I can’t believe my buddy of nine years is gone. seems just like yesterday I was driving to meet him for the first time where he was given up for adoption. The first time I saw Dude, he was a year and a half young, red furred, hundred and thirty-five pounds of pure sweetness. The man who owned the kennel had his five-year old daughter scratching his ears. As I walked up to meet them all, the little girl said,”Dude is the nicest dog ever, just look at the top of his nose. It looks like a heart. God put it there so everyone would know how good Dude is.” Man, that was an understatement.
After spending an hour walking him, and getting to know him, Kennel owner guy said “Sign the papers, there is no doubt, that Dude is adopting YOU!” SO the next thing I know, I am driving home with my addition to the family. Remember, I said he was 135 pounds? He was also about four-foot long to boot. I had a small Ford Ranger, and Dude refused to ride shotgun!
We took a few weeks to get to know each other. I also had another furry pal, Cody, at the time. Dude was huge, and thought everybody else was just as big, playful, and durable as he. In other words, the big guy was a bull in the China shop. He sent poor Cody to the doctor’s office with a four-inch gouge just below her eye. He ran through the fence wile paling, and though he returned when the neighbor told him too, Cody was on the lam for two days!
I was having a bbq one afternoon with some friends, and Dude walked into the house, grab a five-pound dish of crab bisque, and took it outside and consumed the entire thing. Well, it almost killed him! He never moved for over three hours. Once he came back to life, he became good friends with the chef who made that dish.
Through out the years, Dude and I had many an adventure. Most better than Twain could have ever created for Huck. We used to go for walks under the overpass by my house. There were always drugged out bums doing the stupid crap that their habit makes them do. Dude would always growl and snarl at em’, and they would cuss back at us. I would always tell em’ “If I ever find any of my, our my neighbor’s property in their possession, I would let Dude be their judge,jury, and executioner.” Well, I did not say it quite like that, but this is a family friendly blog!
Not being a guy that leaves home for more than a day or two, I know, for a fact, I never spent more than two days apart from Dude. Just like I had never spent more than two weeks apart from my father until his death in 97. While the bond between me and my pop was unbelievably close, the friendship between me and Dude was a clear-cut second place.
I came home late Tuesday afternoon, and realized Dude was still in the same place as when I left that morning. He had hip dysplasia for quite some time, but he was not in pain, and still was able to bark at cats, and walk the fence and bark at thugs. When I called him, he just gave me a look that instantly told me that he was having a serious issue. It is amazing to be able to communicate with an animal. It is truly a blessing that God gives to some of us. I went to help pick him up, and Dude gently bit down on my arm. I knew at that very second, that God was asking me to return Dude. Heck, I am so blessed He loaned him to me for nine years.
I called my friend the vet, and his staff would meet me when we arrived. We had a great ride down to Turlock, and I told Dude how much I loved him, and that our first ride together was so much different from our last, but I would not change a thing. Dude just looked at me and I knew he was not sad, and that he knew that he was heading to a place where he could run and play once more. And that he knew that this would make me happy. And that is what Dude did very, very well; Make me happy. Dude being Dude always helped me to remember that there is a God. So when they carried my once one hundred and thirty-five pound ball of “happy” into the room where he would breathe his last breath, and close his eyes one last time, I said my thanks and good byes to my best friend. I tell you what, I can kick a lot of ass, and take a lot of pain, and do it with a smile, but I looked at my friend, who was strapped to the gurney, with a tube in his leg, waiting for the final shot, Dudes lat words to me where,” I love you, thanks for being my friend, and please wait outside while I do this, because I know how you want to remember me.” I thanked him, and told Doctor Rob to let me know when Dude was back with God. And that is the last I saw of him.
I sat in the backyard for the first time in nine years, and drank beer, and listened to George Jones, Dudes favorite, without him. Damn, sad and country music go great together. I know my friend is in Doggy Heaven, chasing cats that are in Kitty Hell! And I know that Dude’s passing has opened up the door for another of God’s gifts to find their way to my home, and my heart.