Wednesday, July 20, 2016

For The Love Of Dog

Awhile I received the terrible news that one of the dogs I walked died unexpectedly over the weekend. Bentley was a healthy, 4 year old King Charles Cavalier and one of the most lovable dogs I have ever known. I don't know the full details of the accident, but frankly knowing them doesn't bring him back. Nothing will and it breaks my heart.

He was one of my first clients I had, having nearly walked him for 2 years come this August. He was there when I started, when I didn't really know what I was doing, but he learned to trust me as I kept showing up. He quickly became my little buddy, my friend, and my favorite of my dogs.

When I came in in the morning he'd stay curled up on his bed but wag his tail so hard he'd flick himself in the eye. Some days he didn't want to get out of bed, but if I laid down on my back he would rush over and put his head over my face and whimper and lick me until I got up. He had his own personality and quirks and opinions that I learned like that.

I walked him twice a day, once in the morning, and then on the evening. In the morning he had the choice to go right, which lead us to the dog park, or left, which lead us to wander around the neighboring blocks a bit. He always picked one or the other and knew which route he had picked that morning.

In the evening he got supper and then wanted to just sit a few minutes before we went out. Some days I had to coax him to get going, other days he was ready to go and bugged me to get going. Walking him always cheered me up and often I stayed with him longer than the 30 minute window to play some more with him.

He loved playing ball in the house, play barking, but letting me know he wasn't really mad. At the dog park he was really awkward around other dogs when we first started going. He'd look at them, look at me, look at them, look at me. Eventually he found that chasing other dogs was fun, if socially confusing when too many dogs wanted to play. His favorite game there was to play chase the ball. This is a lot like fetch, but instead of bringing the ball back to me, Bentley would just make sure it stopped and run back to me, looking as proud as could be.

My heart goes out to his owners, he was like a son to them. He was such a sweet dog and they managed to give him so much without spoiling him. They welcomed me into their home like few other clients have done. Most people I meet once or not at all, I come in to do my job and leave. His family made me feel so welcomed in their home, it made up for all the crappy things that come up in this job. It's not all puppies and rainbows, but having someone leave you some coffee in the morning can really help your day turn around. Knowing that it's okay to sit on their couch when your feet hurt, or that they trust you will take the very best care of their dog, really helped me stay sane.

The news of Bentley passing devastated me and I know they are grieving. He was such a great dog and so friendly to all. He had some health issues they were concerned about but this was completely unexpected. I had long thought about how if I quit this job, how would I break it to Bentley? Would I get to say goodbye properly? Could I train the new person so he doesn't protest like when someone covers for me? Would his family invite me over to have supper with them and surprise him?

This is all for a dog. All these tears, all this crippling sadness. I guess you can't judge what will really hit you or what really affects people. A lot of feelings were invested in this animal because he was special and showed that he cared that I walked him. I care for all my dog clients, but some only tolerate me, some are problem children, some like me but love their family more, some love everyone, some have clients who treat it like a very automated service. Bentley made it special and was like my dog away from home. I will miss him greatly and just wanted to share how awesome a dog he was with you here.