Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Big Things in Little Packages

Lil' Rick was the dog I didn't really want.

I wanted a BIG dog. A Great Dane or a Bullmastiff. Something that weighed as much as a human, could do some significant damage to an intruder and had a heart and spirit as big as their body.

Instead, we got a Corgi.

During the normal course of a work day we were usually offered Corgis' several times. See, a coworkers wife showed dogs. Think the Thanksgiving Day Westminster Dog Show. The people who trot the fancy dogs around the ring. That was what she did- she trained, groomed and showed fancy pedigreed dogs as a profession. (Yeah, a little crazy, I know.) Anyway, once these fancy dogs won enough blue ribbons to be dubbed 'champions' and then went on to breed enough future champions, they were often abandonded by their true owners.

Hence, our possession of Lil' Rick. Champion of Corgi's with a google-able name, daddy to many more little champion Corgi's, and master of none of the tricks normal people expect your dog to preform whe the phrase 'show dog' is uttered.

When we finally broke down and agreed to a visit to meet the dog selected for us. I was by no means enchanted with him.

He was released from the dog pens with a fury. He ran into the room with a streak of orange fur. He jumped on furniture. He jumped on people. I backed away and sat down in a chair. He spied me and ran full speed in my direction to cover me in Corgi kisses. But he didn't stop soon enough. He launched himself into the air and only stopped due to a nose to nose collision. The tip of his snout to the bridge of my nose. Oh-my-God did it hurt.

I didn't want to take him, but Matt was taken with him. One week later we brought home our 5 year old puppy. We weren't always the best parents.

Over the last two years, Rick started having old age issues. Cateracts, bad teeth, arthritis, hearing loss. Last Christmas he started coughing. Several hundred dollars in vet visits couldn't bring a diagnosis. Allergies? The medicine didn't work. Fungal infection? The antibiotics didn't help. Cancer? What was the point of more tests to tell us something we couldn't do anything about.

Over the last few months he'd taken to coughing under our bed at 2am. We started putting him in the laundry room overnight. We always felt horrible about it, but sleep in this house is a fleeting, precious thing.

Last night was Lil' Rick's final night with us. I'm glad he spent it under our bed. Today when Matt got home from work, Rick was cold. The wag of his happy old-man body was gone.

13 years old. 91 in dog years. That's a pretty good run. I hope the last 8 were his favorite.

We'll miss you Lil' Rick.

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