Past midlife, exploring radical faith, trying to be as honest as I can about the things that matter. Justice, good food, learning, mercy, faith, hot soup and bread, integrity, watching people grow and change, knitting with natural fibers, sunflowers in September...
George entered our family in 2006.
We picked him up from the animal shelter on the way home from the MCC sale that year.
I'd wanted a dog for our son.
It seemed good to us that our son would have an animal friend who would be there for him in ways we could not. I'd been watching our local animal shelter's web page, and seen this litter. After calling the shelter, we discovered this litter of puppies was born on our son's birthday! It seemed like a perfect choice. We reserved one of the puppies.
We did not tell our son until we went to the shelter.
The mother of the litter had been in a foster home during the time the litter was born and raised to weaning age, so she and her puppies had just been brought back to the shelter. They were getting a lot of attention in the shelter lobby, and I was glad I'd already spoken for one of the puppies.
George, or Curious George, as he had been named by the foster family, was the largest puppy in the litter. As we watched our son get to know the puppies, I overheard one of the foster family children talk about George being their favorite puppy in the litter. That boded well for us. He must be a personable little guy.
I filled out the paperwork and paid the fees, and we headed home with George. Our plan was that George would be an indoor dog, and would share our son's bedroom.
House training did not go well with little George. I'm a pretty determined person, so we kept at it for 6-8 weeks, trying to watch George for signals, taking him out frequently, rewarding him for success. George wanted to eliminate in the house. At least that was how it seemed. At the end of that time, he still would come inside after being taken out and exercised, and eliminate on my bedroom carpet.
We live on a farm, so George became an outdoor dog.
Later, when my daughter and I were talking about George, she remembered his adoption day with one detail that I was not aware of. The family who had George mentioned that he had been the runt of the litter when he was born. George had to be a very pushy and stubborn and strong willed pup to be able to go from being the runt of the litter to being the largest puppy in the litter in his first eight weeks of life.
At any rate, George grew up to be a lovely farm dog, clever, willing to learn everything except how to stop chasing cars. He did learn to avoid being hit, or maybe he was extraordinarily lucky. We built him a fence to keep him off the road, but he learned to climb it, like a ladder. Not a dummy, that one.
He has seemed to be showing signs of age in the last year.
He has picked up storm anxiety and we could tell the weather by how badly George wanted into the house. The anxiety did not ease when he was indoors either, and he would damage doors and woodwork scratching to get away from his fears. We set up a crate in the storm shelter that could hold him, and added a radio to the room. When George needed to be inside, he ran to the crate. We kept the light on so that he could not see lightening, and kept the radio turned up to drown out thunder, and that is how he rode out the storms his last 2-3 years.
This week he stopped eating.
He started moving very slowly, as though he were in pain. We called the vet, and then got some aspirin to help him. Yesterday he seemed a bit better, and we thought he was getting well.
We were wrong. George died last night.
It will take a while to get used to his absence.
We will miss him.