17 days ago our dog Luke died. He died on Maya's birthday. Nice memory from your seventh birthday, right? It couldn't be helped. He was old for a big dog. Eleven. We got him when he was two, and Lilly was two and Allie was six months old. The family we got him from was dog sitting for a friend who said, "we don't want him back, just let him go." They didn't, and for that we were lucky. We drove two hours to go meet him-when we got there, we were greeted by a gigantic, long legged, growly beast. He was protecting his family and we were intruders. I thought for sure Will would say no, but he immediately wanted him, I wasn't completely convinced, but I liked him enough (the dog and my husband) so I said yes and we took him home. He paced the house the entire first night home-he didn't lie down until 2:00 in the afternoon the next day. I was worried that we'd made a mistake. I was wrong. I've never been more wrong. He was the most amazing dog for nine years. He was also a jerk. He would pee on things, steal from the garbage, and in the beginning he would run away if someone left the front door open, and he liked to run down the center line of our road. He settled down after about two years...He became the BEST dog. He was MY dog. I mean he was all of ours, but he was my dog. And I complained about cleaning up poop and trash, but he was totally worth it. He was the sheddiest dog I've ever known. He was like 12 dogs shedding in the springtime. All. Year. Long. He was fiercely protective of us. All the kids, even the ones who don't live here, became his as soon as they entered our yard. Luke would not let anyone get between him and any kid. He would put himself in front of any child and stay there if a person he didn't recognize walked toward her. It wasn't until I told him it was okay that he would relax. He hated the mail carrier. Hated her. We actually got a dangerous dog notice put in the mail roster-you know, the one that says "do not deliver mail if the dog is out"? We all found this hilarious as he would never ever bite anyone, but he sure did put on a good show. The Chinese food delivery guy used to bring him biscuits, and he'd let him right in the front door. He was a good guard dog unless there were treats, and then forget it. He loved to be outside. Loved the cat. Loved all of us. He and Ned had something sweet. He'd call, "Woookiee, woookiee wooookeeeee!" and that dog would come every time.
They would lie together on the floor and share meals. And yes, it went both ways. My boy loves dog food, and my dog loved boy food, so it worked out well. He was the most loyal dog I have ever met. He started going down hill just after he turned eleven in March. I could tell the time was coming for him to go. He wasn't eating, was unable to hold down even water at times, and was having trouble getting up. It is such a hard call to make, especially when he seemed mostly okay if he was outside. it was the back and forth- he's fine, no he's really not, okay maybe...but that Friday morning, Maya's birthday, I knew. I woke up that morning and he just looked different. He wasn't himself anymore. I called the vet that afternoon to make an appointment to bring him in and let him go the following day. The woman who answered the phone was very kind and said that if we needed to bring him in sooner, to call. I mostly laughed at her and said he'd be fine until the next day. We got home about 3:00 (Maya and her friend Ryleigh had skipped school to have a day of birthday fun) and waited for the bus to bring everyone else home. Our house is the neighborhood bus stop, so we usually have a dozen or so kids here every day after school until between 4:30 and 5:00. We absolutely love this. I let Luke out when we got home and he seemed okayish. I knew I had made the right call in scheduling him for the following day, but he seemed more himself than he had that morning.. I got the camera out to document Maya's Birthday fun with her friends, but also to get a few shots of Luke. He barked as the bus turned the corner just like always, and trotted to the gate to greet everyone. He made the rounds checking on who he was in charge of that day and then settled into the afternoon. We were having cupcakes and playing when I noticed that he was having trouble walking. He looked drunk and kept falling sideways. It was upsetting.. It was bad enough that several of the kids started to cry-even the ones who don't live here. I called the vet and told them we needed to come in immediately. It was awful. We were all in various states of weeping, trying to hold it together and say our goodbyes. I am convinced that he waited. He waited for His kids to get home, to make sure they were okay, to say goodbye.Will took him to the vet and I stayed with the kids. It was not the best time. We talked about what we'd like to do to remember him and decided to buy a Hydrangea plant to put where he used to hang out in the garden.. We finally got it planted last night, and it looks awesome. We have such a nice way to remember him now, to be reminded of him when we're in the yard, his favorite place to be.