Sunday, August 5, 2018

Obituary: Billy R. Dryden, 8/22/03-7/20/18

Billy Ray Dryden went to be with Jesus on Friday, July 20, 2018. Moments after greeting him at the pearly gates Jesus is reported to have announced, “I can’t deal with this nonstop barking,” and took off for parts unknown.

Billy was born on Aug. 22, 2003 in Pomfret Center, Conn. On Nov. 22, 2003, he was adopted by Judith and Thomas Dryden but he rarely acknowledged his father; Billy was, heart and soul, from the moment he was placed in her arms as a two-pound puppy, his mama’s boy. Their love for one another was pure and absolutely unconditional. Billy could do no wrong in his mother’s eyes. For nearly 15 years he was tucked under her arm 24/7 and, on the rare occasions she was out of his sight, barked hysterically, even when she tried to have some privacy in the bathroom. 

As those who knew him will attest, Billy was vocal. He barked at thunder. He barked at lightening. He barked at fireworks. He barked whenever the phone or doorbell rang. He barked whenever a phone or doorbell on TV rang. He barked at the pool man, the yard men, at postal workers and UPS/FedEx drivers. He barked at his neighbors George and Mary. He barked at children. He barked at adults. He barked at other dogs, at lizards on the lanai and he barked especially loud whenever his father attempted to hold a conversation with his mother.

He loved Costco rotisserie chicken, frolicking through the snow of his native Connecticut, and riding in the car where he always slept on his mother’s lap, the one time his parents could talk to one another without having to scream.

Billy was a hero. In 2007, he discovered that a miniature shark his human brother Stuart had adopted years before — a fish that was supposed to live for a year or two but was six years old at that point —  had somehow leapt out of the aquarium and landed behind a chair. Billy began barking. His mother took no notice since Billy always barked whenever she wasn’t holding him. His barking became increasingly agitated, as he tried to paw his way under the chair. She realized he was trying to tell her something, just like Lassie used to tell Hugh Riley and June Lockhart that Timmy had fallen into a well. His mother was able to pick up the shark with a spatula and slip it back in the fish tank. The shark, alas, suffered brain damage because, from that day until his death several years later, he could only swim counter-clockwise, but his life was saved thanks to the bravery and persistence of a nine-pound long-haired black-and English cream dachshund. 

Billy was predeceased by his dachshund sister, Bonnie, who tricked him out of his breakfast every day for 13 years by standing at the door barking, pretending to see something, which always made him run to the door where he would bark at nothing for 10 minutes as she doubled back and inhaled his food. Survivors include his dachshund brother, Rupert, whom he welcomed into the family last year and loved dearly; his mongrel Great Pyrenees/Greyhound bitch of a niece Topanga, whom he despised, especially after she tried to swallow him whole under the Christmas tree when he stole the toy Santa had brought her; his father; and the love of his life and reason for being, his mother. 

He was cremated and, at his mother’s request, the little lacquer box in which his ashes repose will someday be placed alongside her body in her coffin, so they can spend eternity the same way they spent their life on earth together—with him tucked safely under her arm.

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