He was so small when he arrived, just a little black ball of kicking feet, the runt of the litter. At five weeks old he should have been suckling at his mothers side, but she was gone and so where his siblings. We were all he had in the world, he needed us and he was our first. We fed him with a bottle for the first few weeks, kept him warm with a heating blanket and stayed close in case he needed us.
I’d had dogs growing up but as a new family he was the first one we had ever had. He wasn’t the smartest of dogs, but he loved us and we loved him. Of course, he didn’t stay small for very long. In no time at all he was bounding around the house, knocking over everything in his path. Like most puppies, his feet grew much faster then the rest of him.
There were times that having a young dog was less then pleasant, there was the puking incident in the back seat of my new car (in his defense though, he did clean most of it up before I was able to get to it) and that fateful 4th of July night.
We are originally from San Diego; people in SD don’t light off fireworks themselves, the professionals do it. We knew people were allowed to shoot off fireworks up here and went to a friend’s house for that very purpose, leaving the dog at home. It wasn’t as though we expected a massive fireworks battle to go on between our neighbors in our absence. That is of course exactly what went down, with our young dog alone at home certain that the world was coming to an end. He never fully recovered from that night (our carpet never did either) and from that point forward had to be sedated the nights that fireworks were allowed to be used.
At one hundred plus pounds, he was the biggest pussy you were ever likely to run into. His voice however could scare away a burglar at half a mile away. He had that deep hound dog bark that would wake you up from the deepest of sleep. Once you got in the door though, he would hide behind anything that was handy till he was sure it was safe.
It started with cancer, as it so often does. An ever growing lump on his leg and chest, we got it removed but it just came back in spades. He wasn’t as fast any more; the younger dogs could get him to play but he tired quickly. The cancer riddled his body, his lungs.. He didn’t complain, but he didn’t get up as quickly as he used to. At the end he just laid there most of the time, moving from room to room to be close to us. He didn’t want to be alone anymore, he knew.
We took him on that last ride today; the other dogs won’t understand why he never came back. It’s hard to say goodbye but it isn’t right to make him suffer just to so we can postpone the pain of losing him. I hope that some day, someone will love me enough to do the same for me. I’ll carry the hole in my heart he used to fill for the rest of my life as will all of us touched by him.
Good bye my old friend, I’ll see you again, just there on the other side.