Once upon a dog 2.0


After DH #1 and I got our horribly ugly (and not all that sweet) dog, we noticed that she was decidedly un-doglike so we determined she was depressed. The obvious answer was that she needed a canine companion. She had grown up with another dog, so having another dog in the house would surely make her happy. In truth, much like the decision to get the un-doglike dog, the diagnosis of depression and the prescription for another dog to cure it was entirely mine. DH was just sort of along for the ride, essentially powerless to fight against my persuasion and his spinelessness. What we later came to realize is that our first dog was not depressed at all, but instead just an unfixable crab.

So off I went to the pound to find a dog for us. I wasn’t working at the time so I figured I could easily stay home and keep two dogs entertained. I found the perfect dog for us- a border collie/lab mix. Ugly dog got along well with him at the pound so I brought him home. It was all downhill from there. He peed in the house, so ugly dog peed on top of it. He pooped in the house, so ugly did the same. They were at each other ALL the time. I knew I had made a horrible mistake. I called the pound a couple of days later and told them I was bringing the dog back. I cried the whole way there and when I got there they made me feel so horrible that I told them to just keep the $75 adoption fee and ran away.

A couple months later I got a call from the pound asking me what I wanted to do with the $75 they had on their books for me. I told them what had happened and the woman told me I should come back down and see if I could find a dog that was a better fit. So, I dragged DH along and off we went. I remember walking down the row of dogs and seeing lots of cute dogs and puppies. DH wanted to get a light colored lab mix and I could have been persuaded until I saw the puppies in the last cage on the left. There were two of them and they were adorable. They were black lab/hound mixes and they were about 9 weeks old. As with most things, I won that battle and we picked the one who seemed friendlier.

We took him home and immediately it was a better fit for ugly dog since she was able to dominate him from the start. What wasn’t a good fit was the holy terror of this puppy. Although he was adorable, he whined in his crate, pooped and peed in the house and generally couldn’t be controlled very well. We flunked out of obedience school (after he ate his homework). As he got bigger two things became apparent. One was that he would eat anything, whether it was edible or not. This included checkbooks, phones, calculators, candles, candleholders and part of a ceramic gargoyle. The second this was that the pound had no idea what kind of dog he was. The promise of a lab mix vanished as he sprouted wiry hair, bushy eyebrows and a full beard. The promise of a 60 lb. dog vanished as he maxed out at close to 100 lbs.

Through it all he was a consistently sweet, gentle, but uncontrollable dog. Walking him was a chore. Because I didn’t weigh that much more than him I couldn’t keep him away from other dogs and he dictated where we went. He walked me into a telephone pole where I smashed my hand. He yanked the leash out of my hand and gave me a rope burn. He once pulled so hard on the leash that I went flying and landed on my stomach. He crashed through gates, he ate through his crate. He escaped from the yard and was once found on a farm 4 miles away. When DH #2 met him, big dog whacked him in the junk with his tail. But, he was a 100 lb lap dog. He was happy when he was with me and loved nothing more than curling up with me. He was exuberant and full of life.

People were always asking us what kind of dog he was or offering up their theories on what he was. The one consistent thing is that people referred to him as handsome, and he was. He had a very regal and wise looking face. We eventually did figure out what kind of dog he was, and no part of his breed was suited to him living with us. The list of things that he required was like a checklist of what we didn’t have but by that point we were already about six years into the relationship so all we could do was apologize to him and try to accommodate his neuroses.

When M came home from the hospital, the first thing big dog did was lick his chops over and over. It didn’t seem like things were going to end well. By the end of the week he was asleep next to her crib every night. He paced when she cried. He came and got me when she somehow fell out of her bouncy seat during my shower. But he would also whack her in the head with his tail and step on her feet. As with anything else, he was lovably frustrating.

Once F came, we really didn’t have as much time for him as we should have. We pretty much sucked as dog owners but he didn’t seem to mind. He got older and grayer but still had the spirit of a puppy. I tried to ignore what I had read about the life expectancy of a dog his size because I couldn’t think about him not being around. Then in January of this year I found a lump on his head and I thought maybe it was an ear infection or just a bump. At the vet’s office, I knew it was more serious when the vet called me by name. It was bone cancer in his head and he was given 4-6 months to live and no real treatment options. I was advised to make his life as wonderful as possible until he had to come in again.

So we tried. I took him for more walks, I let him sleep in our bed and sit on the couch. We fed him steak and hamburgers. He did ok for a while and seemed like himself but with a lump. Then a few weeks ago, he started slowing down. He wasn’t eating as much and wasn’t acting like himself. I knew it was time. I scheduled an appointment for June 1st to put him to sleep. By the time the day came he could barely and had a look in his eyes like he was ready to go. Still I sobbed all the way home from our last walk together.

I took him to the vet and laid on the floor with him when they sedated him. I stayed with him for an hour until he passed away. I told him that he was a good, sweet boy and blubbered all over him. It was awful. When I came home I was halfway to let him out to go potty before I realized what I was doing. All day today I felt like I was missing something and I realized I was just missing him.

Big dog, I hope you’re in dog heaven that’s filled with crotches to sniff, checkbooks to eat, and space to run. I will miss you.


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