Remembering a Best Friend
Willie was a great dog. I say “was” because we had to put him to sleep this week: he bit someone for the second time, and dogs only get one bite at that kind of apple.
Willie was a Jack Russell terrier: full of life….maybe too full. They are a rather precocious and assertive breed, and he was the prototypical alpha male dog:
- Had to do things his way: touchy to the point of being spooky, almost like telling us his was the only way.
- He was smart: so smart that he only would do the things that he chose to do, and he had his way of letting us know just what those things were.
- He expected small treats for nearly everything, and if you didn’t comply, he’d wait until forever until you did.
- He was always worried about missing out on something – and every time we’d get ready to go for a walk he had to run back inside to have one more morsel of the food in his dish.
- He always let you know that his job was to clean the dinner plates, and he’d climb into the dishwasher if you forgot to include him in that chore.
- He slept on the pillows rather than on all the doggie beds we bought….to him, those were for, well, dogs.
- And he surely never thought of himself as a dog - in his mind, he was as human as the rest of us, and he was always reminding us of that….in his own unique language.
Sometimes he got jumpy when someone would invade his space. It wasn’t all the time, or with everyone, and we were never able to figure out when he would arbitrarily decide to enforce that inner rule. That was when his bite got worse than his bark. Over the years he bit us, but I guess we were willing to accept that as we would any other regular family fight. At those times he’d be contrite, and because of his unquestioned devotion to us we forgave him, even though deep down we were unable to forget.
The first time he bit one of our nieces, we tried to modify his behavior: medicine, muzzles, stern lectures……none of those worked on Willie (and come to think of it, those same kinds of remedies never seem to work on any of the other alpha-type people we know either). The second time, this past week, we came face to face with the limited choices left open to us: once was maybe okay; but twice was too many. That’s a rule that applies to so many things in life, for dogs and humans alike.
So we took him to a wise and trusted Vet, and after much discussion we realized what had to be done. We cried at the choices left open to us, because to us he was, and would always be, the best friend who loved us unconditionally.
We are stunned at how quickly he left us, and we’re surely going to miss him. As we drove home in silence we couldn’t help but wonder why these same kinds of rules don’t apply to all the other alpha people in life? But be that as it may, life, and the memories he left us, will go on.
So instead of a message this week, here are a few quotes to tell you how we feel about losing a cool dog, a close companion, and a real best friend:
“. . . owning a dog always ends with sadness because dogs just don't live as long as people do.” John Grogan, Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog
“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” Roger A. Caras
“When it comes time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived.” Henry David Thoreau
“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.” Dr. Seuss
Thanks for the memories Willie.