Saturday, November 01, 2008

Saying Goodbye.



Today I loaded Strider into the car.

We drove east along a little state highway. Over the lake, across the creek, past the McCain/Palin billboard, up and down the hills where the oaks are just turning color. The sky is cloudless and blue today, and Strider had his nose out the window when he wasn't resting his head on my arm.

When we got to the place where I had gone to pick him up six months ago, he got very excited. He greeted his foster mom by rearing up and putting his front paws on her shoulders, then bending down to lick her face. She was thrilled at how beautifully his coat had come in, and how all the mange he'd had was gone. I was glad to see that he still remembered the person who'd held him on her lap (all 80 pounds of him, at the time!) and sung to him when he was so sick with pneumonia that he couldn't sleep.

Then his foster mom introduced him to her female Anatolian shepherd, popped them both into the back seat of her truck, and I hugged him goodbye through the window. The last thing I saw was his butt, tail wagging, as he got comfortable with the other dog in the truck.

Strider did well here for the first four months. Then, as he got out of puppyhood, he started developing a personality that just didn't jive with Max's. They were fighting every day, and Max (being slightly smaller and older) was getting the worst of it. I was having to patch him up nearly every night. Max was scared and miserable, Strider was turning into an aggressive bully, and I was at my wits' end.

So Strider-Man is now going to be on a farm in the far, far northeast corner of Texas, up beyond Dallas, near the Red River. It's border country, hilly and green with creeks on the property he can swim in and coyotes he can chase. That'll be his job: he'll be running the fenceline on fifteen acres and protecting everything on the property. He'll be good at it, and it'll be good for him to have both a job and almost-unlimited space to run. I expect him to be rippling with muscle, tougher than leather, and completely his own self by the middle of next year.

I am going to miss him a lot. He's a good boy. Very nearly the best boy ever, if Max hadn't already had that title.

Max, meanwhile, is basking in the sun, somehow aware that nobody's going to come out of the corner of the yard, knock him down, and worry his head. He's looking forward to renewing his acquaintance with the pug next door and going for long sunset walks.

Maybe someday I'll try another buddy for Max. For now, though, he has to get his mojo back and remember what it's like to be Top Pup.

Stridey-boy, Big Stupid Goofball, Snorgle-Pup, Scrimble-Nimble, Nom-Hound, I'll miss you.

15 comments:

Karin, RN said...

Awww. Handsome dog too.

Anonymous said...

Jo-
I just went through this struggle a couple of months ago with my English Springer spaniel. She had become increasingly aggressive toward our older dog (another Springer) and was making his and our family's lives miserable. The final straw was when she bit my husband while he was trying to break up the 408,345th fight. We contacted the local Springer rescue organization and told them the truth about what was going on. They found a wonderful home for our girl and now, the best dog in the world (we've had him since he was 10 weeks old and he's 14 years old now) can live out his days in peace. I truly can share your pain and relief....you did the right thing for everyone involved. Hugs to you.
Denise

Bardiac said...

Awww, this must have been a tough decision for you, but it sounds like a good one.

Have a good cuddle with Max!

Pam said...

I'm sorry you had to say goodbye to your friend. I hope Max bounces back quickly.

RehabNurse said...

Aww. I hope Max does well as an only dog. Sometimes it's better that way if the other dog is a bully.

Our boy did. We didn't get rid of the other boy, he took his chances and ran. Wild Dog came into his own once the Pirate Dog ran away.

RehabNurse said...

Aww. I hope Max does well as an only dog. Sometimes it's better that way if the other dog is a bully.

Our boy did. We didn't get rid of the other boy, he took his chances and ran. Wild Dog came into his own once the Pirate Dog ran away.

kayla said...

such a great blog i wish you all the best some how i found you when i was looking for stuff on our sons birth defect esophageal atresia, i wish you all the best.

Penny said...

(((((Jo)))))

You were there for Strider when he needed the kind of care that only a bonafide dog-lover-who-knows-medicine could give for months on end, 24/7.

I love your massive heart.

kayla said...

very nice blog site some how i found you looking for things on our sons birth defect esophageal atresia, i wish you all the best.

Strong One said...

That had to be one of the most courageous decisions anyone would have to make.
Kudos to you.

GingerJar said...

I know you will miss him, but sometimes it is for the best. I used to live in Clarksville, just about as Northeast as you can get without running into Texarkana. My grandparents lived on the Oklahoma side, close to the Red River...there just isn't anything like being out in the country. He'll chase rabbits and butterflies, and be a happy dog.

Yr sis said...

Everybody said how beautiful he was when you dropped him off. He was a scarecrow when you picked him up. He's left a hole in your life but you filled his.

I'm so sorry.

Mel said...

Awww, sorry that it didn't work out Jo. I think you did the right thing. I volunteer at the SPCA and if someone wants a new dog and already has a dog(s) we have them introduce the animals to each other at our site.

Even in that type of situation, you may not have foreseen this. Strider was still young, as you said. Every animal is different. A different dog may make a great companion for Max. Hard to tell.

*hug* Must have been a tough decision to make. I'm glad you found Strider a good home though.

gorochan said...

Sad. Best for dog, though. We had a heeler for about a year that was a found dog, way too energetic and crazy for us. Found a place with cows for him, but miss him still.

woolywoman said...

Oh, hell. The right thing to do, but still hard. Give Max a tummy rub.