I almost did another blog on our dog Doogie last week. Our poodle mutt has been a popular blog topic in the past and I know my reading audience includes a number of dog lovers. I didn't though because I wanted to take a couple new pictures of Doogie to post along with my blog. But I never had enough free time to take the pictures. And now it's too late.
We lost our aging pet this past weekend. Though we knew he was somewhat living on borrowed time since he passed his 15th birthday this past June, he had been doing fine right up to Saturday night. Late that night I dreamt hearing irregular panting sounds-- two breaths and a pause, two breaths and a pause--eventually slowing down. It was like some old steam engine train slowing down as it neared its final destination.
Then I woke up and kept hearing it. It was our dog's irregular breathing. By now Wendy had heard it too. She looked over the side of the bed and saw Doogie lying there, but with his head up and his legs in a peculiar posture. I turned on the light and we could see our dog was dying.
He tried to get up but couldn't stand and fell back down. Wendy carried him downstairs as I got my youngest son Scott who was still up and watching TV, having come home from East Lansing for the weekend. Scott was always close with Doogie, even away at MSU. Once I had mentioned in an e-mail how we were forced to put Doogie down in the basement because he wouldn't let us sleep with his panicking during a night-time thunderstorm.
Scott's e-mail response included the comment, "Please don't start out a paragraph with 'put Doogie down...' from now on. That scared the *#$* out of me." So now Scott was able to gently pet his Doogie until he finally lay still. Didn't take long, but I think it brought a little comfort to them both. I never got a chance to give him a goodbye hug.
This wasn't Doogie's first brush with death. About five months ago he became violently ill, stopped eating, and had so much trouble walking I felt sure he was on his last legs. But after a couple trips to the vet, he pulled through. After that, we decided to let him eat what he wanted. That meant no more dog food, which he usually just sniffed at and left in his dish anyway of late.
In a way, he became king mutt of the house. That's what I had planned to blog about last week: how our lives had evolved around him lately. It used to be my wife would make dinners that all of us would like, including the boys. Now that the boys are no longer home, I had a bit more say in the menu. But lately when I'd ask why we were having a particular dish that night, Wendy would say: "The dog likes it." What??! The dog likes it!
Or like the other day when I told Wendy that I had eaten a leftover hot dog in the refrigerator, she scolded, "Why did you eat that? I was saving it for the dog." Couldn't even scavenge for snacks out of my own refrigerator?
And if the dinner menu didn't cater to king mutt's taste, I sometimes had to go to McDonalds. Doogie liked the double cheeseburger off the dollar menu. His ears began to perk up when he heard the word 'McDonalds.' Though our eldest son Greg, the nutrition guru, was aghast that we would feed our dog fast food, our dog had something exciting to look forward to in his golden years--dinner time. As Wendy would often say, "Lucky dog, lucky dog."
Doogie reveled in his new role. He was one happy dog, especially at suppertime, just like Snoopy. And like Snoopy he tried to get his way in everything. He'd even bark from upstairs at night, telling us it was time to go to bed. And when he'd hop down off our bed in the morning and scratch at the door, that meant it was time to get up. Hopefully it wasn't before 5 a.m.
Now the king is dead. There won't be another to take his place. We already miss the way he would lie on the couch with his front legs crossed. Or coo like a dove when he was in a particularly giddy mood. Or bark to let me know dinner or breakfast was on the table since I always shared a bite with him. Or the way he'd get excited at the word "pizza" since he'd get a few bites of that as well. He used to even watch out the window for the deliveryman. As we often said, he was the pizza hound.
We'll miss playing our favorite joke on him. When Doogie would bark incessantly in the kitchen, demanding a treat, Wendy or I would run over to him and say excitedly, "What's wrong, Doogie? Is Timmy in the well? Is Timmy in the well???!!" To which Doogie would bark even more incessantly. I don't think he ever got the joke. But probably a lot of people wouldn't either.
We'll miss hearing his footsteps coming up the stairs, we'll miss him watching out the front window for us, I'll miss writing the blogs he inspired.
The king is dead. And his kingdom is in mourning.