I wrote this post in April of 2013 when Splatter was 11 years old. He died on June 21st, the first day of summer, 2017, at 15yrs. 3 mos of age. He gave me so much during those 15 years. I will still love him forever.
The Little Guy, as I call him, came into my life 11 years ago. I found him on the Humane Society of Central Oregon’s website and, since I was looking for a medium sized dog, I stopped in there on my way to the dump. He was only 3 months old and they said they thought he was an English Setter/Border Collie cross and would weigh about 50 lbs. I fell in love with him immediately and adopted him and brought him home. He was just a precious little bundle of black and white fur with spots on his pink belly. My older dogs, 3 miniature schnauzers, were not too delighted with this new addition to our family. But they all managed to co-exist as long as the Little Guy acknowledged who was boss. He learned to have a healthy respect for the little terriers and also for the two barn kitties that lived on the property.
As a “pupperoo”, he was a constant delight and, when he was about 5 months old, these big old wide paws suddenly developed out of nowhere! I used to tell people that they must have freeze-dried his feet at the Humane Society and it wasn’t till it rained (which it didn’t do too often in the high desert) that their true size could be seen. Well, he grew and he grew and it soon became obvious that he was going to cross the 50lb mark by a wide margin. I had put in a medium-sized dog door at my house, and it wasn’t long before his head alone took up the entire door — but, somehow, he could still squeeze his long legs and body through it. My best friend, Marge, a portrait artist, came to visit and nicknamed him “The Amazing One”. Since then she has done numerous wonderful paintings of him and, I believe, is working on another one now.
So, now he’s 11 and has arthritis in both his hips and in his right knee where he had an ACL repair. He has trouble getting up and down and stairs are a real problem. He still goes for his walk every morning and likes to run (though, sometimes he hops) on the beach and delights in eating kelp and disgusting dead things. Sometimes, in the summer, he will swim out and chase a duck or a cormorant, scaring his mother when he ventures out too far.
I just bought him a new memory foam bed that was delivered last night. He usually is suspicious of new beds – sniffing them and refusing to lie down in them for several days. But this one was different. As soon as I unpacked it and put it in place he lay right down. And he stayed in it all night. I hope it eased the ache in his bones and helped him to get a better night’s sleep.
Dogs lives are too short and I know my Little Guy won’t be with me forever. Some day, I hope in the far distant future, I will probably have to make the decision that will end his life. I’ve done it before with other beloved companions and will probably do it many more times before I die. It never gets any easier, though. My dogs are my life – they are my kids – and I love them as fiercely as most of you live your human children. He is my baby – my sweet Splatter – and I will love him forever.