Tuesday, March 9, 2010

So Long Dusty

Today is a very sad day at my house. Not just because I'm not there (I'm currently in New Mexico for the week) but because we had to make a very hard decision yesterday. We made that decision yesterday and today the deed got done.

We had to put our dog Dusty down today. She was 12 1/2 years old. I always referred to her as a yellow lab but she was a mutt in every sense of the word.

I got Dusty in October of 1997. I had recently moved from Los Angeles back to Arlington, TX. I was 27 years old, had just purchased my first home and after about 5 months I realized, that house was lonely.

So, pretty much in the same weekend I changed that. I bought Dusty, I moved my sister from LA to Arlington and I met Stephen through the Big Brothers program.

Pretty big weekend in my life. All 3 events changed the course of my life for the better.

When I brought Dusty home, it took me about 2 minutes to realize she was infested with flea's. 6 weeks old and it just killed me to see her like that. They were all over the place. A flea bag from the beginning.

What I didn't know is that was just the first of a whole lot of obstacles for Dusty.

Dusty was a good puppy from the start when I was around. When I wasn't, issues popped up. All the typical puppy things like chewing bottoms of furniture, pant legs, etc. As I had to travel for work my buddy Dennis would watch her. That's when we learned Dusty didn't like captivity. She pretty much dug a mini-Grand Canyon in his backyard. We also learned about Dusty's fascination with cats.

Man did she love to chase down cats. She started with Dennis' wife's cat and to this day she still did it. She spent most of last night chasing Emma the Cat around the bedroom. She didn't do anything once she caught them but never did a cat pass her that wasn't promptly chased into a corner.

The older Dusty got the more these "quirks" would show up. She hated the broom and the vacuum cleaner.

But that was all little stuff until the spring of 1999 when the tornado hit downtown Ft. Worth and South Arlington. (It might have been 2000, I'm not sure). Everything changed then. Her and I were in the bath tub with a mattress over our head as the tornado came within 2 miles of the house.

After that, the slightest indication of a storm sent her into a tizzy. She just didn't know what to do with herself after that. She tore through sheetrock, carpets, kennel after kennel. She did so much of that it made it to where she basically broke everyone of her teeth.

That's also when I had to stop leaving her outside when I left because no matter what I did, she would not stay in the backyard.

In the spring of 2001 I started feeling bad for her and thought she needed a buddy, so we got Duke. A full blooded yellow lab. That just seemed to make her more miserable. Duke loves Dusty and can't stand to be away from her. Dusty longs for the day that Duke won't be there eating her food or stealing her place in the dog bed.

Dusty has always been a lover of everything female. It started with my sister when she lived with me for a bit, Dusty would protect Sue no matter what. If I ever got mad at Sue, Dusty (my dog) would let me know that wasn't cool.

When she escaped she would always go to my neighbor's house - Janice and Connie.

When Angela came on the scene in 2005 I lost Dusty forever. She was Angela's dog. You couldn't even play wrestle with Angela without Dusty getting mad. She would stay under the bed until Angela would wake up and then they'd come out of the room together. Every single morning.

When Angela went to bed, so did Dusty.

When the boys showed up last June, Dusty loved them like a mother. She always took inventory and made sure all 3 were where she could find them.

She went with Angela to check on them at night and make sure everything was ok.

We had learned to deal with Dusty's quirks. We have sedatives for storms, we know not to grab for her when she's scared. Basically the dog trained us how to act around her.

We were pretty good at it. There have been times over the past few years when I thought it was time but we were always able to work through it.

That ended yesterday when during a small storm, James pulled Dusty's tail. Dusty turned around and bit him in the head. James is fine but the boys are only 8 months old. They aren't going to learn how to deal with Dusty's quirks any time soon and storm season isn't even here yet.

Last night was a rough one on Angela and I as we realized we only had 1 decision to make. We tried to think of alternatives but we just kept coming back to the fact that Dusty was old and certifiably crazy. She hasn't been a happy dog in a really long time.

I blame the tornado of 1999. Of course it was probably just living with me but it's easier to blame Mother Nature.

I wish I was home to hug my dog before she had to go but the fact is, nobody is comfortable with her around the babies anymore. More than that, I wish I was home just to hug Angela and let her know it was time. We are doing what is right.

The fact is Dusty was never going to be the dog the boys remember growing up with.

That's my memory. She was the dog I grew up with. My first dog as an adult in my first house with my first real connection (Stephen) and my first real love (Angela).

Hopefully Dog Heaven is filled with nothing but cats to stalk and Thunderstorms are too far down to hear or see. Oh and no younger dog will try to eat your food every day.