I grew up an emancipated minor, I'll leave that at that. However as a kid I always wanted a dog. I did want to be responsible about it however, so I said when I got a good/stable job/career, I'd get one, and not before.
13+ years ago I started my research, taking surveys and investigating temperment/size/etc trying to prepare to be a good dog-parent. German Shephers were always on the top 3. I went to a demonstration to see them up close and started talking to one of the handlers of a particularly striking (and big!
) male. He said they had a recent litter and perhaps one of them would be a good match. Now, I'll admit, a pack of rowdy puppies is hard to choose from - I wanted to take them all! But I told the breeder in the end to send me the friendly one, because I couldn't decide.
...I think he sent me the biggest one because a 15 week old baby moose arrived at my house - all ears and a huge long tail and paws the size of the palm of my hand! A massive bundle of energy, unending play drive and a sweet, loving temperment...what's a few books pulled out of the bookshelves or a gnawed-on wallet or two (Credit cards are bad anyway, right?)...
I lived in NYC back then and she would always sleep against the front door...no convincing her that we lived in a pretty safe neighborhood would convince her to do otherwise - and the night she chased a burglar out of the house (at 1.5 years old), she won. I took her to dog runs every day for the first almost 5 years of her life, with my friends joking she had more of a social life than I did! She went to see a couple of the smaller NYC parades with me and was showered with praise for how well she behaved in such crowds. At 5 I did the hip x-rays for evaluation and they weren't bad, they were awful. The vets eyes got big as I described her fairly routine runs with her Pharoh Hound buddy or the wrestling matches with the rottweiler and male pitt bull. At his recommendation, the days of living at the dog run gradually ended - I was too afraid of a massive break bringing a sudden tragic end.
She did well with long walks through the woods and a few moves as I was laid off repeatedly. At age 9, a man tried to mug me and she would have none of it - it was only the second time in her life she showed fang to a human (the first being the burglar) - she went straight for this guys face, and would've bitten him if I hadn't held her back. She got a big steak for that.
One of her favorite hobbies in her later years was to goose people. I'm not talking your usual butt-sniffing here, but finding ppl she liked...sneaking around behind them while I conveniently (quite accidentally!) distracted them...and poked her victim right between the buttcheeks to see them hit the ceiling!
She seemed to think this was the best thing in all the world from the big smile and the waggin' tail. My last landlord was stalked this way for nearly 5 years (and nailed several times, poor guy)...lucky for us he had his own dog so he understood.....kindof. But he did usually remember to put his butt against a couch or the wall so when she came around he'd look at her and go "Nope - not this time!"
9 months ago I bought a house. One of my requirements was a decent sized fenced yard for her to lay out in, watch squirrels and birds and live out her last year(s). I found a fantastic newly renovated little house at the end of the street in a decent neighborhood with...a BIG fenced yard. Yay, says I, come spring there will be garden swings for me and warm sunny grass for her (and the occational trash-barking session with the Jack Russel across the way!)
In April she started to stumble and fall from time to time...then came urinary tract infections...then the diagnosis of cancer. We rarely got to go out in the yard, the terrain was too uneven for her to negotiate save on the very good days...there were a few of those, but not nearly as many as I would've liked, and the summer came early and laid on us so taking her out with her double coat more than a little while was a trial.
Friday morning I went to work and everything was fine...I came home to bloody pee puddles all over. Only two weeks before did we finish the last round of antibiotics for the same condition, and treating it over and over more and more aggressively just...wasn't fair with her overall health in decline. So I went to get her a Whopper and a large french fry (some of her favorite foods), and got one for me and we ate together Friday night (I think she ate most of my fries too). Saturday morning she dragged me down the stairs outside for the first time in a few months and laid out on the lawn for about half an hour or so, before the rains came. I called the vet, took her in in the afternoon, and they did the deed.
I know it was the right thing to do, but I can't seem to stop bawling my eyes out every half an hour or so that maybe I could've done more, you know?
I have some regrets - I guess we all do as first time parents, because we're still learning. One of my biggest regrets is that I have hardly any pictures...they were my enemy as a child and as a result I never owned a regular camera as an adult. I have a few pictures someone else took when she was a youngster, some x-mas pictures with Santa-Paws various years, and a handful from the past few weeks I packed into my phone. Take pictures and movies of your dogs, cats, kids - everyone/thing that is close to your heart. Don't be like me and have almost nothing to show for all those years you have together.
Xena (Wynstorms Warrior Princess)
7/5/99 - 9/8/12
A better dog than I deserved
A better companion than one could ask for.