To my mind Roger Ebert, “film critic since time immemorial”, did his best work in the last years of his life, after losing the ability to speak. In this 2009 installment of Roger Ebert’s Journal, he wrote about his childhood pets and how he longed for decades to have another dog:
Every time I see a dog in a movie, I think the same thing: I want that dog. I see Skip or Lucy or Shiloh and for a moment I can’t even think about the movie’s plot. I can only think about the dog. I want to hold it, pet it, take it for walks, and tell it what a good dog it is. I want to love it, and I want it to love me.
I want to make its life a joy. I want to scratch behind its ears, and on its belly when it rolls over. I want to gently extend its tail so the dog can tell it’s a fine tail indeed.
Mr. Ebert died today at the age of 70.