At thirteen years and two weeks, my beloved Boxer, Charlie succumbed to cancer. Eight months later, I lost my Min Pin. Zeus was 17 years old and just too tired and old to go on. It was devastating and heart wrenching as I’m sure many of you know. These dogs were my sounding board, my friends who loved me unconditionally.
Charlie waited for me every day looking out between the blind slats on the window that overlooked the driveway. When I pulled in, he was sitting there staring out at me. Zeus was a lion in a tiny body. He had attitude and stuck to me like glue. There really is no better feeling.
So many of you know what I’m talking about. We love our dogs with all your heart and can’t imagine our life without them. Then one day, that’s the way it is—sometimes when you least expect it. So, as I have before, I turned to writing/journaling. I write about how cute he was when I first brought him home—the runt of the litter and in fact, the last puppy to be sold. He turned out to be a blessing. That dog saw me through a lot of things—change in jobs, messy relationship and then divorce, moving, and moving again. Along the way, he enchanted neighbors as he stuffed his ball under the fence and stared at them until they picked it up and threw it back. Most of my neighbors adored him for that. A few didn’t like the hole that resulted from his continual pushing with his feet to get the ball under the fence to the other side. What’s that old saying? Why did the dog push the ball under the fence? So the neighbors would play with him, of course!
Every day, no matter what, he had joy in his heart and play on the brain in the name of a ball. Charlie loved playing with a ball. However, ten years of catching a tennis ball and then sucking on it did a number on his teeth. When he was ten, he had eight pulled and wore the rest of them down to a quarter of an inch—including his fangs which he had no more. So I switched to a plastic/rubber kind of ball that was about the same size, but didn’t hold the germs like the fuzz on a tennis ball..
Charlie didn’t like water—at all, whether it be a lake, pond, the bath tub or a puddle. He always sidestepped a puddle and whined when his ball went into some body of water at which point, he cried until someone retrieved it for him.
He continued to harass me daily to throw it so he could chase it even up to the day he stopped eating.
I have lots of cute pictures and memories that fill up my sad heart making it smile once again. But I miss the boy who wanted to be near me where ever I was—including the bathroom! The one who was relentless in trying to get me outside to throw his ball, who wouldn’t drop it until we went inside. One of my favorite memories is I had trained him to drop his ball before we went inside. It never failed that he would stand at the door, drop it and then look back longingly and lovingly at his ball. That I wish I had on video.
I do have videos of both Charlie and Zeus’s howling with two other dogs during my years of marriage. We called it our choir. Zeus would always start it, and then the other three would join in(Charlie, a Golden Retriever and a Havapoo). Charlie was definitely the bass and he often added a woo, woo to his repertoire.
Fifty-five pounds of a lap dog, he was a pretty good cuddler and maybe that’s why it hurt so bad the last week of his life when he didn’t want to be near me. I knew it wasn’t because he didn’t want to; he was just in pain and was ready to go. Months later, it still makes me cry.
But, Charlie will join my other Boxers, Babs and Kelsey up in heaven at the Rainbow Bridge where they will chase balls together. I know he’s in good hands and his memory might fade some, but it will always be with me.
Zeus was a rescue who needed a new home at the age of five. He was a character. He loved to be chased and he was pretty fast. I remember the excitement on his face as he eluded me taking quick turns and jumping on and off of furniture.
I had always had large dogs and Zeus was my first attempt at a small dog. I learned a lot-like don’t leave the recycles on the floor where a small dog can find them and get their head stuck in a peanut butter jar. Thank God, nothing happened to him other than enjoying a lot of good licks of peanut butter. He was definitely food focused.
Zeus also preferred to sleep under the blankets on my bed. For many years, he found his way under and his way out, but the last year of his life, he was losing his sight and his hearing and he had trouble. So, he would stand by my head until I lifted the blanket. Then he would go under to my feet and lie down. Sometime in the night I would hear heavy, desperate breathing. He was too hot. So, I lifted the covers and he climbed out. Wherever I sat, knelt, or lay down, Zeus was next to me—most of the time in between my legs.
I now have Ela, a rescue from the Puerto Rico Hurricanes. She is larger than Zeus was, but smaller than Charlie. Long hair and another food lover! When I got her, I tried several commands-sit, down, come. She would just stare at me. It wasn’t until a co-worker jokingly asked if she barked in Spanish that I realized she probably didn’t understand me. I looked up the words in Spanish for those commands and as soon as I said it, she performed the task. So Ela has taught me some Spanish and I have taught her English.
We love our walks everyday just like I have with every other dog that has been in my life. Like Charlie and Zeus, she too loves to cuddle with me and be with me. But really, what dog doesn’t love to cuddle and be with their owner? That’s one of the many reasons I will always have a dog. Their love is always there…even when they are crossing the rainbow bridge.