If Ike wants a friend in Washington, he should get a dog.
- Harry Truman, on Eisenhauer's 1953 Inauguration
It was 2012. I was done with the Atlanta-Austin shuttle. What I found was that my family liked me being away from home all the time, as long as the paycheck cleared. My soon-to-be-ex was increasingly angry and dismissive; my two surly teenage sons were, well, increasingly surly.
And so I channeled my inner Ike and got a dog. I wanted something that I knew would love me, without asking for anything in return (except for love and kindness, that is). This was Wolfgang's introduction to this blog.
I didn't know just what an extraordinary friend I had brought into the house. I did a better job socializing and training him than I had on my old German Shepherd, Jack. 30 years of me growing up helped a lot there. But Wolfgang was something special. He loved going to the dog park (morning and evening) which I never did with Jack, and so he became comfortable and social around all the other dogs. I took Wolfgang on walks in the woods, like I had with Jack. But as Wolfgang grew, so did his personality. He had a gusto for life when it was him and me spending time together. I was his Dad, but he was my friend and companion.
My marriage augured into the ground, and I met The Queen Of The World. Wolfgang discovered what I was learning, that she was extraordinarily caring. She made sure his food and water dishes were clean and full. She gave him a bed (a folded up blanket, but it was his place) which he had never had before. She gave him his first stuffed toy, which we called his "baby". He'd never had one before. I was his Dad, and did things with him. She quickly became his Mom, and did things for him. Wolfgang loved her immediately.
He loved her even when she took his baby and put it in the washing machine. He lost his mind - it was HIS baby! He relaxed when she took it out of the washer, and then lost his mind all over again when she put it in the dryer. But The Queen Of The World made sure he had his own bed to sleep on, and his baby to sleep with him.
Pretty soon she replaced the blanket with an actual bed for him.
She was a great Mom for him. She got him his first Frisbee. I threw tennis balls for him to chase, and she noticed that he would catch them when I lobbed them to him. So she got soft Frisbees and he took to that like a duck takes to water. He would get huge hang time jumping for them - it was like a shark hitting a tuna. The Frisbee in the photo below is at least seven feet off the ground. We met most of the folks in the neighborhood because everyone noticed the big, good looking dog carrying the Frisbee. The neighborhood kids in particular all wanted to throw it for him. Wolfgang quickly learned that kids just wanted to play with him. He loved kids, and they loved him. The neighborhood Moms all relaxed when they watched everyone having fun with the big Frisbee dog.
Unlike Jack, he also loved being around other dogs. He would play at the dog park, and was always good about sharing his Frisbee. I've never seen a dog get along with other dogs as well as he did.
The Queen got him a raincoat, because I would take him out, rain or shine. She called him the "Morton Salt dog".
You see, we'd go look for deer lurking around Castle Borepatch and sometimes it rained. Sometimes it didn't. Whichever, we had our time together every day.
The Queen Of The World and he had time together every day, too. Christmas was always special, because she filled his stocking to overflowing. He always got excited when she hung his stocking with ours. He knew she was taking care of him, in a way he hadn't ever had before.
The move to Florida was good for him, as it was to us. His back and hips were going bad, and he didn't have cold and snow to deal with, or stairs to navigate. And while there weren't many deer, there were a lot of cows. He loved saying hello to the cows.
But time and tide wait for no man, or dog. His back became nothing but arthritis, and the sockets of his hips were jagged bone. It got harder and harder for him to walk. If you look closely in the next picture, you can see that he couldn't quite get his back end all the way up, and his back legs are tangled up. He'd fall and have trouble getting up. That was two months ago, and it continued getting worse.
One night he fell and had to pull himself with his front legs to where he could stand up. You could see the pain in his eyes, and while he never used to whine that became more common. And so we spoiled him, and made the call to the vet. The first picture of him is at the top of the post; this is the last photo I took of him.
The Queen Of The World made him chicken and rice, and he ate a huge lunch yesterday, and loved every bit of it. We gave him Frosty Paws which we'd stopped because it upset his digestive system. But all rules were suspended yesterday. And then we went to the vet.
Yesterday was a bad day
. He gave us what I had hoped for when I got him - unconditional, devoted love. The Queen Of The World and I returned that to him - we used to say that he was our child. We would give him morning family hugs and tell him "I love you". Soon he was saying it back to us: Ooo OOOOO ooo
. He would match the word length and tone perfectly.
But of course, he wasn't our child, he was our dog. Rather than three score and ten, we had him for a decade and one. We are now constantly reminded of him by his absence, where he should be waiting for us but is not. Yesterday morning was the hardest; rather than him eager to see me get out of bed, it was silence. I'm sort of wrecked, losing someone like that. I am sure glad that I have The Queen Of The World with me.
Wolfgang was hands down the best dog we've ever had. He was so friendly with both people and dogs, so smart and easy to train, so well behaved, and so damned handsome
that everyone in the neighborhood is sad, too. He truly earned the words from Epitaph to a Dog
Near this spot rests one who had
Beauty without Vanity;
Strength without Insolence:
Courage without Ferocity;
and all Man's Virtues with none of his vices.
This has been a long post, but it's his due. I sure would rather not have the occasion to write it. The Queen and I will never see his like again.
If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.
- Will Rogers
Ave atque vale, Wolfgang. I sure miss you.