Love and loss

I hope you will forgive yet another post about the loss of Champ, our family dog of many years. Writing about him is one way of coping with his death. He and I had such a close bond that I’m sure I’ll continue to feel his loss for a long time. This will be the last post on this topic for a while, though.

Random thoughts and memories:

  • To this day, I can’t figure out why on earth Champ’s previously family — who purchased him as an expensive, purebred AKC puppy from an award-winning breeder — was so anxious to get rid of him, so uncaring as to offer him up for free on Craigslist. But thank the Lord they did. We’ve always thought of him as a rescue dog who changed our lives.
  • About the only thing I don’t miss is the hair. As a typical long-haired dog, Champ shed a lot. We will be vacuuming up his hair from the carpet and picking it out of the laundry for a long time to come.
  • Mentioning his hair — it was a beautiful golden red color, a little unusual for the breed, and to make it even more special, it was the exact same shade as Brinley’s.
  • The last hour or so of Champ’s life was chaotic, mentally and emotionally, and I have some regrets. But the last thing I gave him before we left for the vet was something he passionately loved: bread. I’ve never known a dog so fond of bread! The second we opened a loaf, his ears perked up, he gave a good sniff, and, when able, he’d come over to see if he could get a piece of it. He loved all types of food but bread was extra, extra special to him.
  • Grief is a funny, unpredictable thing. It comes and goes in waves. As an example, when I came home from work last night, his death really hit me again, because Champ wasn’t waiting for me at the top of the stairs to our front door. He wasn’t there, lying on the floor watching us as we ate supper, and he wasn’t there to demand to be put outside to go to the bathroom. He wasn’t there to say goodnight to.
  • I learned that when a dog is put down, typically it’s done in two stages. First, the vet gives the dog a sedative and the dog goes to sleep. Next, the vet injects something to stop the heart, and death is final. A lasting memory of that process for Champ is what I think was a sigh of relief after he started feeling the sedative. He fell very quickly into a deep, peaceful sleep as I was holding his head. I suspect he felt deep relief for the first time in a long time, that he had been in a lot more pain and discomfort than we even realized.
  • It’s often been said and written: we can all learn a lot from the unconditional love of a good dog. Champ was extremely devoted to all of us, and he loved us always and unconditionally, on good days and bad days and anything in between. His one condition, if you could call it that, was to be with us. That’s all he cared about and that’s all that made him happy.
  • Our daughter has had problems with sleeping since she was very little, so early on, we agreed to let our dogs sleep in her room as a way to comfort her and give her a sense of security. We would always put a gate across her door and around the same time every morning, Champ would get up, knock the gate down (yes, it was loud), and barge into our bedroom (just across the hall) so that he could spend some time near to Michele and me. Due to allergies, we didn’t want our dogs to spend a lot of time in our bedroom, but we didn’t mind him doing this.
  • Champ was not a licker, and I was glad of that. But there were rare moments, especially when I got home from work, when he’d be so happy to see me that he’d give me one quick lick on the face as he greeted me. That was special.
  • He was good natured, gentle, and patient, always, perfect for our children as they grew up. We had a previous dog, Maddie, a Jack Russell terrier, whom we also loved very much, and purchased her as a little puppy. But after the first 3-4 years of her life, and our children were still little, her personality changed and she became super aggressive toward them and even towards me. I became so concerned that eventually and sadly, we gave her away to another family who did not have children. (This is fairly common behavior for the breed.) The photo below was taken of Champ and Maddie a few months after we adopted him and before Maddie’s behavior changed.

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