Maybe a corgi would get him to stop the obsession with being Welsh.
That’s the short version of how Attie came into the life — and heart — of Andrew Weeks nearly 15 years ago.
The short-legged puppy was a Father’s Day present, says Andrew’s ex-wife, Christine Weeks. The couple was living in Norfolk with two small children and they figured a dog would complete the family.
And besides, there was Andrew’s Welsh issue.
“He is 100% fake Welsh,” Christine said last week. “He’s seriously obsessed and everyone knows it.”
‘Tis true, said Andrew, who may or may not have Welsh blood, but who grew up with the myth and a fondness for the small country with its own Celtic language and dragon-adorned flag and funny wee dogs.
Andrew and Attie bonded from the start.
The attorney gave her an appropriate (although not Welsh) name: Atticus Finch Weeks, in honor of the justice-minded attorney in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Eventually, the family would move to Lincoln, expand the family — twin daughters now 12 — and become amicably divorced in 2017.
Attie grew old, and on Feb. 24, Andrew made that last trip to the veterinarian’s office.
He posted the news on Facebook, in the fashion of thousands of pet lovers mourning a loss.
He added photos. Attie with Andrew, when he had more hair. Attie with Christine. Attie with the kids, when they were pups, too.
He felt a lot of love from a lot of people, the 43-year-old said. “It’s such a common experience, everyone can kind of relate to it, but that dog is personal, too.”
Andrew started to write the ode to Attie months ago, as the little dog began her decline. He’d write and stop; come back to it and add something and revise.
He started with her bio, where she was born, where she died.
“Attie was a gift to Andrew for Father’s Day under the mistaken belief she would tone down his false claim to be Welsh,” he wrote. “Boy, did that backfire.”
He praised her herding skills and her personality.
“Adorable, loyal, loving, floofy, short, protective, stubborn, surprisingly fast — given her ears were longer than her legs — and very bossy.”
He noted her faux professional credentials: A juris dogtor from the University of Nebraska College of Law. Her proposed amendment to Art. II, Sec. 1 of the Constitution “to require dog ownership as a prerequisite to holding the office of President of the United States.”
He listed her human family and the “corgi-sized” hole in their hearts: Andrew, Christine (Dan Foy), Dawson, Ellie, Miley and Zoe Weeks of Lincoln, Nebraska.”
The loss, he wrote, “is particularly ruff on Andrew.”
You could hear it in his voice when we talked five days later, the attorney just home from picking up a memento from the vet — Attie’s paw print pressed in clay.
“I’m just kind of exhausted,” he said. “Emotionally spent.”
Andrew works mostly civil cases as a defense attorney at Baylor Evnen. Since last March, he’s been stationed at his home office, Attie underfoot.
“There were days when her presence felt like the only constant in an ever-changing world,” he wrote.
Attie wasn’t a super affectionate dog. She wasn’t a cuddler. But she’d glue herself to his side. When he’d roll back his office chair, he did it carefully so he didn’t run her over.
He misses that.
Her herding instincts came out when the kids were small. If Andrew scolded them for something, Attie would bark in support. She’d nudge them with her nose, like she was corralling sheep.
The last time the mobile groomer came by she finished sprucing up Attie’s coat and trimming her nails, then posed a question: How do you think Attie’s doing?
“I think she was politely telling me you need to start thinking about this,” Andrew says. “At some point here, I gotta face up to it.”
The vet had already warned him that something was wrong with Attie’s liver. Watch for signs of weakness, she said.
And Attie did get weak. Her back legs would give out. She’d go outside and fall over. Sometimes she’d sleep so hard it scared Andrew. She’d bark at nothing, seemingly confused. Her eyesight began to fail.
He made an appointment to put her down. He canceled it.
And then it was time.
“He misses stepping over her,” he wrote, “telling her what a good and cute dog she is and watching her nap in goofy positions.”
In the end, Andrew wrote 321 words in honor of his family’s best friend.
His “faithful companion through thick and thin.” The dog that took a family through babies and teenagers and moves and divorce.
The glue through it all, Andrew says.
His 30-pound claim to the Welsh in him.
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Reach the writer at 402-473-7218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @TheRealCLK