Since the fall of 1991, when my fiancée-now-wife and I got a black kitten with lottery winnings, there has not been a night in our home without a pet in it. Until now.
Since early 1992—with the exception of an approximately one-month window—when we purchased a Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy from a local breeder, there has not been a night in our home without a dog in it. Until now.
Today we said good-bye to our sweet Winston. The slow kidney failure that had plagued him for nearly a year finally caught up, and it was time to let him go.
This one hits our family a little differently than the other two dogs we've had. With our first, Linus, it was just me and my wife, no kids, and we were quite devastated when his time with us was cut short from a tumor on his stomach. Our rebound dog, a Shar-Pei/Pit bull/couple-of-other-breeds mutt, Clancy, was equally sweet, and very protective of our firstborn when we brought him home from the hospital. But Winston was the first dog who truly had his boy. And our oldest was the first of us to truly have his dog.
Winston joined our family when our oldest was four. A friend who fostered dogs for the local humane society, and lived in the same neighborhood as us, knew of our love of Corgis from Linus. She called us one day to say, "I have a Corgi at my house." She was informed we'd be over shortly. The first day was our meeting Winston; the name was one given to him by the humane society, and we liked it so we kept it. The second day was Winston meeting Clancy on neutral ground there in the neighborhood. That went well enough that the next day Winston spent the night at our house to see how he'd get along with the two cats and the general goings-on of our household. That was a Friday, and Saturday was going to be his first day of availability to be adopted from the humane society. They were having a big event at our local pet store. Winston did not make an appearance.
I will not forget the look on the humane society volunteer's face when we told her we were there to adopt a dog, she asked which one, we told her, and she got confused that we didn't have a dog with us. "Where is he?" she asked.
"At our house," I replied with a smile. And then she got the above story, we got paperwork to fill out, the humane society got a check, and we had a second dog in the house.
When it was time for this ultimate decision to be made for Winston, there were many tears from all the humans in the household, but especially from our oldest. In my wife's words, he and Winston were "two peas in a pod". Bad day at school? Go lie down with Winston for some puppy therapy. Bad game on the ice? Go lie down with Winston for some puppy therapy. Mad at your parents because you're a teenager who's trying to figure out who he is and you're bumping up against the boundaries of authority? Go lie down with Winston for some puppy therapy.
I was with Linus and Clancy each when their time came, and there was no hesitation on my part that I would do the same for Winston. I left the decision on whether he wanted to be there as well to my oldest. There was no hesitation on his part, either.
Winston rode in his boy's lap on the drive from our house to the vet's office. He stuck his nose out the window a few times to sniff the air. He got lots of love and was talked to constantly.
It took both of us to gingerly get him down from his perch on his boy's lap to the ground. He had developed arthritis in his left back leg on top of all the internal turmoil he was enduring. He had to be helped over the curb from the parking lot to the grass surrounding the office. But he spent his last moments before being led inside by a tech sniffing the ground, exploring a relatively unknown space, and dutifully doing his business and making his mark.
When the moment came, there were many tears from me and my son. There was also a new pain and sadness to consider, one I hadn't experienced with our other two dogs: the pain a parent feels seeing such sadness of loss from his child. Sadly, I know this will not be the last time for that, but such is life.
We thanked God for bringing Winston into our home. We thanked Him for the love that poured forth between this sweet little, teddy-bear puppy and the humans he shared an abode with. We offered our hope to Him that we be reunited some day.
Until that day, I will miss you, sweet Winston. I love you.
Clancy Turner, 2000-2013
aka Clancypants, Clancifer, Clance, C
Yesterday, we had to make that most difficult of decisions pet owners have to make. Seemingly overnight, our Shar-Pei/bull terrier mix dog developed what our vet theorized was a brain tumor. He had become blind, and was so disoriented and off-balanced he could barely walk. Being this discombobulated led to severe nausea and lack of appetite. This was no way for our family protector to live, and the outlook for any sort of treatment was bleak.
So we said goodbye to our faithful companion, who has watched over all the children of our family; enjoyed a good tussle with fellow packmate Winston, our Corgi; looked forward to automobile rides, even if it meant a visit to the vet; and loved to chase a tennis ball around the house or yard. We love you, sweet Clancy.
You were a good dog.
I have the LOLcat web site's RSS feed in my feed reader. I don't read it every day, but there are days when I'll get caught up on the past week or two's worth of photos. Some of these photos will garner the toothless smile. Others will get a big grin. Rarer still are the ones which make me laugh. This one... This one made me snort water through my nose.
Taking the garbage to the curb tonight, my eye caught winged movement to my right. I looked up to see a bird alighting on one my neighbor's gables. This wasn't a bird the size of a robin or some similar worm feeder. This was definitely a bird of prey, and what birds of prey hunt at night, dear children? A few minutes later, I followed the lads out in to the backyard, them to do their business before we retired for the evening, me to see if I could spot the owl with my flashlight without said light finding its way into neighboring windows. Both of the dogs reacted as the owl flew overhead, and it landed on the very top of the house behind ours, the silhouette unmistakable against the nightly sky of a nearly full moon. After a few seconds the lads lost interest, but I remained still, except to point my torch at the bird and hit the light. He was facing away from us, but did swivel that head around for a quick peek, the light reflecting orange in his eyes. I killed the light and continued to watch, and about thirty seconds later, off he flew toward another house. And despite the usage of the commonly associated owl call in this post's title, not a peep out of the bird the entire time I was able to observe him. I really wish I had some NVGs or a night-vision adapter for my camera, or something. There's an owl stalking within our neighborhood, and that's really cool.
