir 18 month old daughter wanted a dog, so they decided to spend 300 dollars on a miniature --male-- apricot poodle they named Maggie.
When they decided they couldn't buy both dog and people food, they gave him to me when he was three months old. The rest of the family was happy to hasten this process, as I was 20 years old, attending a woman's college and making noises about wanting a baby. (I-don't-need-a-man-to-have-a-baby-and-I-can-definitely-still-travel-to-Africa-with-the-baby-strapped-to-my-back-thinking-it's-cool-all-the-while kind of noises.) I named him Romulus because my first dog was to be a Doberman pinscher, and I thought it would be rude to not apply the name I'd already chosen.
Romulus attended that same woman's college with me. He lived in the dorm room I held in the senior dorm. I had a job, two majors and a position editing the school paper, so I was gone a lot. I left a key accessible to anyone, and he was basically the dorm's pet. He would hop into a shoulder bag (my precursor to baby wearing and SO before stoopid Hollywood girls), allow himself to be zipped, and would then magically appear in a sunny dale somewhere he could run, frolic and be petted by gaggles of college women.
Even when I couldn't afford books or clothes, I made sure Romulus had real-meat dog food for the first year of his life.
He marched on Washington DC and on Roanoke Virginia in gay rights marches. We were there. He even helped out by humping someone else's dog, much to the delight of some prancing lot of gay dudes.
Romulus sat with me and the rest of the pack of illicit dorm dogs on the hill overlooking my own college graduation. I was short two credits and didn't march, but we were there.
Romulus was addicted to tennis balls. I can't think of a time, when he was hale, that our arms outlasted his desire to play fetch. He would even play fetch with himself, or other dogs, by throwing the ball himself.
My dog rode the bicycle with me (feet on the handlebars) and would climb up playground ladders so he could slide down the slides on his butt. He loved to swim, once he got over his initial fear of water. He loved it when we lived in houses by the beach, and didn't mind the sand burrs until it took me hours to get them out of his cotton coat. He earned his middle name "Snack," by really not heeding what body of water he dove headlong into-- whether it had alligators or sharks, it made no difference to him.
He was an intense, instant and accurate judge of character. He disliked hunters and crapped on the bedspread of a roommate who was stealing from me-- right in front of the both of us-- while staring her in the eye. He was still doing people-judging when we met Niki. He wanted her to cuddle him in her lap, and would jump right up, not really caring that she doesn't like that.
My dog Romulus slept with me, under the covers, for the first five years of his life. When I moved in with my future husband, he promptly ditched me and started sleeping on Paul’s side of the bed--- but would wait until he thought I was asleep before crawling over there. Paul attributes this to his ability to scratch tummies while he sleeps.
He knew my Grandparents. He knew me before I knew my husband. He met my children when they were born. He kept his affection for small dark confines until he died today at the age of seventeen.
Romulus was the last to go out of our family pack of four dogs. He was an emotional, moody and fricking brilliant dog, and reeled from each loss as they passed on to the Rainbow Bridge. Now they are all together, and he'll know it's them because he can finally see again.