I am a dog lover. Actually, to say I am a dog lover is the understatement of a lifetime. I’m always going on about not letting anyone else define my pretty, but in my opinion, it doesn’t get any prettier than a dog.
Each morning when I wake up, I call mine up into my bed and give them morning snuggles. This morning Rocket Pop, the baby and wild child of the group, was laying right beside me, Lilly-Putt, the oldest, was curled up against my back, and Jingle-Belle, Lilly’s younger sister, was laying across my legs.
As I looked into Rocket Pop’s eyes I wondered what goes on behind them. Dogs don’t possess that apathy that humans are so capable of showing toward others. I can tell you I have never walked into my house and had any of my dogs look up at me and not move, as if to say, “oh….it’s just you.” In fact, when you walk through our back door, there is a mad rush of the herd to greet you. Overwhelming? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.
They don’t care that I’m OCD about my house and on the rare occasions that it’s a mess, they are oblivious to it. In fact, Rocket Pop will run through the house with sheer delight at the sight of rarely seen items on the floor. He finds the unusual clutter overwhelmingly wonderful. He will grab a shoe, and rip through the kitchen at light speed, clearly rejoicing in his newly found treasure. His joy is apparent as he pounces, jumps up, completes a 180 midair, tumbles to the floor, and finally puts front paws down, booty up—a clear sign of playtime.
Even more fun for my trio of hooligans is when they go downstairs to Alec ‘s room, which they consider a wonderful playground of bliss. Rocket Pop gets so pumped that rather than run all of the stairs, halfway down, he launches his body wildly into the air, crashing onto the living room floor. Remaining completely oblivious to his disastrous landing, he steams full speed ahead into Alec’s domain, like a runaway freight train. Of course, Lilly and Jingle Belle are trailing in hot pursuit, eyes sparkling with mischievous delight, tails wagging so quickly the entire back halves of their bodies are wiggling, as they enter this amazing buffet of their human brother’s life.
Lilly, usually finds a sock and sneaks away with it quickly, while Jingle Belle finds her moment of Zen trotting straight to Alec’s bed, jumping in and landing with a heavy flop. Rocket Pop quickly grabs the first thing he can and bounces around like a kid at Christmas. While he fears his sisters may steal it from him, he can’t help but flaunt it in their faces, like “na-na na-na boo-boo.”
These three rapscallions are separated by two years each. As puppies, they were cute and adorable, but when they were momentarily unsupervised, as Nonnie would say, it was like hell broke out for recess. In spite of all my preventative measures, nothing escaped the plunder. Credit cards, window sills, arm chairs, tv remotes–literally nothing was safe. This is how Jingle Belle earned her titles of “Killer of Uggs, Hater of the Color Pink, and The Destroyer of Window Sills.” She even shredded her own brand-new, puppy bed.
But as all puppies do, they grew out of that unruly behavior, and became the wonderful dogs they are today. These three have loved me through the darkest times of my life. Not only did they remain by my side, you couldn’t have drug them away from me. I cried myself to sleep every night for months, and in those moments of despair, I was surrounded by three, amazingly loyal Rottweilers.
When we relocated, during one of many moving trips, we stopped for fuel. The three of them in one car can be an adrenaline-filled adventure. Rocket Pop, as always, was excited to be going bye-bye, and in all his glory, had his head out the sunroof, barking at everyone the entire time I was pumping gas.
At our current house, Lilly lays right beside my tub during my bubble baths so that she can keep an eye on the door. Rocket Pop and Jingle Belle lay right outside of the bathroom protecting and watching—a job they take seriously. As loving as they are, without a doubt, they will let someone know quickly, “this is our family and make no mistake, we will lose our lives to protect theirs.” In those moments, when they have felt a threat, I have been in awe of their protective and fearless instincts.
Whether the threat was real or not, they acted within their nature. On one occasion, the UPS man rang the doorbell and Jingle Belle perceived this as a threat. All 180 pounds of her slammed against that door, sending the stained-glass window onto the front porch, and the UPS man running for his truck. The alarm went off, ADT was called, and the police were dispatched. They arrived to find Jingle Belle innocently sticking her head out the oval hole that remained in the door, quite pleased with her handy work.
