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  • Writer's pictureMark Rubin

R&B: Canine Corps Update

Osbourne Earl Smith aka Ozzie Smith – no, not the baseball player, but his namesake – died a few minutes before 9:00 a.m. on February 9, 2022. Our – Leigh’s and my – sadness has not found its bottom.

When Leigh and I started Rubin & Bernstein PLLC on April 1, 2018, our Canine Corps included two Corgis, June Carter and Ozzie Smith, and a Schnauzer / Terrier mix, Max Atticus Finch. Less than four years later, June and Ozzie have passed. Max heads up the Doggie Department now, with no real prep and no one to supervise. (Okay, I’m the manager. Cool beans. Who do I manage?) Max has Sechel … and legs long enough to hop up on a couch – or, even, our conference table – to provide a visitor with some level of comfort. So, we’ll get along, but we hope Max has no ego, for reaching C level and having no one to manage challenges many who walk upright.

Alas, enough about Max. Leigh and I are law partners and, as a local private sleuth noted in a feat of detecting, a couple in every sense. Leigh has always worked late and I’m an early man. So, for at least a couple of years, our routine involved Leigh parking in the alley behind my house at the end of the day and letting the dogs do their business, before we shared adult beverages and the issues of the day.

Ball came, along with the drinks. June and Ozzie went up and down the hall, and there was never any wearing Ozzie out. Max? Like a distraction, playing his own game, perpendicular to the others.

2021 was a tough year. Ozzie came up lame at Leigh’s place. A month’s rest brought him back, but not to 100%. Ball went away. And June got slower and slower. Finally, on July 1, her time arrived. And then there were two.

The last several months brought us a new set of experiences. A friend’s dog passed and his new pup, Roz Franklin, drove Ozzie nutso. Max too.* But, as Leigh and I started reengaging, so did Ozzie. We all returned to work and, a bit, to play. Ozzie and Max stayed together when we’d walk to dinner, without any incidents. Plenty of walking, too, albeit slowly.

For reasons we will never understand, Old Ozzie returned. Reenergized. Ball every night, albeit only four or five times. (Our restriction.) Fussing a bit when I’d lift him into the car, to let me know he knew – at least in his mind – that he was perfectly capable of getting into a car by himself. (Often, he’d start walking away from the car, likely forgetting that he’d arrived from work in the car and planning to walk the block to his house.) On Tuesday evening, about 12 hours before he passed, he was bouncing on all fours with excitement when Leigh returned to take Ozzie home, after having a drink with a friend.

Ozzie had a way of entering a room that will make me smile, always. First through the door. Barking to trumpet his arrival … and, more to the point, to let the world know His Lady was present. Of a piece, it was, with sitting by the gate to wait for Leigh’s return, or just inside her front door for the same purpose. A Little Man he was, devoted to Leigh ... and she to him!

One more Ozzie story. On my first visit to Rochester to see my daughter, she took me to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Way cool, by the way! We walked in and saw, immediately, a photo of Ozzie Smith – yes, the St. Louis Cardinals shortstop – next to the ticket booth. “Is Mr. Smith still here,” I inquired. “So sorry, he left an hour ago.” Then Cate pulled me aside and said, “Please say you weren’t going to tell him your girlfriend named her dog after him.” I straightened up, puffed out my chest, and said, “Well, yes I was!”

Ozzie rests in peace, on his bed, with bits of Lyle – a favored, chewed up stuffie – and ball close by. Sadly, nothing remains of Chicken Man, another stuffie he’d chase, while Leigh would cry out, He’s everywhere, he’s everywhere. Ozzie is everywhere for us, and we miss him dearly!

*In October, in Phoenix on a Saturday, I asked Leigh to see if Max might want to visit the office. She reported that, bed headed, he wandered out to the gate, ready for some weekend work. Roz barked out her excitement from the rear of the car. Max stopped and cocked his ear, heard the next bark, and turned tail and went back inside.

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