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Monday, April 5, 2010

A dog of your lifetime?

April 6: This beautiful tribute to Bounder was written by Karen Rheinberger from Ohio.


      I read the recent post about special dogs or dogs of a lifetime. I had to respond. Although I love each of my dogs and each of them are special to me, my "dog of a lifetime" was Bounder (UCD Einzigers Bound ToBeMy Hero CD CGC Delta Society Therapy Dog).
      Bounder was the first rottweiler puppy I raised, I had adopted an older rottie a year earlier. Most people said I was nuts adding a 2nd male rottie to my house. I didn't breed him, but was present at his birth and I went to played with the puppies every weekend until he was 7+ weeks old and came to live with me.
      Bounder was my constant shadow - he loved to go and do... it didn't matter what I asked him to do, from obedience to flyball to agility to tracking to pet therapy, he was always willing to try it and normally excelled at it. Bounder wasn't raised with children, but I never worried about him - he walked in the Dayton Childrens Parade every year, dressed as Santa. He would often have 5 or 6 kids hugging him at the same time - he just stood there and loved it.
      One of my favorite memories with him involves a visit with a WWI veteran. It was "veteran appreciation day" so the Pet Therapy group went out to the local VA hospital to accompany active duty Air Force personal visiting the veterans. It was Bounder's first official visit as a therapy dog - he was dressed as "bob the builder" with a specially made green and white checkered flannel shirt and tool belt. There was a nurse that just fell for my dog - she wanted all the elderly patients to see the dog. This one man was very old and fragile and bedridden - the nurse wanted Bounder to come up on the bed so the man with very bad eyesight could see the dog. I was so worried - Bounder was about 110 lbs, young, and energetic. I put my arm out and asked Bounder to put his feet on my arm - he very gently shifted all his weight to his back legs, put his front legs over my arm and placed them carefully and gently onto the bed next to this man. He then leaned in and put his head under this man's hand so all the man had to do was move his fingers to scratch the dog. I can still see the smile on the man's face...
      Bounder had a spine injury when he was 4 years old and had to retire from all training - but he was still my constant shadow at home...

I often say that Bounder "grabbed my heart at birth and never let go". It's been 3 years and 4 months since his untimely death from bloat at 8 1/2 years old. This is the first time I have even tried to write about Bounder - and I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes. I still miss him everyday. I have 4 dogs at home right now (including Bob Fulcher's Nadina) and they each have a place in my heart - but there will only ever be one Bounder for me.

Thank you for letting me share my special boy with you.
Karen Rheinberger


April 5:
Greg wrote to John: "Thanks for all you and Jola's help and attention during these tough times. I know that you, more than anybody, can appreciate the relationship between a dog and handler along with the life they have to live together in order to be successful. I've heard before an old dog man say that "everyone deserves one good dog in their lifetime." Well, I've had mine. If the rest turn out to be anything like her, I'll be lucky."

Coincidentally, it was exactly five years ago today when I had to say good bye to my dog of a lifetime. I still cannot talk about Kuba without crying, and cannot bring myself to write his obituary as it hurts too much. I think of him often and miss him tremendously. I miss the bond and connection  that we shared, miss his eyes following me all the time. He took my breath away. Kuba (FC Zuzelek's Globetrotter) came from my first litter; I raised him and we spent 13.5 years together. I watched him change through the seasons of life, and finally he succumbed to old age and disease. How I wish dogs lived longer.

Above - Kuba in his prime, below - near the end. He loved to snooze in the laundry basket.

So who is your dog of a lifetime and why? Write in comments or send me an e-mail.


Maribeth said...

My first German wire-haired dackel, Shubi was my dog of a lifetime, the dog of my heart. She was 3 months old when she discovered her first bunny nest. After that I watched her carefully as she had quite a nose.
Not only that, but she was the worlds sweetest and gentlest dog. My friend came with her newborn baby and she lay him down on a blanket on the floor in my house. Shubi lay down next to the baby and protected him.
Until her last day, she was my shadow, my love and the reason I came to love the wires so much.
Shubi was one of a kind.

Jolanta Jeanneney said...

Thank you for sharing your memories about Shubi. What a wonderful dog.

Anonymous said...

As I read these stories, they all bring tears to my eyes; first because I am so touched, since I know how it feels to love a dog that much and second to realize how lucky I am that my “dog of a lifetime” is still with me. My Auggie means the world to me and since he has come into my life has taken me on such a wonderful journey with him. He was supposed to be “a pet”, but he is so much more. He has taken me to field trials, tracking, earthdog, obedience, hunt tests, rally and dog shows and in looking back, I’m not sure who trained whom! These past seven years with him have been such a wonderful experience and I look forward and hope for many more. When he looks at me with those soulful eyes, I just melt. Everyday when I come home, I can’t wait to see him. Last week I had an awful migraine headache; Auggie usually sleeps at the foot of the bed (near the door as a watchdog), but he insisted on sleeping next to me and before he settled in, he came over and licked my forehead. I believe he knows how I feel. He watches me (provided there are no rabbits around) and waits for me to give him direction or take him somewhere fun. No matter how bad of a day I may have – he always makes it better when I come home, as he is so excited to see me. Yes, I love Dixie, Csak and Fritz – but my heart belongs to Auggie. There is a place there that is all his and it always will be.
When the day comes and he leaves me, he’ll take a piece of my heart with him. And I know my life will never be the same.

Sherry Ruggieri

Susan Langworthy said...

Jolanta - It was a privilege to meet Kuba, and it's hard to believe it's been 5 years since his passing. I remember you telling me how special he was to you. I will give my Hobbit an extra snuggle in Kuba's memory.

(I enjoyed reading also Clary and Bounder too. I know that the time will come for Tippi, my sweet 15 year old Karelian. We are so privileged to have our wonderful dogs).