He came to us at the age of 4. We were his 2nd home. He needed to loose a ton of weight and he really had no idea how to cuddle. All he wanted to do was chase after a tennis ball. We fed him properly and threw tennis balls non-stop. Sadie and him played chase around the house and in our huge backyard all day. And we loved on him lots. The weight came flying off of him and before we knew it, he loved having his belly rubbed - a position he had been totally uncomfortable with when we brought him home. He truly became another dog, one that would bring us years of joy.
Dodger, though a Golden Retriever, DID NOT like his paws to get wet. I don't know if it was because he was a Southern California dog or what. We'd take the dogs to a dog park on the ocean (perks to living in San Diego!) - he wanted nothing to do with the waves. One time, as I was walking him along the beach. There was a rock wall on one side of us and the ocean on the other side. We got to a spot where the waves came all the way up and reached the rock wall and us. Instead of just walking through the water. This goofy guy CLIMBED the rocks! It was hilarious! When we moved back to the Pacific Northwest, he was like a cat out in the wet grass. Tiptoeing so his paws wouldn't get wet. We eventually moved into a house that had a concrete pad in the backyard. A saving grace for him in the long wet months. He wouldn't step foot onto the grass. Did all of his business from that concrete pad.
Ah man! This snow is getting my paws wet!!
He LOVED his rump scratched. That was his spot. And it didn't need to be just rubbed by a human. He would settle himself under a tree and rub and scratch and maneuver away, with pure pleasure in his eyes. Rub his rump and he'd be your friend for life.
The rump rub dance!
Food....that dog LOVED food. Even more then he loved getting his rump scratched. He would devour anything and everything. Near the end, that love of food got him in trouble more then once. He started to eat tissues. If a box of tissues were left any where in his eye sight, he'd literally pull out tissue by tissue and eat away. One Halloween he devoured a bag of candy left on the floor. He had never done anything like this before that. One Christmas he ate a mini plastic tape dispenser along with a few other oddities. We thought for sure that was the end of him. He had a digestive track made out of steel. His presence in the kitchen was felt. His head was always right there to catch anything before it hit the ground.
Dodger begging...he spent a large portion of his life in this position.
Peanut butter was on the top of his favorite list. Give him a jar of it and he'd lick it clean happily!
Dodger Dog was not the smartest dog in the world. Though in the dead of summer, you'd find him right in front of the fan. He didn't love small dogs. He didn't learn how to socialize with really any dog besides Sadie. He would wag his tail at a dog and then approach with a growl. He licked his paws and the carpet non-stop. It was utterly annoying. A habit we were never able to break him of. I often thought he'd cuddle just because he wanted to get love, not because it brought you joy. When his tank was full, he'd up and walk away to take a nap. He tolerated the kids. He had this funny game he'd play when they got to close he'd lick their face. The kids thought it was hilarious. I think he just wanted them to leave him alone, but he also didn't mind a cuddle or belly rub either from them.
I adored him. I loved the smell of his fur. The way he'd roll over so you could rub his tummy. The mornings when he'd greet me with a wet nose in my face. His deep desire to go on a walk or chase after a tennis ball no matter how old he was.
He loved sleeping on the couch or our bed. When he did it, he did it well. I always envied him crashed out on the couch. The last couple years, as his hips got worse, he couldn't get up on the bed and then finally, he couldn't get up on the couch. That was a sad, sad day.
Dodger and Sadie were best buddies. They wrestled daily, multiple times a day. They would chase each other. They more often then not at the end of the day were sleeping next to each other in mirror positions. It always amazed me how often I would find them next to each other in ideal sleeping arrangements. As the years went on, there was less chasing and less wrestling. But even until the last day, you knew they had a strong bond.
Sadie has been deaf for the past year now. She has actually taken to his passing better then I had expected. I think with her old age, she's slowed down so much and changed quite a bit with her hearing loss.
The kids knew nothing different then having two dogs in our family. They were like two other siblings to them. Though often they'd express dissatisfaction that they didn't know enough tricks or commands.
We knew as the years went on and he reached years beyond the average age of a Golden that we would lose him sooner then later. Around 14 his hips started to be a major issue for him. Going up and down the stairs to get outside was rough, but it never stopped him. He powered through it daily.
On the evening of November 18th (Adalyn's 6th birthday), I went to say good night to him around 10:30pm. Later then on a normal night. I instantly knew something was wrong. He was spinning his head side to side and was very disoriented. I couldn't get him to react to me or stand up. I woke Kenny up and he agreed something was wrong. Initially, I decided to lay with him to see if I could get him to settle down and sleep for the night. Quickly, I found out he wasn't changing his behavior.We decided it was a trip to the dog ER and that our gut was telling us this was it. He wouldn't be coming back home.
We woke both of the kids up from a deep sleep to let them say good-bye. Neither kid has any memory of that. They both were really out of it.
The kids have zero memory of us waking them up and bringing them out to say good-bye to him.
He was panting non-stop and couldn't hold his head still.
He was clearing disoriented and uncomfortable.
Kenny carried him to the car. I drove off in the dark of the night, talking sweetly to my beloved fur baby in the back seat. The Vet came and got him out of the back seat and whooshed him away behind closed doors. When she returned she told me he was having basically vertigo. He felt like his whole world was spinning and upside down. With out further tests they wouldn't know exactly why and would not know if or when he would return to normal. He was 15.5 years old. We knew there was a chance he had some issues with his kidney and that it could very well have been cancer.
The Vet offered up for us to take him home and wait it out. He couldn't walk and I knew that bringing him home would not be the right thing to do for him or us. I said it was time. This was the clear sign that we had asked for over the past year. We didn't want to do anything too soon and by no means wanted him to struggle and be in pain. It was time to let him go.
I asked to wait until after midnight. I didn't want him to pass on Adalyn's birthday. At 12:30am, after sitting with him for a half of an hour, cuddling and talking to him, the Vet came in and administered the medicine. He went so quickly and peacefully. One second he was there panting away, disoriented and uncomfortable. The next he was laying quietly at ease. My body felt heavy and it was hard to stand up and leave him behind.
We talk a lot about Dodger Dog in our house. The kids have mourned him. They wrote him letters and we burned them, sending them up to heaven for him to read. We cried for days. I still cry some days. We laugh and remember all of his funny antics. Just yesterday, Shane dropped a whole waffle on the floor. We joked that it would have landed right on Dodger's head if he was here still.
Shane wrote a letter to Dodger. When he asked how could we get it to him, we said we could burn it and the ashes would go up to heaven to him.
Dodger Dog will always hold a special place in our hearts. A place that brings us smiles and fond memories.
Rest in peace, Dodger Dog. We look forward to throwing you tennis balls some day in heaven.