This is sort of a tribute to my boy, Gary. He passed away on Tuesday.
Many would consider Gary to be a “nuisance dog”—the absolute worst nuisance. It is for this reason that I became a foster failure. I could not be sure that another family would not become fed up with his quirks and neuroses.
For one, he was a runner. If the opportunity presented itself, Gary would take off, running to nowhere in particular. And, he was fast. Chasing him by foot was not an option. I became panic-stricken every single time he ran away and it drove me nuts. We finally put up sturdy baby gates to resolve that issue.
Gary was neurotic. There was nothing that professional behaviorists advised that worked at stopping, or at least reducing the severity of his neurotic behavior. It was just who he was. And, Gary didn’t just bark a lot; he barked incessantly and loudly, especially when he could see that we were fixing to go out. His barking even led to a neighbor complaint. That’s never good.
He had the most horrific breath, even after a teeth cleaning. And, because of Gary’s neuroses, he often panted. His breath would waft throughout my home. I love puppy breath, but Gary’s breath was like Ninjavitis.
He was quirky to a fault; so much so that we started calling him “Captain Quirk.” Gary had the same routine during meal time. He would get his stuffed animal, place it in his doggie bed, and drag it across the room, taking all of the area rugs with it. We assume it was his way of bringing home dinner.
Gary was also a constant tapper—a “sideways,” gentle tapper. He tapped the cans of dog food on the lower shelf when he wanted to eat. He’d gently tap my arm or the mattress beside my pillow upon which I lay my head when he wanted me to scratch his ears to help him go to sleep. He’d tap when he wanted a stuffed animal I placed in an area where he couldn’t reach it. He tapped and he tapped and he tapped.
When he wanted tidbits of turkey that I roasted for him and his siblings, he would run in the kitchen every single time he saw me heading that way. Once there, he’d stare at me, unrelentingly and intensely, until our eyes locked, at which time he would look over to the refrigerator and back at me again. That was his way of saying, “Gimme turkey.” Annoying? Of course, but I obliged him every single time. Yeah, he had me trained.
Gary constantly cleaned his sisters’ faces. going from one to the other. They tolerated it because he was the boss-man.
But, Gary wasn’t that bad. On the contrary, Gary understood me. He knew me well. He was a loving dog who never turned down an opportunity to climb onto my lap with his face towards mine, to be loved on. He enjoyed my gentle strokes and hugs, and often fell fast asleep right on my lap and in my arms. When I was upset, he knew it. He’d sit in front of me, and with those intelligent and beautiful liquid brown eyes, he’d watch me with great concern.
He loved to play fetch. In his younger years, he could catch the toy I threw. If I threw it far, he was fast at retrieving it. He could go on forever and it was usually I who was the first to tire out. I knew age was catching up quickly when I noticed he wasn’t as fast as he once was; he could no longer hear me call his name; and he could no longer see the toy I threw for him to fetch.
Gary loved the sun. Keenly aware that he was a white dog, I had to limit his exposure. Still, he would just sit in the sun and meditate. During those times, he was relaxed and quiet.
Then, out of nowhere, he cried out in pain. It wasn’t just one yelp. He was in excruciating pain. I rushed him to the emergency vet. They gave us meds and instructions to keep him confined in his crate for 2 weeks. It seemed to work.
We soon noticed that Gary’s gait became very unsteady to the point that he fell several times. It was awful to watch. I rushed him to emergency, again. Once that was resolved, the pain returned a few weeks later. Again, I took him to emergency.
This became a common occurrence, until I finally asked that a neurosurgeon see him. A wonderful neurosurgeon conducted extensive neurological exams to determine what was causing his issues. The diagnosis was in. Gary had Autoimmune Central Nervous System Disease. It’s a disease that the neurologist said is more common in smaller dogs. I don’t know if it’s common, but it’s more common in smaller dogs.
Gary’s case was severe, so he was put on three autoimmune suppressants, including chemotherapy. The neurologist did warn me that if he relapsed, it would be difficult (if not impossible) to get under control. Gary relapsed three times. On his third relapse, Gary was in great, great pain. I took him to emergency. I called beforehand, so the vets were ready to get him in quickly. After a thorough examination, the neurologist and another vet said the most humane thing to do for Gary was to let him go. We decided that they were right. We couldn’t stand to see him in so much pain.
I ran to McDonalds to buy him a hamburger—a luxury I never allowed him because his digestive system couldn’t tolerate it. Gary had always been on a strict, bland diet. Since I knew this was his last day, I indulged him. Oddly enough, although Gary ate the burger, he ate it because it was there, not because he enjoyed it. His primary concern was for me get him out of the hospital. On that day, it wasn’t going to happen—at least not in the way he wanted. Instead, he left by crossing the proverbial Rainbow Bridge and into the Gates of Heaven.
He’s gone now. I’m saddened beyond belief. I can hardly breathe. I have been through this multiple times. It never gets easier. My house feels empty now, mostly because Gary took with him his quirky neuroses, including his incessant barks.
I can honestly say that I would take the worst day with Captain Quirk over the best day with anybody else.
Gary was my boy. I will miss him until the day I die. Until then, he is tucked safely in my heart. along with all of my other furkids who went before him.
Rest well, my sweet Gary boy.