In Memory of a Great Dog

Hank resting in the tall grass
Hank resting in the tall grass

On Thursday April 6th, 2017 – I couldn’t tell you exactly what time – my wife and I had to make the difficult decision to put down our dog Hank.  He was suffering from blastomycosis, a terrible fungal infection that was making it hard for him to breathe in his last days.  We were sad to see him go, but in the last few days I’ve been looking at old photos and am happy to remember the good times we had with him.

In Memory of a Great Dog

We rescued Hank back in 2009, when he was about 4 or 5.  We didn’t get

In Memory of a Good Dog
In Memory of a Good Dog

complete records with him, and were originally told he was 4.  Turns out, he was a 2004 puppy.  No one was home when we went to pick him up – not a good sign.  His bark was loud when we knocked on the door, and sounded stressed.

We later learned that he had at least one other home before this one, and we think there was a strong possibility he was abused.  He was very uncomfortable with anything touching his back end, and was very afraid of brooms and vacuums.  I think it’s normal for dogs to be afraid of vacuums, because they make loud, scary noises.  But he would always look downright terrified when we were cleaning.

We worked with him a lot.  He was a good dog when we got him, but with time he learned better habits and warmed up to us.  He turned into a great dog, and we’re really happy we had the chance to have him in our lives for 8 years.

Bad Habits

Oh sure, he had some bad habits.  It’s hard to say what was worse: chewing underwear, or eating from the garbage can.  Considering one ends up being more expensive than the other, I think the scales tip more to the underwear chewing.  But he also loved to eat paper, and especially paper from the garbage.

Hank got himself into a spot of trouble one day - trapped in the garbage lid.
Hank got himself into a spot of trouble one day – trapped in the garbage lid.

We discovered this early on, and quickly bought a garbage can with a lid.  It was one of those lids that swings open, rather than closing tightly.  Naturally, we found him one day with his head sticking through the lid with the most innocent look on his face.  He was pretty pleased with what he did, if not a little bit confused at our reaction.

We definitely have gone through our fair share of toilet paper with Hank in our home.  Not because he learned to use the toilet or anything – but he seemed to love grabbing the toilet paper off the roll and eating it.  Not all of it – just some of it.  Often I would come home and find a trail of toilet paper – all still connected to the roll – going from the bathroom to the bed.  Again, he was always fairly pleased with himself.

Here’s an audio clip from a podcast I recorded with my friend Mike that describes one of these occasions:

Play Time

Hank loved to play, and his favourite toy by far was a ball.  Any ball.  If it was round and bounced, he wanted it.  He could even entertain himself with it, but

Hank's favourite toy - a ball.
Hank’s favourite toy – a ball.

he really loved chasing after it in the field and running.  The funny thing about when he played fetch was that he would take the same path running back to us each time.  He was terrible at tracking anything but a ball, but somehow, he knew which way he ran back each time.

Ropes and bottles were among his favourites too.  While really not great for his teeth, one of his favourite things to do with bottles was to chew them to bits.  The first step was always to pop the lid off, and then he would methodically chew at it until it was flat.  This was sometimes very helpful if we had a lot of recycling to go through.

He also really loved his walks.  He knew too, when I grabbed my headphones, it usually meant walk time.  This was a matter of disappointment for him whenever I was grabbing my headphones for a different reason.  Still, he would wag his tail at the sight of them, and go absolutely crazy at the sight of his leash.

Nap Time

I think one of the more comforting things about Hank was actually when he would settle down after a long day of play.  He had this way of curling up into a ball, or snuggling up next to you to make sure he was as comfortable as possible.  He was warm, he was soft, and he was safe.

He loved sitting on my lap, too.  If there’s one thing I’m sad that I missed out on in his last few days, it’s that he didn’t get to curl himself into my lap.  He was just too tired and physically unable to do it.  But I know that he would have felt a lot better if he could have.

In Memory of a Great Dog

To be totally honest, doing this post has probably been one of the more helpful things I’ve done since Thursday.  We still haven’t cleaned up the house – his hair is everywhere, and we are slowly moving his toys and things into one spot.

Hank's bed & make-shift sweater-blanket.
An empty bed – we used one of my sweaters as a blanket on his last night with us, and it was still in his shape.

But we can clearly see how much he ran this home, and how much of it was his.

Another thing that helped me out was an article a friend sent me yesterday from Psychology Today.  “Getting Over Rover: Why the Loss of a Dog Can Be Devastating” made a lot of sense to me, and meshed with pretty much all of the reasons why we had such a tough time dealing with it in the first few days (and we’re still dealing with it).

In Memory of a Great Dog
In Memory of a Great Dog: Hank could be photogenic – when he cooperated.

I still hear his bark when we walk in the door.  I can hear him grumble and sigh as he tries to get comfortable at bed time.  But more importantly I can see his big smile and wiggly tail.  We’ll get over his loss, and more than likely welcome a new dog into our house.  But for now, we have 8 years of memories of a great dog.

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