Sunday, October 9, 2011

Goodbye Dee

About 8 years ago, my brother called me to tell me that he got a dog. Let's call him Dee. Dee was a greyhound, rescued by a lovely Canadian couple from a Florida racetrack and brought to Canada to be placed in a loving home. So the story goes, my brother walked into the kennel to pick out a dog when Dee sauntered over to him and nudged at his hand for a good ear scratch.

Little is known about Dee's pre-rescue life other than that he was likely not treated very well. His sole purpose was to race, and when he stopped winning, his "owners" made plans to discard him. When he was found by this rescue organization, he was about to be put down, had a mouthful of rotten teeth, patches of fur missing (likely "bedsores" from lying in a crate the entire day), and was all skin and bones.

Yet he had the most soulful set of eyes... It is no wonder to me that my brother fell instantly in love with him, gave him a good ear rub, and immediately took him home.

The two of them were inseparable, the truest depiction of man and his best friend that I have ever seen. Rather than put Dee in a kennel when he travelled home to see our parents, my brother would load him into the back seat of his car and drive half-way across Canada rather than take a plane. When we had a family portrait done as a gift to my mother for her 50th birthday, my brother insisted that Dee be in the picture. When my brother bought brand new couches, he swore that Dee would no longer be allowed to sit on them, but that lasted about three hours until Dee snuggled up beside him and claimed half of the love seat as his very own. Dee had my brother wrapped around his paw, and my brother loved it.

Dee had a few quirks (like his fear traffic, his vile hatred of snow and cold, and his stubborn refusal to walk a step further once he had made up his mind that he had gone far enough). But all in all, you could not ask for a more well-behaved and easy-going dog. Even when my brother brought a young Aussie puppy into the mix - first as a foster but eventually as a member of his pack - Dee wasn't phased in the least. The Aussie became his younger brother and his best pal, and it even gave him some gas in his tank to have a younger, more energetic pup in his life.

But in the past year, Dee had really begun to show his age. Although greyhounds are typically known as lazy dogs (despite their racing pedigree), Dee was almost never awake, and even if he was, he would almost always be lying down. The last time I went over to my brother's house, I noticed how much trouble Dee was having getting up and lying back down. He was no longer the enthusiastic door greeter that he had once been either, as though he could no longer be troubled to expend the energy required to walk to the front door and give me his usual doggy kisses. I even mentioned to my hubby after visiting my brother a few weeks ago that I was worried about Dee, and the fact that he was perhaps not much longer among us.

And then last night, I got an e-mail from my brother.

Dee is gone. He was put down on Friday night. He was 12 years old.

I didn't realize how much I had grown to love this dog until I read and re-read my brother's email a few times, tears rolling down my face. Even now as I write this, I am still getting choked up. Obviously, I'm upset for my brother, who is hurting at the loss of his faithful companion. But I'm also upset for me, and for the fact that I won't get to see sweet Dee again. If you are a true dog lover, this is a dog that cannot but touch your heart when you meet him. It's those eyes. Even as he grew older and more frail, those eyes were still young, full of life and unconditional love.

When my nephew was about 4 years old, he looked at my brother and said, "Uncle B, Dee is the perfect height for a hug." Then he wrapped his arms around Dee and gave him a big squeeze, while the dog just stood there, perfectly calm and quiet, and let this silly little boy manhandle him a little. This is the image of Dee that I will forever have in my mind.

To a damn good dog...

I'll miss you, Dee. And so will the Beast.