1) When he was clean his forehead always smelled like corn chips. So did the pads of his feet.
2) He hated any sharp cracking sound. This limited our use of the fireplace we had for four years in Richmond. Our next-door neighbor there had a pool table in his garage, and when he used it Zeke would shivver in the corner. At the previous place, in downtown Oakland, when people brought out their fireworks (and worse) on July 4, he’d hide in the bathtub.
3) I took him hiking once in the Marin Headlands and he almost ate a Mission Blue butterfly, which is critically endangered.
4) He needed to watch the road when I drove. On very long trips of more than a couple hours he’d eventually settle down in the back and snooze, but every time I’d use the turn signal he’d jump up again. He was never one of those dogs who loved to hang his head out the car window: he needed to watch straight ahead to see where we were going.
5) One day, offleash in Sunol Regional Park, he saw a ground squirrel a hundred yards away and covered that distance in about six seconds. He wasn’t even slowed down by the barbed wire fence between them, though he did yelp fairly loud as he passed through it. I never found any evidence of barbedwire-related cuts or bruises, but he only needed to learn that lesson once.
6) Also in Sunol: when he was about one year old we did a long hike off-trail down a canyon that in one spot was choked with poison oak, which he crashed right through. Past the poison oak there was a deep pool, and I pushed him into it to try to get at least a little of the oil off him. It may or may not have made a difference: neither of us got a rash. But it was a number of years before he ever got between me and a pool of water after that.
7) He didn’t swim. He liked to wade, and he liked to lie down in water, but he never wanted to get in water more than about a foot deep.
8) I came home from a week in the desert once and he wouldn’t let me in the house before he had thoroughly licked every square millimeter of my face. I don’t know whether that was reunion joy, or hygiene, or my campfire/salt-flavored skin. Probably some of each.
9) He was scared of some inanimate things, but he assumed almost every living thing he ever met would be his friend. (Exceptions included squirrels, which were for chasing, and rats and mice, which were for killing unless they were family members.) He loved horses and cats and dogs and coyotes and (often) small children, and he greeted strangers with joy all but once. On the two or three occasions when he met a dog who turned out to be unfriendly, he bore a heartrending expression of deep disappointment for an hour after.
10) A body memory: I can still feel his chest leaning against mine as he stood on the driver’s seat of my truck, peering out the window at whoever I was talking to: cops, drive-thru people, rangers at National PArk entrance kiosks, toll-takers, and various other people. It’s almost as if he’s only been gone a few minutes.