Saturday, August 24, 2013

Old friend

2012, in his final months.

2003, about two months old.

2005, two years old with me (I was pregnant with the LB).

2007, with 16-month-old LB.

2008, playing.

2009, with GB (6 months) and LB (3.5 years).

A year ago today, we lost our faithful friend, Angus. He was going on ten years old and had developed tumors in his lungs. He was very sick. He would no longer eat or drink and had great difficulty breathing. Surgeries and medications were offered, but we declined. We wanted him to let us know when it was time, and he did. When the time came, we all went to the veterinarian's office with him and said goodbye.

He was our first "baby." We got him a year after we were married, and we took him everywhere with us. He loved to camp, hike and play in water. He was not always well-behaved. Actually, he was a pain in the neck. He was active and athletic and loved to run and run - the Forrest Gump of dogs. Sometimes he ran away, getting free of the house or yard, and tearing off down the street. The Bear or I would march around holding his leash, calling for him while he played hide-and-seek; he would see us, wait expectantly, then bolt away. He would do this over and over, every time we got close. Finally, he'd give up and walk to us. Reluctantly, he'd allow himself to be leashed and dragged home. He loved it here but sometimes he got other ideas about how he should be living.

I named him myself. He was part of a litter of 13, born to a shepherd-collie mix mother and a black Labrador father. He was a rescue; we got him from the owners of his mother, who were planning to send all the puppies to the pound. His father was enormous, about 90 pounds, and our puppy was the only all-black one in the litter. I presumed he'd be huge like his father, and given his blackness, I thought Angus was a good name for him. Big and black, like a bull. But he never got very big, and his fuzzy puppy hair remained, very unlike his father's sleek, glossy coat. As an adult, Angus weighed barely 40 pounds, and stood about 32 inches on all fours. We were actually very glad he stayed so small; we realized that his activeness would have been a lot more annoying, and probably destructive, if he'd been much bigger.

Angus was very good with the children. When we brought the LB home from the hospital, he was a little concerned, partly because we'd left him an unexpectedly long time, having neighbors come to feed and walk him. Sometimes the Bear went home too. I'd needed to be there for nearly a week, which we hadn't known before we went. By the time we came home, he was really missing us. And we had a bizarre new creature in tow, which was confusing. But Angus did okay; he smelled the baby before he saw him, standing next to the bassinet which was just a little too tall for him to look into. We put the baby on the floor and he sniffed him, butted him gently with his nose and then stood over him, watching intently. Later, he behaved similarly with the newborn GB. As the kids grew, he was very patient with them, allowing them to climb and crawl on him. Angus was always gentle and sweet with them both.

We miss him a lot. But I don't think we want a new dog, at least not now. There's a lot of freedom in not having a pet. Money-savings, too. I loved having him around the house; in his later years, he enjoyed staying near me as I worked around the house. He loved my crochet hobby; as blankets grew, he'd nestle underneath them at my feet. But a dog is a big commitment and we're getting busier all the time. We're beginning to think about possibly having a small pet, probably a guinea pig, because it would provide valuable lessons in responsibility for the children. We're also considering adopting a pair of chickens and have been researching that pretty heavily. We all love animals and enjoy having them around, but we want to be able to give animals everything they need.

I think fondly of my old friend. He wasn't perfect and neither were we; he could have used some formal training. But he was mostly a very good boy. We will always remember him as a part of our family.

29 comments:

  1. This is so, so sweet. I had tears in my eyes reading it. Such a beautiful love story between a "clueless" puppy and the kind, compassionate people who rescued and made a lifelong commitment to him. But I think your beautiful children may have benefitted the most from this experience. They have enjoyed a fun loving pet and witnessed both the rewards and difficulties of pet ownership. We've been there too. I think it's all worth it, though!

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  2. This post has left me all choked up, Jennifer. Dogs have a way of working their way into our hearts and becoming a part of our families. There may come a time down the road when you are ready to get another dog. A small pet seems like a good idea for right now. Have fun choosing what kind to get!

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  3. What a nice tribute to your well loved dog. We had a chocolate lab when our kids were young and it was hard when we lost him. They really become part of the family.

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  4. Oh that so reminded me of our Rosie. She was a right pickle too, but the most loving, patient, gentle dog I'd ever known.I still miss her dreadfully nearly 8 years on :)

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  5. Such a sweet post, Jennifer. We never stop missing those sweet special friends, do we?

