Monday, July 18, 2011

Saying Goodbye to a Friend

This is Laddie. He is a sheltie and one of our family dogs.

My Wife and I got Laddie from the Michigan Sheltie Rescue. At the time we were looking to adopt there were three shelties available. Laddie won us over almost single handedly. Not only was he well trained, but what really got us was his overwhelming desire to play. He was three years old at the time. We had been told that he was given to the rescue shelter because his previous family was unable to keep him. Laddie was the name he came with and it seemed to fit him, so we left it.

After buying our first home, the first night that we spent there was also the same night that we adopted Laddie and brought him home. That was July 3rd, 2001. I remember it clearly because Laddie spent the whole night hiding under the bed due to all the fireworks going off in our neighborhood. Shelties do not like loud noises like fireworks and thunder.

It turned out that Laddie was very well trained as we came to find out years later. One morning when trying to get him to do a trick for a piece of breakfast sausage, Laddie out of the blue just rolled over on his own like he had been doing that trick forever. My wife and I were shocked at this because we had no idea. So we gave Laddie the command to roll over and he did. I think he regretted giving up the fact he knew this trick, because every roll over request since has been followed with this annoyed 'chuff' sound that seemed like he was upset to have to do this demeaning trick to get the treat.

As if that was not enough, a few months later when trying to see if he knew how to jump through a hula hoop and sure enough he did. This trick was also accompanied with an annoyed 'chuff' with each request. We never found any other tricks that he knew, or that he would admit he knew. Honestly, I think he was hiding some.

Laddie had one of the largest and strongest personalities of any dog I have known, and a bit of an attitude as you can see. However, the largest thing about Laddie's personality was his desire for play, especially playing fetch. This dog loved more than anything to chase a ball and would do it for as long as you were willing to throw it. If multiple people were around, Laddie would always make sure that everyone got a turn to throw the ball and participate in the fun. He was oddly meticulous in this. Our guests would often end up with a ball dropped in their lap and a Laddie looking at them with this look that said 'You know you want to throw that for me!' If that did not work, he would be more than willing to show you how he could chase his tail and catch it, over and over and over again. Chasing the ceiling fan was his favorite solo sport.

One thing about Laddie was that he did not care for children. We can only assume that the kids in his previous family mistreated him. We had Laddie for four years before we had kids of our own. Laddie would always try to stay as far from them as he could, at least until they were old enough to throw a ball for him. I worked with my kids to help them understand Laddie and his dislike of kids. They seemed to understand and there was a mutual respect that developed between them and Laddie.

Anyway, this last Friday night, I was home watching the kids and my wife was out at a party with her friends. I had put the kids to bed and was in the basement painting my Ogres when I noticed Laddie quietly standing by the door like he wanted to go out. Odd I thought, he usually lets me know he wants to go out. So I took him upstairs and let him out. He walked out into the back yard about ten feet from the door and just lay down.

I went out to see if he was ok and he was just lying there quietly. He was alert, but his breathing was a bit labored. I could not see anything visibly wrong with him. I tried to get him to stand up or move, but he wouldn't. So I carried him inside and laid him on the floor of the living room.

I had thought about rushing him to an emergency vet, but given his age and health issues, it did not seem like it would help. He was thirteen years old and he had Bladder Stones, Hip Dysplasia and arthritis in his hips, but he never let any of this slow him down, right up until this day. I guess part of me knew that he was dying given his behavior. I though it best to keep him at home with his family and let nature run its course.

I stayed with Laddie until my wife got home about twenty minutes later. By then Laddie's breathing had become more labored and he was not very alert. About ten minutes later, he took his last breath and he was gone.

Laddie was my friend and my companion. He was always there when I came home from work, happy to see me no matter how bad my day was. He brought a lot of joy into my life. Since his passing, there is this hole in my life and the house feels oddly empty. I miss how he would always follow me around the house wanting to be where ever I was. This is not the first dog I have lost, but somehow it seems like the biggest loss of any of them. My wife and kids were hit pretty hard by this too.

Goodbye Laddie, my friend. I miss you.


Jason said...

What a wonderful, moving tribute to your friend and family-member.

Godspeed, Laddie. I am sure there are tennis balls in Heaven.

Anonymous said...

My condolences mate - I can't imagine how you must feel. He looked a beautiful little mate.

slipwing said...

@Jason: Thanks Jason. I am sure Laddie has all the balls he can chase now.

@RoguePom: Thanks for the condolences. He was a great mate.

Karitas said...

I've no words.

It's a very moving peice of writing, broke my heart.

in a good way.

Colonel Shofer said...

Rainbow Bridge my friend.


slipwing said...

@Karitas: Thanks, I am glad you likes it. It was very hard for me to write.

@Colonel Shofer: Thanks for letting me know about the Rainbow Bridge Website. I will check it out.

Loquacious said...

I'm so sorry. I can't imagine.

My buddy Cash is a Collie/Sheltie mix and shares some of the same traits-especially the annoyed "Chuffing" sound he makes when he "has" to do something. I really enjoy him.

slipwing said...

@Loquacious: I do not recall any other dogs making this 'chuffing' sound, but Laddie did always made it when he did not want to do something.

I hope that you and Cash have many years more together.

slipwing said...

My wife liked this tribute so she shared it on her Facebook page. Here is a comment from one of our closest family friends that really accents Laddie's willingness to share the play. Austin is their oldest son who is the same age as my oldest son.

"Karen: Beautiful tribute to Laddie. True about wanting to share playing ball - Laddie taught Austin to play ball with him even though he was afraid of dogs - he'd insist Austin had a turn & never quit giving him the ball until he tossed it proper : )"

I had not heard this story before, but it shows that even though Laddie did not like children, play was much more important.

Pedro Kantor said...

I too have an older dog and you have my sympathies!!!

slipwing said...

Thank you Pedro.