Mater and I bonded immediately. He was a yellow lab, like my older dog, Ike. When Cory would watch Ike for me, he was Mater's best friend, whether he wanted to be or not. Ike loved to fetch, and Mater would run right behind him until Ike picked up the thrown stick. Mater would then latch on to the other end and let Ike leade him around.
Mater loved spending time with Ike; Ike exhibited a grumpy patience with Mater, and being with them both filled me with a quiet happiness that's difficult to explain to someone who's never experienced it for themselves: the comfort of the fall, the quiet simplicity of the sun, the contentedness of furry warmth, and the omnipresence of being these creatures' utmost importance.
Both Mater and Ike had their share of close calls - Ike nearly succumbing to a pancreatitis; Mater being run over by a tractor. The soft farm manure that he sunk into left him suffering only a broken leg.
Ike was already an old man by the time Mater came along, and a few years later Ike was just too tired to go on any longer.
Mater continued to greet me with his boundless joy, even though I visited him alone now. I saw him for one of the last times when Jack was recovering from open heart surgery. He told me that he had made sure everyone knew that if anything happened to him, Mater was to come to me.
Mater had always been a bright point in the world; knowing he was out there and safe enabled me to feel that quiet happiness, even at a distance.
And now, he's gone, and while the world is now a bit darker, it's still brighter than it would have been if Mater the blind dog had never come along. Those two silly yellow labs are playing fetch with each other again, together always in my heart's fondest memories.