Thursday, July 22, 2010

Saying good-bye

When someone has been part of your family for nearly 14 years, he will be missed. Today Gimli, our rather absurd afghan-something cross, was assisted in his downhill descent into the intangible. For a dog, he was a rather intent on communicating with his people, and at the end, those who were close enough to him to notice heard him say 'enough'. Bye, Gimli!

Gimli came to us from the pound. We made the mistake of stopping by in case they had a suitable puppy for a daughter to give her brother for his 14th birthday. That was the start of the challenges of owning a dog who didn't believe in fences, who hated thunder, and was scared to death of water.

Gimli always got out. There wasn't a fence high enough to contain him IF he wanted to leave. He often wanted to leave. How a rather short dog, half the height of a full-blooded afghan, could scale a 6-foot fence is something we never learned. But he did. Many many times.

He was also constantly on the alert for the chance open door. He had just learned to be obedient - sometimes - to the command to sit when he took advantage of someone opening the front door a crack and instantly he was bulleting across the front lawn to the high-traffic road beyond. We yelled for him to stop, we said no, and then someone thought to say, "Sit, Gimli". With just a moment's hesitation, he sat. He was about 6 feet from being run over. GOOD BOY, GIM!

Gimli stayed home better after the kids got him a puppy of his own. Gimli, to whom running was the greatest of pleasures, ran around and around in a circle in the back yard, while the tiny puppy watched him from a squat. The tiny puppy grew till he was taller than Gimli, but his lightbulb never quite turned on. He ended up the bulk of 3 Gimlis - Gimli was always very slight - but his battery was always close to running down. Still, Gimli was loyal to him and started to stay home.

Gimli loved to play ball. Bounce a ball and he grabbed it out of the air. Tell him to get the ball and he searched all over the house till he found it. Tell him to go get his chewy toy and he returned with the chewy toy. Soon he fetched several different objects by name. Tell him no, he couldn't go over the fence and he just didn't understand.

After we moved to a house with no fence, Gimli and his young companion were treated to electric fencing. They both respected it - for a while. Later we could hear Gimli screaming as he streaked through the fence - he had learned it only hurt for a moment, and then he was FREE!

The problem was, he couldn't get back in without more pain, so we often found him wandering around on the outside of the periphery.

Gimli never got himself in real trouble. He was always scared of thunder and hard to find during a storm - he could make himself very small so he could hide in tight quarters and feel safe. He likewise hid when someone called to him from the bathroom with the water running. Then he skulked and shivered. He was always kind to people. He always looked earnestly into the eyes of those he loved, clearly transmitting a message of great importance and intensity.

Toward the end, he took to breaking into the garden to sleep in the cool of the irrigated plants. He stopped being able to walk. He lost weight. He turned from fawn to gray.

Today he made his final escape. Go, Gimli!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's a great tribute and a sweet post. Thanks for sharing.