Our dog died about two weeks ago.
I never thought I would be so sad about a dog! I mean, I knew I would be sad… I just didn’t think I would be this sad. I feel like we lost a member of our family. And, we did. Our tiny 3 person, 2 dog, 1 room mate situation has shrunk by 1 dog (and soon, by one room mate as well, Scott is moving out 🙁 ) No more deep rumbling barks at the doorbell, no more furry body slowly taking over the bed at night, no one begging at the counter for a piece of whatever you’re making for lunch.
Conner was the best dog I’ve ever personally known. He loved car rides and would sit like a human in the front seat, sitting way back over his tail, his head almost hitting the ceiling of my car. He didn’t even have to stick his head out the window, he was really just glad to be a part of whatever was happening.
He basically spoke English, and understood a lot of what was said to him. He knew when it was time to play and when it was time to be serious. He knew a lot of commands and tricks, and understood the phrase “Fuck off”. Like, he could tell if you meant “get off the bed”, “stop begging”, or “quit harassing the food delivery guy”, just with that one phrase. Ha! He was an intuitive guy, Conner was.
Conner would howl whenever he heard a siren. Especially if he thought we didn’t notice it. Anytime he heard a firetruck or the police go by, Conner would howl along with it until he was sure we were all paying attention. I had never seen a dog do that before I met Conner, and haven’t seen any do it since, either.
When we brought Penny home, Conner immediately treated her like his own puppy.
When she was really small, he would lay down and let her crawl all over him. She would tug his ears, and bite his face, and swat with her paws. He just laid there, and let her be a puppy. When she got big enough, he taught her how to play, carefully at first and then more intensely as she got older. He taught her how to run. He didn’t mind when she drank out of the same water bowl as him, at the same time as him. She wanted to be just exactly like him. They kept each other company when we would leave for school or training. When we took them to the baseball field across the street, Penny would stay within 10 feet of Conner all the time. She adored him. Penny has never been left alone in the house for very long, really, because she always had Conner here to hang out with. He taught her everything he knew, except how to howl at passing police sirens. He kept that gem to himself.
My favorite Conner story happened back in Florida, though.
We used to take Conner lots of places. He rode around with Joe almost everywhere. Even when Joe bought a brand new, leather interior, jacked up, lifted Toyota Tundra, Conner rode in it. Joe put down a cover in the back seat and made Conner a harness to keep him from scratching everything up. Basically we could just attach his leash to a fastener in the back, and Conner would be free to move around the back seat, but not hop into the front.
While we lived in Florida, we met a lot of people because Joe had helped open a jiu jitsu gym. You know, a martial arts gym gets all kinds of characters. And 99 out of 100 times, they’re pretty good people, but every once in a while you get a real weirdo.
Eventually, we met a weirdo. This guy would hang around the gym, but he didn’t actually train. Sometimes he would stare at you while you were talking with a bizarre look on his face. Sometimes he would say things that were just a little off, almost like he was drunk. It was the type of stuff that’s not too big of a deal but things that might make you raise your eyebrows. He just gave off a bad vibe- I don’t know, he’s just one of those people you meet every once in a while that you wouldn’t leave your kids with, you know what I mean? The kind of person that makes the hair on your neck stand up.
So one day Joe and I stopped at the gym. It was off hours I think, I think we just stopped by to fix something, I can’t remember. Anyway, while we were there, the weird guy came in, as Joe and I were getting ready to leave. I think we made some small talk with him, but weren’t staying very long. We were trying to get him to leave so we could lock the place up. We had left Conner in the truck, harnessed into the backseat. The truck was running I think, and the windows were down.
We’re talking to the guy, and the next thing I know, Conner is outside the gym door, trying to get in.
Joe said “What the hell?! Conner! What are you doing in here?”
Conner had chewed through his leash, which he had never done before, and jumped out the window of Joe’s truck, something else he had never done before, and was hanging out outside the gym, looking for a way in.
He came around and looked at Joe like, Here I am!
Joe and I both kinda stared open mouthed for a second, wondering what the hell Conner was doing out of the truck, how he had gotten out, and why his leash appeared to have been chewed through. Conner had never done anything like that, it really took us by surprise.
He sat right next to Joe and looked at the creepy guy like, “Hey buddy, just want you to know there won’t be any funny business while I’m here.”
That’s when Joe figured out that Conner broke out of the truck because we were alone in a building with a guy that just wasn’t right. He had come to make sure we were safe.
Of course we left that day without any incident happening, and Conner sat in the back after that with no problems ever again.
I don’t know how dogs know, but they know. Conner knew that guy was bad news and wasn’t about to let anyone in his family get in any bad situations. He chewed through his leash and jumped out the window just in case.
I wish Conner were here now to give some steak to, just for remembering that story. What a great dog he was.
We had him cremated, and yesterday I picked up his ashes. They were in a nice wooden box with carvings on it. The sweater he wore in his old age was folded on top of it, and inside his sweater was a plaster molding of his paw print the cremation company had made.
I saw that and sat in my car and just cried for a while. Something about that paw print and the sweater just broke my heart all over again. Joe got home and cried some more. Watching Joe go through this hasn’t been easy. Conner was his dog, not mine, and they had half a lifetime of memories together before either of them even met me.
Penny is doing okay. Like I said, she’s never been left alone for so long before. She doesn’t act like a puppy as much anymore. She’s the dog of the house now.
It sure is different around here, without Conner around. But the good memories help ease the heartache. We have tons of them, thankfully. Rest easy, Conner-Bo-Bonner! And hold down the fort until we get home. ♥