I Can’t Keep Him Anymore

You and I will meet again, When we’re least expecting it, One day in some far off place, I will recognize your face, I won’t say goodbye my friend, For you and I will meet again.

Tom Petty
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An open letter to my dog’s new caretaker.  Not every relationship is forever.

I’d like to introduce you to my dog Darwin.  He’s a great dog.  I just can’t keep him here.  I know you’ll do a better job of caring for him, and I know he’ll be happy with you. I really don’t want to say goodbye to him, but I guess I must.  As I said, I can’t keep him here.

Before you take him, there are a few things I’d like you to know about my best friend.  I’ll never meet you before you take him, so I thought I’d write them out for you.  Please pay attention, these are important:

1) Never, ever, EVER leave him unleashed near any amount of water.  That goes for anything from the size of Lake Erie to that rut in the middle of your lawn that sometimes fills with water when it rains.  He will wallow in it like a pig.

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Actually, scratch what I just wrote.  Some of my favorites memories of Darwin are of him wallowing in the mud, with a silly smile on his face, tail wagging.  Enjoy those times, too.  If you can’t find the humor in those moments, you don’t deserve my dog.

2) Darwin’s not as fast as he used to be.  He doesn’t get up to greet me anymore when I come home from work.  He still wags his tail when he sees me, but he has an embarrassed look on his face.  One that says, “I love you, Lady, but I’m afraid I might need some help getting up to greet you properly”.  Don’t make him get up…if he’s comfortable, and you make him get up to greet you, you don’t deserve him.  I’d ask for him back, but as I said, I can’t keep him here.

3)  Darwin has a sneaky sense of smell (it’s one of the few senses that haven’t failed him).  He can’t hear me unless I’m close to him, but damn!  That dog can smell a pill in an entire jar of peanut butter.  Mercifully, you won’t have the same problems with needing to give him pills.  But I’m sure he’d still love the peanut butter.

4) Affection.  Darwin is part Lab, part Care Bear.  Make sure you let him know you love him.  His favorite spot is behind his left ear, but recently he loves having his sides scratched.  He’s too old to get at them himself – his legs are so arthritic now, he can only give those areas a perfunctory swipe before he gives up.  Help the old guy out won’t you?

Darwin and Pirate

5) Let him know I love him.  Tell him every day that I didn’t want to give him up.  That I fought tooth and nail for him.  That I fought long after I should have stopped.  Because he’s ready to go with you now.  I can see that.  Like I said, I can’t keep him here.  It isn’t right for me to keep him here.  I know he’ll be fine with you, but it’s so scary for me to watch him cross that bridge, knowing it only goes in one direction.  Just let him know that I’ll be there for him, and that he’s still my boy.

Take care of him.  Tell him I love him.  But most importantly, tell him I’ll be coming for him when I can’t stay here anymore either.  You may have to care for him until I join him, but he’s always going to be my dog.

Darwin's last pic.

I lost my best friend, Darwin, in 2007, after ten years with him.  He was a rescue, roughly 1.5 years old when I adopted him, and I cherished every moment with him, even when marriage, babies and work made those moments not quite as frequent as they used to be.  It’s been almost ten years since I lost him, and I still am amazed at how training a client’s Lab, who happens to look a bit like Darwin, will make me teary-eyed, or how hearing the song “Atomic Dog”, which all my friends dubbed “his” song, will make me long for a hike with D-Dog.  But above all, I’m grateful to have had him in my life.  

darwin

Keep calm and pilot on

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

3 Options for the Traveling Pet Parent

From time to time, Darwin Dogs loves the chance to post articles written by third parties.  One chance came a few weeks ago when Paige Johnson contacted us, asking about submitting an article for us.  As we have a big travel weekend coming up for Labor Day, here are some thoughts for those of us who prefer to travel with a companion.  Interested in submitting an article to be published?  Submit your ideas to kerry.stack@darwindogs.org.

Boots and Bee Photography - by Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – by Brittany Graham

Owning a pet has been shown to enrich lives, reducing the risk of disease and lengthening the lifespan of their owners. Having a loving animal to come home to can make a world of difference in your daily life. Unfortunately, our furry friends can make it difficult to travel. However, being a pet parent shouldn’t stop you from going on vacation. Here are a few options you have for making your vacation stress free for both you and your pet.

Freelance Pet Sitters

If you would rather your dog stay in the comfort of their own home, you might consider hiring a freelance pet sitter. Rover.com is a great place for seeking an at-home sitter for your pet. The site can put you in touch with someone to provide your pet an overnight stay, either in your home or the sitter’s, daily check-ins, and even walking. Rates vary depending on the individual, and the site customizes the results based on the sitter’s proximity to your home.

Boarding Facilities

Pet boarding facilities have been spreading at a rapid pace as our lives become busier and busier. These facilities vary widely in their prices and practices and should be researched thoroughly before you entrust one with your pet.

Good boarding facilities will allow a walkthrough of the facilities. You should check for cleanliness and daily routines within the facility to ensure your pet will not be trapped in a small space for the duration of your trip. There should be playtime, interaction with the staff and other dogs, access to an outside play space. Reading the reviews of a boarding facility is also a great idea to ensure your pet will be well cared for.

Take Them with You

A dog with all its vaccines and a microchip can travel almost anywhere. Of course, this means you need to plan your trips far in advance but being able to take your dog with you makes it all worth it. If your pet is going to be around water, double check that any pool chemicals and other cleaning supplies are properly stored so that your curious pet can’t nose his way into trouble.

If your dog is too big to fly in the airplane cabin with you, permitting them to fly in the cargo hold is not an acceptable option. Pets die every year as a result of airline negligence. Though some flights boast pet-friendly options, this does not always guarantee your pet’s safety. For large dogs, it is safer to stick to locations within driving distance.

Though owning a pet can restrict your freedom to travel, there is always a way to make things work. Regardless of what you opt to do, it is always possible for both you and your pet to enjoy your vacation.

Paige Johnson is a self-described fitness “nerd.” She possesses a love for strength training. In addition to weight-lifting, she is a yoga enthusiast, avid cyclist, and loves exploring hiking trails with her dogs. She enjoys writing about health and fitness for LearnFit.org.

Image via Pixabay by rafibh