My wife has coined a new term for certain members of our household. Last night, as she was scolding Clancy and Winston for some typical doggie misbehavior, she apparently could not decide which one to name first, and it came out "Clanston". Now the lads have a collective name.
For those of you who don't know the phisch family pet history, the missus and I both grew up cat people. Our first dog was a Pembroke Welsh Corgi, our beloved Linus (forgive the wretched HTML work on that page). Linus was a great first dog, and he certainly endeared the Corgi breed to us. Clancy was our rebound dog. We adopted him from the local humane society a little over a month after Linus died. It was just too weird for us, after a decade, to not have a dog in the house. Clancy's a great dog, too, though his allergies and skin issues (he's part Shar-Pei) can be off-putting at times. He's super-sweet, gets along great with the little phisch, and we'd been thinking at one time or another how nice it would be for him to have a playmate. As of yesterday, he does. Presenting...Winston!
As you can see, Winston has already made himself at home. Obedience training with regard to dogs being on the furniture has already commenced. Our friend Wendy, who lives a couple of blocks away, volunteers as a foster home for the Flower Mound Humane Society, and gave us a call Thursday night. "Normally I wouldn't bother you guys about a new dog we're fostering," she said, "but I'm on my way to pick up a Corgi..." That was all that needed to be said. We stopped by their house later that evening to meet Winston, who was, well, a typical young Corgi: exuberant, happy, full of energy. We immediately liked him. I went by the house, put Clancy on a leash, and brought him back down to meet Winston on some neutral turf. The boys did the meet-and-sniff, and then generally ignored one another as I took them both for a long walk. We ended the evening determining we would bring Winston over for a play date the next day, to see how Clancy acted around him on home ground. We had some concerns with regard to Clancy and another dog. Clancy was another rescued animal, and he had either (a) been fought by the type of "macho" assholes (you'll pardon the language, but I can't think of any nice terms to adequately describe these people) who fight dogs, or (b) just generally had his butt kicked by life on the street. He has some food aggression issues, meaning we've been careful to keep the cats out of the kitchen when he's eating, and we've taught the little phisch not to bother Clancy during feeding times. So Friday afternoon I trooped Clancy down the street, we picked up Winston, and I walked the two of them back. We went first to the back yard, where I turned the boys loose for a bit. We needn't have worried about Clancy and another dog on his turf. If anything, it was Winston who was all about the growling and snapping, which occurred when he felt Clancy invaded his personal space just a tad too much. When the sky opened and it began to sprinkle, I moved the party inside, which is where the real test would be, at least as far as Clancy was concerned. It was pretty much same-old, same-old between the two canines in the house, too. Winston was exploring, Clancy was following, some times getting too close for Winston's comfort, I behind them both at a small distance, observing and waiting to step in if necessary. The missus and little phisch arrived home during this time, and Winston got a dose of life with the entire family for a little while.
The decision was made that so long as we could work around the food issue, we were keeping Winston. We decided an overnight visit would be helpful, and calls were made to appropriate parties to let them know of our interest in Winston, keeping him overnight, etc. Having a trial overnight stay ballooned in to our going out to grab a bite to eat, then stopping by the newly-opened Petco to take advantage of their grand opening sale. The cats needed food, and we bought a small bag of food for Winston, along with some other supplies. (Clancy has prescription hypo-allegenic food we get from the vet.) We arrived home, and it was feeding time. Things went very well. The boys are fed at the same time, but separately, and neither bothered the other. Each was curious as to what remains might be in the other's bowl afterwards, but c'mon, these are rescue dogs; they don't leave anything behind in their bowls. Winston was a little restless during the night, not surprisingly, but all was well. Breakfast went like dinner the night before, and the more the two dogs have spent around one another, the more comfortable Winston became. The Flower Mound Humane Society held an Adopt-a-Pet Saturday at our PetSmart, and we stopped by to finalize the adoption of an eighteen month-old pup, bringing a Corgi back in to our house for the first time in five years. (There was also at least one other person interested in adopting Winston, so keeping Winston overnight and alerting FMHS we wanted to adopt him played to our favor.) The impression Linus made on us was much deeper than I think either of us realized. All throughout the day Saturday, the missus and I kept making the same basic observation to one another: it's very comforting to have a Corgi in the house again. Winston's not a replacement for Linus, because you can't replace a beloved pet. Winston's his own dog, that's for sure. And our love for Clancy isn't diminished; in fact, it's enhanced, because we see how readily he's accepting Winston in to the family pack. I'm continually amazed at the capacity for love God grants us. It sure is nice to have a Corgi in the house again.