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  6. A lovely post you had me in tears.
    Clare x

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  7. Hi Jennifer,What a lovely post!!!I balled my eyes out!!!They really do become part of the family and it is extremely hard to lose a pet like that!!!They will never be forgotten and this post of yours is testament to that!!!Enjoy your weekend!!!
    Love
    AMarie

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  8. A nice tribute to a beloved dog. I miss my Lucy cat and when I am scrolling through my photos and see one of her I get a jolt of sadness. Enjoy your weekend. Hugs, Teresa

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  9. Aww, what a sad post, Jennifer, he looks adorable and I certainly know the bond you can have with an animal. He sounds like he was a faithful and loving pet, I don't blame you for not rushing into getting any more as it's so painful when you have to say goodbye. We have been through similar several times now. We have two cats and two rabbits. I would love to have chickens, but we won't be getting any more pets I don't think, we have enough! I think a guinea pig or a hamster would be a great choice if you decided on that, they are easy to look after and also easy for somebody else to look after if you are going away etc. That is the hardest thing for us, finding somebody to care for all of our pets so we can go on holiday. :)

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  10. Beautiful post today, your Angus sounds like he was a wonderful dog. They are never far from our hearts are they? I think your kids would love a little pet. Now don't freak out but when my youngest was little he had two rats. They were fantastic pets, very smart and very clean. They don't bite and know their names. They were cute, well minus the tail anyway. And they lived for 2 and 2 1/2 years, long enough to love but not get sick of so Mom has to do all the cleaning up.
    Good luck with your choice.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  11. Your dog was really beautiful, I am glad you have all the nice memories about him. I am sure he knew you loved him.

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  12. A sweet post and tribute to your canine friend. They become such a part of our lives, don't they?

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  13. Your post has really jolted my heart Jennifer, for having said goodbye to a few beautiful dogs in my lifetime I understand and commiserate completely! I still grieve over my little Bronte, a Lakeland Terrier with whom I had a very strong bond, but who, very sadly, had to leave us over four years ago under very sad circumstances!
    You have written this post so beautifully - a wonderful furry friend gone to Rainbow Heaven! Thank you for sharing!
    Joy x

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  14. A beautiful post, he was lucky to have such a lovely family. Our baby is now 12.5 yrs old and we are spoiling him everyday! He is still really well and we thank god every day we have with him now! It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all!

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  15. He was such a pretty boy. It is so hard to have them go . We went through that with one of our older dogs a few years back , still miss him and we have three dogs.

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  16. He looks just like our old dog, Jamie, who was also a cross-breed and similarly badly-behaved at times!Used to drive me nuts but the boys loved him so. We didn't have another dog afterwards but got by with the usual menagerie of rabbits,guinea pigs,gerbils,goldfish, though I drew the line when they mentioned wanting any kind of reptiles in the house! I loved that you called him 'Angus'.

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  17. ps Lovely baby pics too - aren't they just so squishy at those ages?!

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  18. What a sweet and lovely post, I just love the way you tell the stories from your life. That first picture of Angus is beautiful, he had very intelligent eyes, I can see why he was a much loved member of the family <3

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  19. It's true that dogs truly become part of the family. It's like having another child around. We got our dog Molly three years ago and I wasn't at all sure at the time but the hubby and kids were really keen. Now I can honestly say that it was the best decision that I ever made. She's adored by all and loves the kids. She's very protective of them and cries when they are out of her sight.
    Rosie xx

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  20. How lucky you all were to have her in your life, as my little Rosie is sitting next to me, she is not perfect but we love her all the more for it.

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  21. Oh Jennifer this has had me crying. Jessie Dog has been quite poorly recently and as she's nearly fifteen we thought that we were losing her. Thankfully she seems to have turned a corner - for now - but we realise that as she gets old she is getting frailer and although the mind is still willing the body can't always keep up. She has been a much loved part of our family - much like Angus - and given us lots of happy memories. Angus looks like he was such a character and was lucky to have been with a family who loved him so much x Jane

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  22. Aw, so touching. I'm going to go give my pug a very long hug. You all had such a wonderful addition to your family Jennifer. ~hugs~

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  23. So glad you had so many happy family times with Angus. Sounds like you had lots of fun together. I hope that you have just as much fun with any new pets that may come your way.

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  24. I know exactly where your coming from. We lost our lovely girl Gracie last November she was 14 and a real old lady she was much more than a dog to us. What a lovely touching post. Angus sounded like a lovely fella x

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  25. Such a beautiful post ♥ got me a bit teary eyed! Pets become such a huge part of the family. At least you have so many lovely memories of him & photos. I always find photos to be very important for this vary reason. Love & hugs to you & your family x

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  26. Hi Jennifer,

    I can understand your sadness with having to say goodbye to dear Angus.
    It can be such a heartbreaking and difficult time as I have been there with our loved pets. I think you just need to remember the happy memories you shared with them.

    Hugs
    Carolyn

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  27. What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful dog. I personally know that I would really struggle to live without animals around me and I feel for your loss. Long may Angus's memory live on. Sending you a big hug xoxo

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  28. This post made me teary, as our eleven year old dog is not doing well. It looks like Angus was very well loved, and I know you have lots of happy memories of good times together. Our dog is a huge part of our family, and I am cherishing these days we have left with him.

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