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Monday, January 24, 2011

A ladder to the stars

Dylan's story starts before we ever knew him.

When my kids were small but old enough to take some responsibility, we got a puppy. This puppy was Max, the World's Most Amazing Corgi. Max was intelligent, mannerly, eager to please, playful, and sweet. He would smother you with kisses and fetch a ball or frisbee or stick a hundred times. He would go out in the morning to pee and come right back in when he was done. He became my heart dog, my constant companion, and the thing that kept me from losing my mind a few times, if truth be told.


Max at around six months old

Max was with us only seven years. He died far too young and left a huge void, and that was when Dylan came into the picture.


Dylan the day we brought him home.

Dylan was found roaming the streets in Eastlake, Ohio. He was of unknown origin, untrained, about eleven pounds overweight, non-affectionate, constantly ravenous, and quite ill-behaved. We had to search him down several times before we got on the learning curve that he needed to be taken out on a leash, not just let out to pee. He roamed the neighborhood and it's a wonder he didn't get run over before we figured it out, even though it only took us a couple of days to get with the program.

We could not leave anything out. No food. No cat food. No cat litter. He would eat it. Dylan once ate a five pound bag of science diet cat food that belonged to a pair of cats we were fostering. He got sick. Sick as a dog, proverbially, to the point I wondered if we were going to lose him from the diarrhea, but he recovered in time and did not learn his lesson. He ate a whole loaf of bread. Pizza out of people's plates placed inadvisedly on laps. Bob's coat. The couch, before we figured out he needed to be in a crate when nobody was home with him. My change purse, including some of the money that was in it. Bob's wallet. Several bras.

Dylan was not playful. We bought him toys over and over but he had no interest. He did enjoy going for walks and when we went to the dog park, he adored playing with other dogs, especially big black dogs for some reason.



With sufficient exercise and by controlling his access to food, we got Dylan down to a reasonable weight for a corgi, though he was still far bigger than most at 33-34 pounds. He always had a strange gait, and I often wondered about his breeding or background. There was never a way to find out, though. He was a beautiful dog, with a tremendous outer coat and absolutely beautiful corgi eyes.

dylan

He could melt you with a look, but I had corgi experience, my heart was hardened to him. Well, mostly.

dylan monorail dog
Dylan copies an internet meme

When Bob moved in with us, Dylan adopted him. One night, we were laying in bed talking, and Dylan (who usually slept on the bed until we got wise and forbade it) crawled up between us and put his chin on Bob's chest, and gave me such a look, a look that seemed to say "thank you for getting me a man! I've always wanted one!"

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Bob was devoted to Dylan. He cleaned up after his accidents, forgave him for eating his clothing and wallet and coat and food, and took him out for walks. He made excuses for him, brushed him, and had more patience with him than most people would. Dylan was absolutely loyal to Bob and loved him completely.

From 20070722194921


When we bought our house in 2004, we loved sitting under the apple tree out back. It quickly became one of Dylan's favorite places too, especially once he figured out he could eat the apples that fell to the ground.

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Dr Bob, our vet, said they wouldn't hurt him as long as he didn't have any digestive upset from them, and if there's one thing this dog seldom had, it was digestive upset. Other than the cat food incident, he had an ironclad stomach.

Not long after we bought the house, we got a foster dog in, Miss Lily. Lily was a tiny corgi girl who had a hard life as a brood bitch in a puppy mill. Dylan fell in love with her, as did we, and they became great friends and close companions and playmates.

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Needless to say, she did not remain a foster dog for long, and we have not tried the foster parent thing since, because we know how it will go!

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Corgiluv

About a year and a half ago, we noticed his strange gait getting worse. At times he would trip over his back feet. We took him to the vet, who did x-rays. They were negative, and further testing would most likely not shown anything treatable, as to the best of my knowledge, he was at least 11 years old. Operating on him would have been risky and probably non-productive, and we did not have thousands of dollars to spend on MRIs and CAT scans when it probably would not have told us anything we could do anything about. Our vet recommended rest and a course of steroids, in case it was something simple and possibly treatable. There was no result from that course. We took a planned vacation to Pigeon Forge TN to see my daughter who lives in that area, taking the dogs with us. It was testament to Bob's devotion that he carried Dylan up and down the stairs of our cabin, every time he had to go out, and there were a lot of stairs.

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We got a wheelchair courtesy of CorgiAid's excellent loaner program. Dylan enjoyed it during the warmer weather, as it gave him a chance to exercise more and also get around the house to his apples again.

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It was very much a short-term solution, though. We knew that all along.

The last couple of weeks, we had some snow and the weather has gotten very cold. Dylan had become increasingly incontinent, and was starting to fall over with some regularity, as well as having some mental confusion. He would bark, high pitched, over and over again, to go out, then do nothing when he was taken out. He would start barking for no reason and with no resolution that could be found. His eyes took on a glazed, checked-out look. We knew it was time.

He left us very peacefully and very calmly. We imagine he is free of his confusion and pain, and chasing some big black dogs in an apple orchard somewhere.

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We'll miss you, buddy. Say Hi to Max for me, ok?

5 comments:

Terri D. said...

I love you guys. Both Dylan and Max were lucky to have you. xoxT

KnittingReader said...

I've been thinking of you today. Dylan was lucky to have such a wonderful life with you. xox, Lisa

Rozaroni said...

A lovely tribute to a dude who had a great life.

sleepsong said...

What a lovely story. I'm so sorry for you and Bob and Lily on losing such a wonderful friend.

Kitsune said...

I've just found your blog today (because you won the alpaca fleece from Juniper Moon's blog), and this post made me cry. I love Corgis, they're my second favorite type of dog.