Twelve years ago this October 2013 Kate and I brought home from the Toledo Humane Society a big furball mutt named Flick or Slick, they were unsure of his name. They didn’t know his exact age, but assumed he was 2-3 years old at that time based on his mild demeanor and calmness. They had had him for some time at the center, but not sure why. He did have ear infections and other allergy issues which may have attributed for the lack of interest in adoption. When we visited with him at the center we immediately knew he was the one. We both wanted a dog (we had just moved into our first house and only married just over a year) and he met the criteria we wanted; big, not a puppy and a rescue. In the room with him he could care less we were even there, but he was calm and happy to be out of the cage clearly. We were sold.
We sign all of the adoption papers and soon he was ours or rather he would own us. Packed him up in the car and drove home. The most memorable moment, humorous in ways, was he walks right into his new home and poops right on the dining room rug. We immediately wondered what the heck did we just get ourselves into. After that moment nothing like that occurred again.
About the name, I was set on calling him Mac (yes it is after my favorite computer). He never responded to the other names the humane society thought it was. They didn’t really know much about him. He supposedly grew up in a house with cats and he loved hot dogs. That was really it. Early on he was very particular with his food. Didn’t like lamb and rice foods. Really didn’t like dried foods we bought. We tried lots of diets, but none clicked. Also we would soon discover he had food allergies of corn and wheat which makes up most pet foods. He was our high maintenance boy. He was eating better than us with special salmon based food. It was worth it though. He was also still getting over ear infections when we brought him home as well. We got to know the vet’s office really well the first few months after adoption.
To say Mac and I clicked would be an understatement. I would walk him daily in our historic Old West End neighborhood. His mutt pedigree is part shepherd and part labrador which he lived up to the fullest with traits of each. He could use his paws really well with holding bones (which labs are known for) or his favorite rope toy and his ability of guarding the perimeter (shepherd) of his property was uncanny. A squirrel, mailman or just someone stepping foot within an inch of the yard he would know immediately by perking up and investigating which often times if he saw the very perpetrator would lead to a very deep intimidating bark. I’m still amazed how he could detect someone coming within his perimeter. He was really great at telling squirrels who was boss of his land. He was swift and good at hunting down squirrels while also being patient too. He would lay down next to a tree and wait till hopefully the squirrel would come back down. On one of the daily walks a squirrel dared test his skills. He caught it, but then realized he had no idea what to do with it. He let it go. The squirrel raced up the tree squawking not knowing what to make of this. I think this highlights so much about Mac. While looking intimidating with long black hair, 70-80 pounds of stocky girth, dark staring eyes and a deep bellowing growl and bark he was still the sweetest dog. In playing with him he was so gentle in his bite. Never biting or clamping down. He was a gentle giant. We had a visit from our 6 month old niece where it showed us how much of a caring guardian he was. The niece was laid down on a blanket and immediately he came over and laid right down next to her. It was touching.
He was self obedient in that he never bolted or went further than 2 houses away from his home. He only barked when necessary, again the mailman was priority one, never chewed on anything he wasn’t allowed to and just all around the perfect dog. He would get up on a couch to sleep, but we let it slide mostly. He would also tend to believe he was a lap dog with me which I was fine with for the most part. It was our bond.
He loved the snow so much. Being in Toledo where the snow wasn’t as prevalent as it is here in Cleveland he would certainly take advantage of the snow. First thing he would do is bury his head in the snow. He’d bite at snowflakes coming down. He’d do his own version of a snow angel rolling in the snow. He also had a happy “insane-o” run where he would run laps around with his butt close to the ground. Almost like watching a border collie rounding up the sheep. So amusing to watch. So full of happiness. He certainly enjoyed the move to Cleveland and the wonderful snowbelt back in 2007. The first winter produced back to back days of 17 inches of snowfall which was funny to watch the black furball trudge through, but he was happy. Like I said he loved snow, but he hated water including rain! Even though he was part lab he avoided water like Superman to kryptonite. Forget about baths because I ended up more wet than him. When it rained he always would make it the quickest and most direct pitstop. I never forced the issue nor minded.
2006 with the birth of our daughter he seemed to take it all in stride. Again he was guardian to her even though he was garnering less attention. I still would take him on walks around the block to keep him happy and exercise, but clearly he was becoming second fiddle to the child. I always strived to make time for him. Luckily he had an independent streak about him that helped with the new person in the house. He wouldn’t get jealous or act up over it. The only time we saw a “slight” was when we would go out of town on vacation where we couldn’t take him like to Hilton Head. We’d drop him off with dear friends of ours for these trips. Whenever we’d return he’d give me the “stink eye” or display some dissatisfaction over the temporary abandonment. I say abandonment because that’s what I picture he thought it was. We could never take him to a boarding kennel because I think the long period of time at the humane society really messed him up with cages. He hated going to places with cages. We never put him in a cage because of that. He never showed any reason to do that. It’s not like he never got to take trips because we certainly did take him places. He even made a long 8 hour journey up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan once. He loved that trip a lot. Very memorable to me since on a hike there he came out of the woods covered in burs and briars. He was always a fixture at family events. He was family.
Mac was also a creature of habit. You would know when it was 10 o’clock. He was a walking breathing clock. Never failed even up to the last day that at 10 o’clock he was ready to go outside for his end of day potty. Amazing to me.
Why did I write a eulogy for a dog, my dog? It felt like something I had to do. For Mac was more than a dog to me. He’d been my companion and shadow for 12 years. I never had a dog growing up, but always wanted one. The first moment and opportunity to have a dog panned out to be more than I could have ever imagined. Our pets have personalities and feelings just as much as we humans do. They’re there in good times and bad times. They comfort us. They entertain us. They care for us just as much as we care for them. He provided safety in our house for 12 years. I never doubted that the sight of him prevented our homes from being burglarized. In the past 2 years we’ve seen the decline in him. Last March 2012 was the first true warning sign. He had a seizure while I was away on a business trip. That was the first moment of realization that he’s not going to be around with us much longer. He would go on to have occasional seizures after that, but nothing the vets were to overly concerned about. When he started not being able to get up or would fall down while standing was the next signs that the end was arriving. This past Thursday, September 26 upon me arriving home from son’s swim practice we happen to walk in when he was having a seizure. That was when I knew it was time. Typically he’d want to walk around to get his bearings back, but this time he just wanted to lay there. I talked to the vet the next day and then took a visit Saturday. We decided his quality of life is not there anymore. It hurts to think you’re taking your companion in to be killed, but realistically he’s suffering. In respect to him and all that he has given us it’s time to end his suffering. He’s not the same anymore. He barely moves and in his final week I’ve got canned food and hotdogs to feed him. His last supper so to speak. Today, October 4th is his goodbye.
I’m going to miss him so much. I’m going to miss my shadow. It’s going to take time for my healing, but I have a great family that will make it easier. Here’s to the best damn mutt I’ve ever known.
May you find your best buddy Kilmer somewhere out there.
Goodbye old pal.