Posted by: deadmousediaries | October 5, 2010

Remembering a Rotten Dog – a tribute to a friend from Mitchell Kyd

It was five years ago today, October 5, 2010, that we said goodbye and that seems impossible. But I do remember clearly. For starters, his favorite toy was a tire: not a little chew-toy tire from the pet store, no sir. He tossed around a steel-belted radial in the yard like it was a Cheerio. We named him Dozer, as in Bull-Dozer.

We found him as a shelter dog, a full-bred Rottie that had magically appeared at a dog-friendly doorstep in the middle of a blinding winter storm. No tags, no collar, no family in his wake to appear a few hours later in search of this beautiful creature. His rescuers couldn’t keep him in their small duplex so when the ads and phone calls failed to connect him, he found himself once again surrounded only by strangers.

Our family had been feeling incomplete for nearly two years after losing our German Shepherd and my husband’s visits to the shelter had become routine. I made excuses not to join him knowing that each visit broke my heart when I looked into all those entreating little faces.

No, I didn’t want a Rottweiler, I stated calmly the day he called about this latest find behind the play yard fence. Too much dog, too much bad-breed reputation. And we had small children at home. But my husband whisked me away at lunchtime anyway, just to “take a look.” (That’s how they get you, you know.)

It would seem that every shelter dog is “about two years old” according to the adoption agents and this Rottie was both handsome and playful. He was built like Superdog and his rich, black coat fit like an Armani suit over his muscular frame. His deep copper eyes drilled through me like a Zen master and he cocked his head and lifted his ears at my every syllable, looking for clues as to what it would take to win me over. He read me with the precision of a car salesman behind on his quota and his pitch proved to be right on target. At the end of the day, my husband and the dog were waiting in the office parking lot.

I hovered those first few hours at home, wondering how we would convince this monster dog to relinquish his dominance and respect my five-and seven-year-olds. The dog outweighed them, could out-run them and had more teeth. I left the room once for only a minute and came back to discover my baby girl on floor in front of the TV, using the dog as a pillow. He looked me dead in the eye as if to say, “Relax, Mom. This is exactly what I’m meant to do at the moment.”

We didn’t rush in to give our new addition a name, knowing that the right one would emerge over time. That came to pass a few days later when my son announced he was big enough to walk the dog. I knew differently but there are no self-limiting restraints in the mind of a second-grader.

The snow was still compacted on the driveway and his dad handed over the leash, explaining to our son that even though the dog was behaving well, it was because the dog was making that choice. To make the point, Dad prepared him for a demonstration and he walked to the end of the yard and called “Here, Boy!” Our new Rottie shot down the driveway like Secretariat out of the gate. Determined not to let go, our kid went body surfing across the snow while his little sister stood in awe. She pranced around anxiously, clamoring for her turn “to ride.” That day “The Dog” emerged as “Dozer” and it stuck.

By the end of that first month, our big drool machine had nothing left to prove. There had been no accidents, no flash of teeth, and no shredded shoes to replace. We accepted that he had nothing in mind for his new family other than to adore and protect us. It was only visitors who knocked on the door of our empty house who ever reported seeing that very scary Rottie reputation put to work. To them, he was our rotten dog.

Our van windows were always slathered in slobber; he jumped in for any car ride, no matter how short. He never really ate the biscuits offered at the bank drive-thru but always made the tellers feel appreciated when his wagged his docked stub of a tail. If we left him behind at the house five times a day, he was happy to see us five times, as happy at 7:00 after the grocery run as he had been at 6:00 when we got home from the dentist. On the rare occasions we caught him napping as we opened the back door, we could watch him slink off the good sofa with the stealth of James Bond, never even clinking the tags on his collar.

Our yard was his playground and he entertained our neighbors by tackling his tire. One good launch down the driveway sent him bounding after the spinning circle. The next step was to grab it in those considerable teeth and flip it over his neck. He was an athlete in action and would race right back to his playmate to start the game again. The teeth marks in the sidewall were proof enough he was training to be champion. For eight years, he shared his life with us, chased his tire, napped with the house cats and loved us unconditionally.

It was hard to watch time do its frantic dance around our beautiful Dozer but the dog years had been catching up. Climbing onto the sofa had become a struggle for him and a romp in the yard had already become more like a stroll before we knew our time together was over.

A caring vet and her staff gave us some wonderful moments alone before we eased his passing. His body had been shutting down over the course of the days but his heart remained ours until the moment he closed those big copper eyes for the very last time. When the goodbyes had all been said, I let him turn that handsome face toward me and use my lap as a pillow. It was exactly what I was meant to do at the moment.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Mitchell Kyd

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Responses

  1. Oh my, so many pet owners are now sitting with a lump in their throat. Reading your article brought back memories of how I was with two of our cats as they passed…….holding them, stroking their fur……crying like a baby as I said good bye to dear, dear friends. Non-pet people don’t quite get such stores, but there are others, like us, that understand there is no better friend, than our furry companions.
    Another well done story!

  2. Okay, I had it together until that last sentence. Thanks for sharing that universal dog-lover last moment…one more thing we have in common!

  3. Yvonne–this absolutely brought tears to my eyes. I am not a really a pet person, but I was so very touched by this story. I felt like I was right there with you through it all. So very moving.
    —Suzanne

  4. Ok, where to start. I was right there with you ! I know exactly what you were going through, you know my stories about Lassie and Alley cat, Your Dozer i remember that so very well. I know when you think of him that lump in your throat still comes back , and so does that big smile about one of those moments with him. Sitting at the chair with you. His memory will stay in your mind for as long as you live and you will never be able to replace him. May God bless you !! Love you Jo

  5. Dozer was blessed to be part of your family. I have had to put down too many pets over the years, but I always try remember those wonderful memories, those special moments that these wonderful animals brought into our lives. I loved reading about Dozer. Thanks so much for sharing him with us.

  6. On the rare occasions we caught him napping as we opened the back door, we could watch him slink off the good sofa with the stealth of James Bond, never even clinking the tags on his collar.

    excellent


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