Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Companion
This post will be hard to write. On Thursday, April 13, 2017, I left our house to return to El Paso to visit Linda who was still hospitalized. I left the gate closed, but the doggy-door open so that our dogs could go outside and provide some cooling air in the house while I was gone.
I came home Friday evening to check on them and my best buddy, and glued-to-me companion, Padfoot was missing.
Now, Padfoot has quite often gone walkabout. He climbs over the gate and disappears for a while. We usually find him bugging one of the neighbors, but he never stays gone long. We will either discover that he is missing and go find him or he will come home on his own. Well, Thursday was different. I left for 24 hours and I was unable to find him anywhere when I returned on Friday.
As I write this (Tuesday, April 18, 2017), it has been almost five days since his disappearance. At this point, I am quite sure that he is no longer alive. There are no water sources out here in the desert, and a dog his size (6lb Pomeranian) surely can’t go five days without water. Also, it’s breeding season for the rabbits. That means that the coyotes are out in large numbers preying on them. Sadly, Padfoot is just the right size to be targeted by them and is certainly slower than a rabbit. He’s also quite friendly and would likely walk right up to a coyote to say hello.
At this point, I have to accept the fact that my best boy, my beloved Padfoot, has crossed the rainbow bridge and is in Heaven.
Sirius Black “Padfoot” Douglas (??/??/2011? — 04/13/2017)
We don’t know when Padfoot was born. We adopted him as a stray in 2013. Our vet guessed him to be about two years old at the time. One of our friends knew that Linda and I really liked Pomeranians and saw a post on Facebook stating that this little black guy was available for adoption. We ran right out and picked him up. Since he was a stray, we had to register that with the county animal shelter in case his people came there looking for him. We had to wait 10 days before we could officially adopt him. When the time came and went, we made it official. We got him chipped and gave him the name of Sirius Black. For me, it was a pun. He was an all-black dog with the exception of a little white on his toes and a little white on his chest like he was wearing a tie. I said he was “Seriously Black.” So why call him “Padfoot?” You must not be a Harry Potter fan. Harry’s Uncle (Sirius Black) was able to transform himself into a rather large black dog. Because of this, his friends nicknamed him “Padfoot.”
It was quickly apparent that Padfoot had bonded with me. He was downright unfriendly to Linda for quite some time. He always wanted me to pet him. He was so quiet when we first got him that we had wondered if he had been de-barked by some previous owner. It turns out that he was just quiet at first. His voice was rather strange. When he would try to vocalize, it was a very airy, aspirated sound, which is one of the things that made us think he had been surgically altered. It actually took almost a week for him to bark. Once he did, we knew that he just had a strange way of vocalizing.
I quickly discovered that he was quite playful. We developed a game that I called “Kill Daddy,” in which I would attempt to grab (and hold closed) his snout and he would try to prevent me from doing so.
I trained him not to bite any harder than was needed to hold on to my hand or fingers, but encouraged him to make ferocious (for a 5-lb tiny little dog) sounds as though he was seriously considering murder. It bothered Linda for a while since she didn’t realize it was just a game. She eventually realized that it was playing when she saw Padfoot initiate the game on several occasions.
If I wasn’t around or I wasn’t in the mood to play with him, he’d even entertain himself. He would go grab his squeaky ball and toss it for himself!
He would do that with his dry kibble, too. If you weren’t paying him enough attention, he would bring a mouthful of food over right next to you and crunch on it loudly until you paid attention. I tell you, he was a character!
That little booger just loved to escape! Every time we would open the gate in our back yard, if we weren’t careful, that little turd would squirt out and go running down the street, daring us to chase him. We were quite worried about it for a while since he would keep running away from us! Then, I figured out how to capture him. I would use his friendliness to bring him back. I’d stoop down to the ground, clap my hands and call him an in happy, playful voice. He would stop, turn around and then run back to me. This just further increased our bond. Whenever I’d leave for work, he would stand up against the fence with the most pitiful look in his eyes, as though I was going away forever.
He, like most dogs, liked to beg for food. However, he was an absolute master at it. He was nearly impossible to refuse. Basically, if it wasn’t something known to be bad for dogs, he would get a bite. Every time. Of course, we don’t mind sharing with our dogs. They get so little actual “people food” that it represents a very, very small fraction of their diet. The rest of the time, they eat regular dog kibble.
When we first got him, he wasn’t very loving toward Linda. However, once he realized that she was home all day while I was at work and that she often had tasty morsels, that behavior changed. He warmed up to her and started taking turns being her lap boy, and then mine. By the looks he was giving the one that didn’t have the dog on their lap, he was clearly trying to make them jealous. It often worked. We called that “giving neeners.”
That little stinker got whatever it was that he wanted. If he wanted petting, he got petting. If he wanted your sammich, it didn’t matter how much you said no. You lose. If he wanted your jelly beans…
Yes, this dog liked jelly beans. I keep a supply of Jelly Belly clones around and he really liked the popcorn and vanilla ones. So, I’d crush the jelly bean and give it to him. I make no secret of the fact that I was a total sucker for that dog and his antics.
That little dog had the most irresistible face. If you told him “no,” he would have this look like you had just beaten him with a stick or something. He knew exactly how to pull our strings and made full advantage of it.
Padfoot was extremely friendly. Although we had trained him not to do it to us, he just loved to jump into peoples’ laps and give them kisses. No matter who you were, you were gonna get kissed. When he would go walkabout, our neighbors would often bring him home. Of course, what they didn’t know was that he really looked forward to it. He could give them kisses and get a car ride at the same time!
When Linda and I would take him for a ride in the car and we had food, he would place his chin on your shoulder, begging for a bite. What I never could understand is how a 6-lb dog could seemingly exert 2-3 metric tons of force on your shoulder with that chin. It just made no sense to me.
When I was driving, he was not allowed in my lap, so even without food, I would get the “chin of death” on my shoulder, as well.
He was always a good sport. I could put him in my lap and mug up his face in funny poses. He would just sit there, enjoying all the attention. Often, he would hold the pose long enough for me to get out the camera. Some of my favorite pics of him are in those poses.
He was always excited to see me. When I would come in, he would jump up on my lap and “hold me down.” Much like the “chin of death,” he was able to exert metric tons of dead weight on my lap when he wanted his cuddle time.
He would often fall asleep on my lap or in my arms and I could snap pics of him in close-up. He was such a cute little dog. I just loved him to pieces!
When it became clear to me that he was lost, I was lost. I knew that I was very, very attached to this little dog. I knew that one day, I would have to say good-bye. I never fathomed that it would be this soon. I always figured that I would have my cuddly little dog until he was too old to walk anymore, and I would have to pick him up to put him in my lap.
I always figured that I’d have to feed him softened food because his teeth had fallen out. I figured I’d have to tone down the game of “kill” to be suitable for a geriatric Padfoot.
This little dog owned a piece of my heart. When he left, it ripped a hole in my soul. I cried. A lot. And loud. I looked up into the starlit sky and said, “Padfoot, daddy misses you. I’m sorry that I wasn’t here to find you and protect you. Please know, my dearest little dog, that daddy loves you forever. No matter where you are. I will miss you until my dying day and then we will be reunited in Heaven with all those I love.”
Padfoot, always know that mommy and daddy love you, forever. Wherever you are.