Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Grand Old Teddy

Not long after we bought our house in 1997, we got a dog. Well, sort of a dog. More like a maniac barking machine.

Jesse loved having a dog to play with, but Belle wasn't a very sturdy dog for a rambunctious seven-year-old, and she ended up with a broken front leg.

So we started thinking about getting a bit more rugged dog, something medium sized.

A friend of Diane's had a friend that took in a stray dog that turned out to be filled with puppies. The mommy dog was just about the perfect size, so we took a chance on one of her puppies.

Diane named him Teddy because he looked like a teddy bear. He was about the same size as Belle, but was extremely clumsy. Belle spent a lot of time making it clear that this was her house, and right up until she passed away, Teddy always deferred to her in matters of food and treats and places to lay down.

We really had no idea how big he would get, but were hoping he would be about his mom's size. But he kept growing.

And growing. One thing for sure - he was plenty rugged for Jesse. And apparently, soft.

He loved being outside, especially camping.

Teddy ended up with another little boy to raise when our grandson Riley showed up. Riley loved playing with Teddy, and Teddy was amazingly patient with him.

Unfortunately, Teddy had issues around most other dogs - he had very bad social kills. He would do OK around little dogs (like Belle, and Aubri's dog Sophia, above), but get him around any medium or larger dogs and it would not go well. So our walks were mostly an exercise in finding trails with no other dogs around.

And cats were the worst. I don't know that he hated cats so much as didn't know anything about them. If he ever saw one on a walk, he would do everything he could to get at it.

But as he grew older, he finally started to mellow. I came home one evening to see him being civil with a friend's white German Shepard. It's hard to explain how stunning this was - I never would have considered even trying to introduce them, and yet, here they were sniffing each other in our living room.

When Jesse came home with his cat, we were all very nervous. Except the cat and Teddy, who were curious about each other for a bit, and then just plain didn't care.

About six months ago Teddy's hips started to go. He still had a lot of energy (at least for a little bit), still loved to go on walks, but clearly his hips were a major issue.

Worse was that he started losing control of his bowels. He would be laying there, then sit up and do his business on his way to the back door. It became a challenge when getting up in the middle of the night to keep an eye out for where you stepped. You could tell it really bugged him to leave boom-booms in the house, but there was nothing he could do about it.

Diane was amazing at keeping him on his many medications. Most of them he couldn't stand, so they had to be disguised. When she headed back east to help her sister for nearly two weeks, it became my job, and while it started out OK, it quickly went downhill. He mostly stopped eating - I began making him boiled chicken and rice and he would eat it, but not nearly as much as normal. I could get him to take his medications for the first couple of days, but then he started becoming more suspicious and would refuse to eat anything that looked good, like this Fig Newton with a pill hidden in it.

I started feeding him strips of chicken and bits of cheese by hand, and this was fine for a couple of days, but then even that stopped appealing to him. And he had gone a long time without leaving a boom-boom, which was a bit worrisome. (I would wake up in the middle of the night, and sniff the air hopefully. One time I thought I smelled something and was thrilled! But it must have just been gas.)

He never whined or acted like he was in pain, but he clearly was miserable. He would lay in the same living room spot all day. I would coax him to go outside, drink some water, and sniff around a bit, but then he would have trouble getting up the step to come back inside. I was amazed that I could actually lift him now since he had lost so much weight.

After talking with the vet, we decided it was time to take him in. This picture is from his last morning front yard visit. He looks so perky, alert, and healthy in this picture, yet he wasn't any of those things.

He did have one remaining surprise for us though - he hadn't had a bowel movement for almost a week, and we took that as a very bad sign. Granted, he wasn't eating a lot, but still something should have happened. And it did, in the vet's waiting room.

Teddy was far from perfect; his social skills kept us on edge when out in public. In a strange incident that made no sense, he bit a woman on the thigh while we were away and a friend was taking him for a walk. And he shed like nobody's business - we will be finding his hair in things for years to come.

Teddy is hugely missed. I swear I still hear him several times a day. He lived for over thirteen years, which is amazing for a dog of his size. He was never sick and was very little trouble (other than his early need to gnaw on everything and destroy anything we planted in the backyard).

We will eventually get another dog or two - Riley can't believe we haven't already done that (and is positive that he's the one to pick them out). But for now we will wait a bit. And remember the legend that was Idiot Dog Teddy for many years before becoming Old Dog Teddy.

That's it - move along...

PS: You can see more pictures here.


NCL said...

Thank you,

DAK said...

That's beautiful, NotThat. The ghost of Mischief and the present day me thank Teddy greatly for his parting summary of the meaning of life in the doctor's office. He waited all week to do that. Bless him and you guys too for trying so hard.

Beth said...

well written
sniff, off to find tissue

mary ann said...

A very special post and I loved the photos. So many memories ~ thank you for this beautiful piece notthat. May you all heal, even if Teddy didn't heel sometimes.

notthatlucas said...

DAK: Ha ha ha - I hadn't thought of his parting "gift" that way!

MAS: Teddy "heeling" was not going to happen. When he wanted something, he went for it and you could yell HEEL all you wanted. There was one though that he saw a dog across the street and bolted for him. His leash broke and I knew this was going to end badly. I yelled TEDDY NO! and unbelievably, he stopped and came back. I was stunned. He was much wiser than I ever gave him credit.