A Boy and His Dog

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To say that Jason’s dog Dieter is special is like saying Michael Phelps is a so-so swimmer.  Jason acquired Dieter through a German Short-Haired Pointer rescue a few months before I met him.  I remember my first encounter with Dieter.  He was trembling so hard I could hear his teeth rattle inside his little brown head, and he walked away from me the moment my hand made contact with his silky ears.  I love animals so my feelings were just crushed when I was given the cold shoulder.  Jason told me not to take it personally because Dieter was terrified of everything and everyone.  Jason then told me all he knew of Dieter’s past….he was approximately four years old, had apparently lived a rough life, had been at the shelter for several months and didn’t know the first thing about being a dog.  Dieter had no use for toys, wouldn’t roll over on his belly, didn’t enjoy affection, believed “fetch” to be a ridiculous concept and refused to make eye contact.  Clearly Jason adopted damaged goods but that is exactly why he loved Dieter, and why I came to love him too.

I decided I’d just let Dieter come to me when he was ready and so this delicate dance between us lasted for a couple of months.  I’d sit on the floor and Dieter would come within a foot and as soon as I’d reach out to him he’d shiver and be off again.  Jason and I had to earn his trust and eventually we did after several months.  And it was one of the most rewarding experiences!   I still remember the first time Dieter actually looked back at me, staring directly into my eyes.  We held each other’s gaze for only a few moments but that was our breakthrough!  Only days later Dieter allowed me to rub his belly…the ultimate sign of trust for a dog!

Dieter is now roughly 10-11 years old.  He has only a few teeth left, an enlarged spleen, a herniated disc, poor eyesight and hearing (although he hears the treat jar open from upstairs so I’m questioning this diagnosis), and loves to eat grass which he then conveniently regurgitates on various rugs throughout the house…but never the tile!  He’s a mess.  And I think he really misses his dad.

Dieter wasn’t doing well at all a few weeks ago so I took him back to the veterinarian fully expecting to be driving home without him.  I was thinking “well isn’t this just great timing…my entire family will eventually just be ashes sitting on top of the dresser in my bedroom.”  I didn’t want Dieter to suffer but I also wasn’t ready to say goodbye to him only months after saying goodbye to Jason.   I cried the entire way to the vet’s office and kept looking back at Dieter’s eyes in my rear view mirror, and remembering the first time he allowed me to look directly into those shiny brown eyes and see the pain that was his past.  And then I remembered the sparkle that was always present in Jason’s brown eyes…and then I just had to pull the car over because it was all too much to absorb.   Trying to navigate Wendover Avenue at 8am through a veil of tears isn’t easy.

The vet took x-rays that morning and said his spleen wasn’t any larger than it had been a year ago and as long as we kept him on an anti-inflammatory and pain meds, then he’d probably be just fine for a few more months.  I was glad to hear this news because Dieter generally seems like a happy dog.  His little nub of a tail is always wagging and he prances around the backyard like a puppy from time to time.  But I was just terrified that his spleen would rupture while I was at work and he’d die slowly and alone.  So now Dieter is on a variety of pills and we monitor his spleen closely to make sure it isn’t getting any larger.  Once that begins to happen then it will in fact be time to make “the decision” which I dread but also realize is part of the inevitable circle of life.

The picture above of Jason and Dieter was taken at Hanging Rock a few months after we started dating. I wish Jason didn’t have on sunglasses because he had beautiful brown eyes too and the longest eyelashes!   I miss looking into those magical pools of light and feeling the warmth that radiated from his spirit.  I’m going to miss Dieter someday too…but not today.

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