Remembering an old dog

After the little episode with our new cat Tessie, I found myself thinking back to all the pets to which we have belonged.

My most devoted sovereign was the late Karl Von Schwartz. I purchased him during the Gulf War and had considered naming him Schwarzkopf, after the General. My daughters thought he should be named Schwarzenegger, after The Terminator. We compromised.

All of us remember the first day he was at our house and the hubby was miffed at me. “We don’t need another dog!” he’d huffed. “Freebea” was our “dee-oh’-gee,” a mixed breed female that the kids and I had brought home 5 years earlier in somewhat the same fashion. “Isn’t she cute, can’t we keep her?” That was the similarity; the difference was that Freebea was free and Karl had a price tag. Maybe I was especially persuasive or maybe he just couldn’t resist the cute little black and brown ball of fuzzy bear fur? Okay, he gave in.

The coddled runt of the litter, Karl was ‘not for sale’ said the breeder. The entire tail was gone from a docking mishap so he could never be best of show. I didn’t want a show dog! “Why not one of the other puppies?” she encouraged. I did not acquiesce, she caved, and the little guy came home.

I am sure that he must have puddled on the floor and chewed on the daughter’s underwear. Those things were eclipsed by all the good times that we shared with the small one who grew to be a gentle giant.

We first acknowledged his astounding growth when our eldest daughter was playing fetch with both dogs. They jumped in unison, hit heads and Freebea was knocked out cold. We were all more careful after that.

Rotty’s have a bad reputation, but Karl only chased squirrels. Freebea, a sweet mutt, may have influenced his behavior as she mothered him during his formative “puppy” years. Even as an adult he deferred to her in new situations. (We lost Freebea to a sudden onset of doggy dementia. I hope that head bonking wasn’t a prelude.)

I thought Karl would be a ferocious Guard Dog. Heck, he wasn’t even a Watch Dog. My brother and his wife arrived for a visit one Friday night after we were all put to bed. They opened the unlocked door, crept down the hallway where Karl lay asleep by the bedroom door. The monster opened his eyes, groaned, then rolled over so as not to be bothered

Usually he slept on the floor by my side of the bed. I was never sure whom to hit with the pillow when snoring disturbed my beauty sleep. Sometimes it was stereo: the hubby sawing wood on one side and Karl on the other.

I spent a few weeks away for a new grand baby. The hubby said that every morning, after a potty break, Karl would race back to the bedroom to see if I was in bed. When I returned home he held me to the floor with his front paws and licked my face.

He never adjusted to the fake wood floor we installed. Once he came running through the kitchen to greet me, lost his grip and slid sideways into the kitchen table, which hit the wall and made a sizeable hole. Oooops.

Saying “Walk” was equivalent to ringing Pavlov’s bell. It wasn’t long before spelling 'walk' put him on alert as well. He trained on a short leash, which evolved to being held by his mouth. All the people on our walking route knew him as the rotty that walked himself. One morning we passed a neighbor sitting on the curb and Karl walked over and sat on his lap.

He also processed loud and aromatic esters. (He farted!) Most dogs will treat their owners to the occasional misdeed. Karl, on the other hand, made it his mission in life to be impertinent at every opportunity. When he was small, he cozied up to the freestanding fireplace and sent echoes up the metal chimney. As he grew older, he found more open spaces surrounded by astonished faces. The last year of his life he walked into our family room to mingle with members of our church home group. Our leader brought the meeting to a close by bowing his head for prayer, but it was Karl that brought us all to our knees. We think he “ripped” a sizeable hole in the ozone layer.

“No, he’s not growling at you!” Karl shared his “Rotty Rumble” when he approved of something – especially a nice rub. He loved his weekly bath and was ecstatic when I pulled out my blow dryer. I taught him how to say “Ma Ma.” He sounded like something from the Exorcist and the neighborhood kids always appreciated an impromptu performance. People intimidated by Karl’s size and tough guy walk soon realized that a temperate spirit dwelled within him.

I still cry when I think about taking him to our caring “doc” and having Karl look up at me with such trust as he went to his rest. That was the day I came home from work to find him in the exact same position as when I had left. His back legs would no longer push him up because of a neurological deficit that had been slowly depriving him of his mobility. He was twelve.

It is too easy to be sad when remembering those days that are gone. Instead, I should realize how blessed we have been by our wonderful companions and should thank God for his Hand in bringing each one into our lives.

I think all dogs go to Heaven.


Walker said…
Those Rotties look like little sweet bears when they are babies. Huge eyes! Loved your story. What a fun read.
Karmyn R said…
Oh - things I smile about:

Karl drool all over the side of the window when I drove him to the resevoir for walks!

Karl holding down my hubby's feet and giving them a bath the first time they met!

Karl remembering Paula after a not seeing her for almost 3 years!

Karl allowing my firstborn to take a ride on his back and never complaining about it.

Karl being afraid of a vacuum hose coming around the side of the house.

The "Lost" Karl video.

Great remembrances!!!
Pamela said…
oh..yea.. and when you came home from college and he kept harrassing you so you sent him to "his rug" and we were all suprised to hear his grumble.. that sounded just liked

...ohhhhh karrrrrmmmmynnnn"
Amanda said…
He totally said Karmyn !! We all heard it. Karmyn and I had to much fun making that Carl video. Maybe we should circulate a letter to all of our friends and family, asking if someone has it. I think it got borrowed and never returned.

I have fond memories of Karl, also. He was a loving, gentle dog who hated his paws touched. My friends and I would walk Karl up and down the docks at the river, hoping some cute boys would stop and talk to us about our big, beautiful dog. It worked ! A few times, anyway.

I miss all those darn animals. Karl, Freebea, Switz, Mow Mow. They all hold very special places in my heart. Even that ol' peeing Shadow. "Shadow, Shadow baby, close those green eyes......."
Julie said…
Awww! What a great story!! You basically described our Rottie, Hoss. He is 10 and he still acts like a pup. Loved your story!

(Found you through bloggingchicks!)
Anonymous said…
i am like,... so sad. he is beautiful. ivy
Pamela, What a wonderful dog your Karl must have been, I can tell that he stole your heart! This was such a loving, good, sad story..thanks for sharing it, I am a real sucker for most dogs..and I think they go to heaven too:)

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