When Alec was a little boy we adopted a Rottie named Thor. Thor was the epitome of BEST. DOG. EVER. We rescued a Rottie pup, and a few months and several vet bills later, we had nursed our little Thor back to health and he became known as our “Free-to-good-home-$3500-Rott.”
I would never change a thing. Thor was an amazing dog. I don’t have words that can adequately describe the joy and love he brought into our lives. He loved bath time at our house and it was a true battle to keep him out of the tub. He would try to climb in and if you gave him the chance, he would just launch himself into the water with you. Alec, being a little boy at the time, loved it!
My parents lived next door and my mom had been very ill and we called 911. I had run inside to grab my purse when the paramedics knocked on the back door and said they had a problem. I walked out and looked into the ambulance to find Thor, sitting in the back of the ambulance beside my mom, refusing to leave her side. Later we laughed as my mom told us that the paramedics asked her how to get her dog out of the ambulance and mom replied, “he’s not my dog.”
But he loved her like he was her dog.
Thor absolutely loved the pool at our house. He would stay in that pool for hours, swimming in circles, climbing out the steps, running along the side, and jumping back in repeatedly. We called him the “Cannonball King.” Alec and his friends taught him to stand up on his hind legs, front paws against the wall, and let them search him for weapons. They loved patting him down and he would stand there patiently grinning from ear to ear while they did it. He loved Alec and was always by his side, even if he had to escape to accomplish it. One time he finagled his way out of our fenced-in yard and ran to Alec’s elementary school behind our house. He was having a grand time at recess with all of the kids until the janitor brought him home.
Thor helped Alec through elementary, junior high, and high school. His whiskers were getting gray, but he still swam like a champ and he even had his own facebook page. I noticed, though, that he started to act like he didn’t feel well and I worried he might be in pain. During a late-night trip to the vet, I was told that our beautiful Thor was filled with cancer. He was in so much pain and we just had no choice but to put him to sleep. Alec, however, was at a college party and there was no way I was not letting him have a chance to say goodbye to his lifelong best friend.
I took Thor home with me. We climbed into my bed and I held him. I thought of all the times we had played, swam, and done cannonballs together. I remembered all the times I had heard him do his classic, “ooof” and how he was so amazing he could pose for a selfie with me and do a “fierce” or a “smile” pose. Mostly, though, I thought of all the times he laid beside me on the couch and just loved me. I thought of how deeply I loved him and how my life would never be the same without him.
As soon as Alec returned, he came straight to my room to see his dog. I started crying and immediately Alec knew. He walked over to the bed, tears streaming down his face, and held his very best friend in his arms. In spite of all the pain meds Thor was on, I felt his tail wagging against me as the boy he had loved for his entire life, kissed his face.
The next morning, we drove to the vet. I think the hardest thing I’ve ever done was ask Thor if he wanted to go bye-bye. He always associated bye-bye as such a positive, exciting thing. On the ride to the vet I watched him in the rearview mirror. He was so stoic as he sat there looking out the window. It was as if he knew his time here was almost done.
When we got to the vet, they took us to a private room, where we sat on mats and were able to love on Thor as long as we wanted. Finally, after almost two hours, I knew we had to do the right thing. I was sitting on the floor and holding my beautiful Thor between my legs. Alec sat diagonally behind me. We told Thor how much we loved him, and how very much we would miss him. He gave us our licks and kisses, but I could tell he was tired and ready to rest.
As the vet gave him the injection that would send him across the rainbow bridge, Thor reached his neck and head over my right leg, and looked up into Alec’s eyes. With the last beat of his heart and the last breath in his body, he rested his beautiful head on the leg of the boy he had loved his entire life and closed his eyes forever.
Some moments are unforgettable. As heartbreaking as it was, it perfectly illustrated the most beautiful and powerful force in the world–love. Genuine love needs no words. It is conveyed in an action, a behavior, and yes, a wag of the tail. Our hearts were broken that day, but that pain was indicative of the monumental place he had in our lives. We were blessed to have been given such a beautiful soul to grace our presence for a decade and we would do it again, and again, and again.