Those of you who know us in real life know that we once had a dog. It doesn’t quite seem right to refer to Red as just “a dog.” Because he was really part of our family for many, many years. And he was really a remarkably wonderful dog. I’ve wanted to write about him for a while now.
It’s now been 2 years since Red died, and I still miss him very much.
If you ever call us on the phone, and we can’t get to the phone, we have an answering machine. Ever since John and I started living together, in our various homes, our answering machine message was always more or less the same: You have reached [our phone number], home of John, Alejna and Red. Please leave a message. This led many who called to believe that there were three humans living in our household, and occasionally that John and I had some sort of offspring.
At some point in this house, we got voicemail for our home phone, too. I don’t remember exactly why, but it came in handy if the power went out, or if we were unable to take a call that came in on call waiting. The message for that was the same as usual: You have reached [our phone number], home of John, Alejna and Red. Please leave a message. Except during that recording, Red barked.
After Red died, I changed the answering machine message. It made me too sad to reduce the names to just the two of us, so we just got the abbreviated version. You have reached [our phone number]. Please leave a message. But I didn’t want to record over the voicemail message, the one with Red’s bark. You see, it’s the only recording that I know of with Red’s bark. I don’t know if it means more to me than it would to other people since I work with sound, collect recordings as part of my professional work. Maybe any devoted dog-owner would feel equally attached to that one bark.
For the last 2 years I’ve intended to somehow retrieve that recording, and get it onto a computer. I know that there are ways to call phone numbers from a computer, such as Skype, but these generally involve a charge for that type of service. So I put it off. And the voicemail message stays the same.
People don’t often reach our voicemail, but it happens from time to time. Sometimes you just can’t gracefully switch over when a call comes in on call waiting. But I find myself rushing to try to answer the calls, to beat the voicemail. Because I’m sure it’s unsettling for people to get this message from another era, to hear that bark from the past.