Must Love Dogs

When I lived in Illinois, a friend of mine who lived in Goodfield had a Schnauzer. A miniature one. Harry was brought into his home to help his family cope with the loss of their previous dog. This would have worked if they weren’t polar opposites.

Harry, who was a great dog, was in a lot of pain from sinus infections gone horribly wrong. So he decided to sleep away most days. This is fine, except Zach’s family wanted an obnoxious dog who would help them make noise in their home. A dog that would ruffle through the trash and grab any carbonated container to grab the sugar from.

Harry liked sleep.

So at the end of his stay there, the offer was made if I would take him in. Sure. I had a Schnauzer experience while learning how to drive over the road. They were good dogs if you let them run sometime in the day. Why the hell not?

Harry and I got to know each other well. After a few months, he was scheduled to get his teeth removed, as they were getting bad to where he didn’t want to have his muzzle played with. That was fine. He would have chewing teeth for his food. Plus, I had a butcher job at the moment. So he would benefit just fine.

As friends and family warmed up to him, everyone saw the package deal that we were. If a woman didn’t like dogs, or was a ‘cat-woman,’ I would put her on the Do Not Call list. Easy enough. Harry made dating life easy. He had a good sense of judgement, and became my best friend very quickly.

As everything in life, things change.

I knew I would be coming to Texas, and my dog was an older dog. My father, who is amazing with animals, period, was asked by myself to care for him while I settled down here.

My parents jumped at the chance, literally. Here was a mature dog in his sunset years who was already trained on how to walk, when to let someone know when he needed out in the yard, and he wouldn’t run off; that would mean he wouldn’t have a nice cushion by the fireplace.

I saw him off on Mother’s Day. That was a hard one for me. Harry knew something was up when he departed for their home. A few days later I spent my last night in Illinois with him laying by my side on the recliner. Until he was too warm. He had a low tolerance for letting me be uncomfortable.

And I left him in Illinois while I came to Texas. Things in his life continued to be good, even with the onset of hip dysplasia. I think that’s how you spell it. Mom and Dad took him to the vet and groomers on a regular basis, eventually removing all of his teeth because his sinus infection or whatever it was, it ruined his ability to enjoy being petted.

After he had only two teeth left, he became their most favorite dog in their forty years together. Sure, he was slow. Sure, he needed help sometimes. But he was able to communicate and train them to tend to his needs.

Like all good dog stories, this one has a tearful ending. On Valentine’s Day, my father asked me if I was sitting down. I assured him I was in bed, just getting off work.

And Dad tells me Harry passed away in the night. Congestive heart failure had caught up with him. He had a heart murmur, actually two of them I think. And for thirteen years, he lived happily as best he could. I had a chance to see him on their visit to Corpus in the week of Thanksgiving. I knew when I put him in their Nissan, I probably had just said a final farewell to him.

He was always by my side when we were around each other. Maybe he loved me that much. Maybe he just knew that he helped me through a tough time in life where I didn’t have a lot going on except having the best friends I’ve had in my 38 years. He gave me something to come home to.

When Dad is telling me this, all I could think of is angels dropping squirrels and other small game near him to watch him go. He hated small rodents. With a passion. I could only see his afterlife beginning as he had new people to entertain him until the day I join him. Between running around like a salt-and-pepper blur and eating pizza crust samples, that is.

Chase them good, Harry. Chase ’em.