Friday, July 4, 2014

FTT Off-Topic: The Worst Day

Not sports, just doing some therapy here. Move along or not.

I've had dogs most of my life, and I just turned 45 last month. They were always around when I was a kid, and it wasn't until I was a teenager that they became memorable and permanent, or at least as permanent as dogs go.

Brandy, I got when I was in middle school, in a terrible year of transition, and I chose him over another puppy in an either/or trial on Christmas Eve. It was my Christmas present, and I chose the right dog. He lived until a very ripe old age with my mother, and is, to date, her last dog. I don't think she's gotten over his passing, or at the very least, can't imagine another animal around that isn't him. He was that good of a dog, and we're that kind of people. They are family members to us.

Dylan was my college to mid-'30s dog. A purebred Keeshond bought before the Internet would tell you that the breed was all wrong for a transitory college student and 20s musician, he was beloved but problematic, mostly because the breed wants to look after children, and I didn't provide him that experience until well into his later years. He's the first dog I had to put down.

Bogart was a stray beagle we found on a cold Thanksgiving night in a parking lot. I've always been partial to beagles, and she was a sweetheart. Dumb as a box of rocks, followed her nose anywhere, but gentle and didn't bay. She stayed with us for the better part of a decade until she just somehow wandered off from a familiarity brings lax security experience, and we searched for her for a week and put up posters to no avail. We had her micro-chipped, but that didn't matter either. I'm of the mind that she found some other family that fed her, because that was kind of her personality. She was adorable, but she was anybody's dog.

Chihiro (Japanese for white) was a misfire. A small and yappy cute dog for the kids, she didn't really bond with anyone and wound up going to a relative who wanted her. The plain and simple of it is that not every dog is right for you, and in those instances, you have to do what's right for the animal. Living with us was not that.

And then there was Milo, a Norwegian elkhound and Labrador mix that was damn near everyone's idea of the perfect dog. It took a long time for me to come around to dog ownership again; I've taken the losses hard. Milo was, well, magic. Training him happened so quickly we couldn't believe the luck. He was the best car dog ever. He could be gentle with the kids, or rough house, or mellow, all whenever it was most appropriate. He loved to play ball, but not so much that he was obnoxious about it. He'd talk like a Wookie, with an incredible assortment of verbal variety. He'd dance around on two legs with ease. He could catch frisbees and balls really well, and the amount of personal destruction and bad behavior was infinitesimal. If he ever did get on your nerves, he'd just look at you with his impossible to resist eyes and eternally expressive crooked ears, and you'd just forgive him instantly. He'd be with the youngest for stories, sleep with the eldest in the early evening, and then saunter on down to my room for the rest of the night. There wasn't ever a day with him that he didn't make better. I loved him more than any dog I've ever known.

He was two.

And now -- as in 12 hours ago -- he's gone, the victim of a horrible accident, and everyone in the house is five seconds from weeping. The kids do it openly, while my wife and I try to hide it, because, well, it just reactivates the kids. The afternoon spent dealing with this situation was agony. The emotions that I have from him not being here are just beyond raw. I don't know when, or if, I'm going to be really happy again.

Not having another dog isn't a real option; that's how good Milo was. So we went out tonight, through three different places, and found Minion, a border collie that's helping, in that he gives people reasons to not sob uncontrollably. I have no idea if we did the right thing in getting another dog right away or not, but having something -- anything -- to keep us from negativity is just that important right now. And we thought through the breeds, took all of the experience that we used just so short of a time ago, and will soldier on, because that's what parents have to do.

So, um, not sure when I'll be posting again.

And so it goes.

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