Monday, February 4, 2013
Remembering a Great Dog - Foster 2000-2013
When a kennel client brought me her new puppy to watch, I reacted to "Bear" with uncharacteristic cooing and fawning over the pup. I even made my husband come out and look at how cute he was. He was only 8 weeks old and the owner bought him from a pet store three days prior. Not a fan of pet stores, I suspected the dog as doomed to some unknown health issues due to its likely beginning at a puppy mill. Still, I was charmed by the happy, confident demeanor. He was housebroken quickly, followed me around as much as I'd let him, and took crazy risks that most dogs would never try. For instance, he was walking around on my back porch and went to the edge. It was like his little brain was trying to calculate if a 6 foot drop was really that risky. Before I knew it, he leaped. No problem. I watched the little guy often as the owner travelled a lot. I fell hard for him. When the owner had to move and told me she couldn't take him with her, I tried to say no for a whole month before finally saying yes when the owner was literally on her way to the humane society to drop him off. With the new name of Foster, the now seventh month old officially took over dominion of his new home and property, just like he seemed born to do. He saw me through a lot of difficulty and he brought a lot of joy to myself and others. Foster had swagger. Sometimes, it was a bit too much. He was a bit of the playground bully with other dogs. He wanted to be in charge of all space and time. For the most part, he was. The first time another dog he snarled at fought him back, he was put out for over a week. It's hard to realize one is not invincible and it was hard for him too. The first time the vet told me Foster was getting old, I was surprised. I mean, I shouldn't have been, but I was. After a year of being completely blind and losing most of his hearing, life was getting very challenging for Foster (and it was no picnic for me either). I realized that he was never going to give up, that he'd push himself well beyond what he could comfortably do. While his body wasn't breaking down in ways that other old dogs often due, I had to face some hard truths. Sometimes you don't know you've done the right thing until after you've done it. The decision about Foster was one that plagued me for literally months, intensifying and stressing me in his final weeks. After many prayers asking for guidance were answered clearly, I knew it was time. Still, I waited until I had to make the decision. And once it was all over, it was clearly the right thing. It was good of a bad decision as I could make. Somehow, I think he was as relieved as I was. Some avoid having a pet simply because the pain of losing them is too great. While I understand that, I believe that the enjoyment and love that characterize the majority of our time with our pets far outweighs the heartbreak. After all, choosing to love is a risky proposition. However, it is a good one.