Alexander April 1996 - July 2006
Ten year old second daughter was grieving the loss of a boy-buddy who moved.
She was taking it hard. I thought a puppy might cheer her up and give her something to do for the summer.
I went to a pet store that had three horse watering tubs with puppies in them. They were labeled small, medium and large. There was one puppy who was consistently escaping the medium sized puppy pool - that should have been my first warning. He was round, fuzzy, mostly black with droopy ears - mutt deluxe. And he kept running around my feet. We were looking for the smallish. But not too fussy dog to sleep at the foot of the girl's bed. I asked after the escapee as they dumped him in for the third time. He was listed as "Rottweiler/Shepherd/Doberman" No chance - maybe a little shepherd - not the other two. My second warning was when the lady said "You can have him half-price, and we will throw in a bag of dogfood free - a free visit with the vet next door was included.
I thought about what kind of person would buy a "rottweiler/shepherd/doberman".
I asked for a leash and walked the pup into the vet's. "What do you think this is?" I said. The staff, including the doc said terrier- maybe a little shepherd - the doc guessed an adult weight of 35 lbs. I took the pup home for daughter's 10th birthday.
The girl named him Alexander the Great
The terrier turned out to be Airedale.
The ears stood up.
His fur turned kind of golden.
He was paper trained in one day, and then forever preferred it to grass.
Never pooped on a walk - not once in ten years.
He flunked puppy kindergarten because he would not work for treats
He grew the legs of a reindeer, the nose of a horse, and the ears of a bat
And he was a runner - all legs and barrel chest - if he got off leash or through an open door there was no way to catch him - he would head for the horizon and never look back.
Except that he loved people and was trusting and did not believe it was possible that they would betray him. So, if he was running from you (which was just fun, not bad behavior) you could yell to any stranger - "His name is Alex - call him and hold him". And they would, and he would, and then he would have to most amazing look of disbelief "You're gonna turn me in????"
The first time he got away and was gone over night, he was really young. We were all worried - daughters were sleepless. #2 prayed "God keep Alex safe and help me find him" She went to school the next day dejected. It was show and tell day. She told "My puppy ran away and we can't find him" The girl in the next desk told "We found a puppy last night" Alex had spent the night with a golden retriever named Gwen, in a household with a child, in our child's school, in our child's class. Daughter believes in prayer.
He loved Christmas - he totally understood presents. He liked to unwrap his own which we put in newspaper. He loved stuffed animals that squeaked - the terrier need was to shake them real hard and then rip their squeakers out. CareBears lasted the best. He took the nose off daughter#1's favorite bear once but with much training he came to understand 'my bear' not 'you bear'. After he killed his bears he would carry them around in his mouth and sleep with their remnants for weeks - I think that was the shepherd part.
He tried to herd the family cat - this did not work any better than herding Quakers.
He loved visitors - it only took him eight years to learn not to bounce.
He grew to 80 pounds - daughter#2 had trouble walking him. He loved Children better than anything, but he was scary -
He never knew this about himself -
He would have been appalled to understand that he looked like the big bad wolf - so he had to learn to respond to the command "Down Children" and flatten himself on the pavement before they would be allowed to approach. He would do ANYTHING to be greeted by a child.
He and the patriarch Orville became best buddies. Alex knew a lot about greenhouses. Orville claimed that Alex was never fed scraps from the table, it was purely love that kept the dog at attention at his chair, nose on his lap. It is the only fib I ever knew my father to tell. Alex didn't fib.
Once a stray cat got trapped in the garage where Alex slept - in the morning they were found curled up sleeping together.
When Daughter #1 went off to college, Alex cried and grieved, and accused me of being a stupid woman who couldn't keep track of her puppies for weeks. When she came home from College with a boy he was ecstatic - until they left.
He was never reconciled to the notion of family members leaving. Daughter #2 brought home a boy - He LOVED boys - but this boy wouldn't stay put either. Alex took what boy he could get.
He was once prayed for by name at West Richmond Friends Church. I was preaching and found out just before worship that he was gone again, and that the girls were very upset, and mommy the fixer was 2000 miles away. It seemed appropriate to ask the gathered friends to hold the dog and children in the Light. They did. He was found.
He was dedicated to his family
He was uniformly welcoming to strangers
He did not bark much
He never harmed a living creature
When father Orville died last year his friend took a nose-dive. With much intervention he was brought back, but continued to struggle. When his health went south again this week we didn't have the heart for anymore interventions. He did not appreciate modern medicine.
When he hadn't eaten for a week, drank for a day and was having trouble getting up. I made him an appointment for euthanasia.
He had no clue. He trusted us. They say it was quick and didn't hurt.
Hurt us - tons.
The Postman sat with me today and grieved - that is a pretty good doggy epitaph.
Peggy, I am so sorry to hear about Alex. Maybe we can have a memorial for him on Sunday? I hope the girls are taking this ok - first their grandpa, then Alex. Much love to you all,
the girls are ok. We all knew this was coming. I thinking that blogging a eulogy for the dear mutt was as much memorial as is needed.
My house is getting real quiet
good thing that I like quiet
It is a year now since I helped my brother take his beloved dog to be euthanized. It was just about the most awful thing I have ever done and it absolutely broke both our hearts. I very much feel for what you have been through with your dear doggie.
I am so sorry for your loss. People who don't have pets - especially big, furry, lovable pets - just don't get it.Post a Comment
We have had our current mutt for eight wonderful years now. Boomer is half Eskimo, half Lab, and all crazy.
He was preceded by Mutt #1 - Sandy - named for the Bruce Springsteen song we heard when we went to get her and when we were bringing her home from the shelter. Half collie, half retriever, we think. She was the best. I still get a little pang in my heart when I think of the day I had to take her to the vet for that last time. It's so hard when they look at you that way...
Peace to you and yours.
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