Tuesday, August 23, 2016

~ The Life & Times Of Uncle John

Our 1st day together, Uncle John at 14 wks
For close to sixteen years my sidekick was a 15 lb. schnauzer.  The first time we met I knew he was supposed to be with me.  I was holding this 14 week old lil' fluff ball and the next thing I knew he got super squirmy and fell into a barrel of bunnies on display. 

I remember looking down on him among a herd o' rabbits thinking, you break him you buy him.  He wasn't broken, but his independent spirit of knowing where he wanted to be and making it so, made me think he was for me.  To tell you the truth it was one of the things I liked most about him.  He didn't feel particularly needy.  He'd love to be cuddled up with ya, if he wanted to be cuddled up, and when he didn't wanna be bothered with that noise he'd get up and go where he wanted to be.  I respected that.

Bring your dog to work 2000
From the time he came home with me he, with the exception of work, (photo-y ahem) mostly, came along with me as if he was package deal.  After having met him here in BBGville, a friend living on a lake in Akron, actually invited him not me up for the weekend.  "Can Uncle John come up x date?", she and her hubby asked.   ...well, yeah, ya know, if I can come too.  Which I loved, actually.  I loved that he was considered a good houseguest enough that people didn't hate that that big brown girl was bringin' her dog all the damn time.

Dog is my co-pilot
He really got around.  I always loved having people ask after him, which after having him whilst working in three separate offices during that span (in addition to friends who knew him under other circumstances) made for a good number of inquisitive human friends.  He didn't know a stranger, and was a pretty mellow pooch.   

Uncle John was loved and treasured every day.  Even when he was being an ass.  He lived a life with entirely too many toys, the freedom to be on any bed, sofa or chair of his choosing and a never ending supply of blueberries, carrots and celery treats.  Scritchy-scratches and head pats were in abundance daily.  As were ridiculous, one-sided conversations that often involved swear-y words peppered in just for fun.  

I knew Uncle John dying would be terrible.  Mostly because that
ass punked me on numerous occasions, like, waking up to this sight.
I, naturally started the process of freaking the fuck out, he lifted his
head and looked at me like, psych, bitch. 

The illustrious, Uncle John was named for the Grateful Dead song, Uncle John's Band.  It's been a year since he died, I haven't listened to it since. 

Uncle John watching his 'big screen'

Uncle John and his friend, George
Before Uncle John became part of my life (I never liked the term 'owner', as someone who if they would have been born in an earlier era would have been owned, it just never sat right with me.  Nor did parent.  The phrasing I preferred was, 'person'.  I was Uncle John's person.  The part of the operation with opposable thumbs and driving privileges.) several in my family thought a dog was a baaaaad idea.  Like, actual scoffing happened.  And, granted, based on my history with keeping plants, and myself alive, both being somewhat sketchy, I can see why.  
He was my first grownup pet.  So, 'are you sure that's a good idea?' was a valid question I heard more frequently than I would have liked.  Not to sound cocky, but it was one of the best ideas I've ever had.  Every good day was made better by his presence and every shitty one was made more bearable.  Somehow he had a full belly, toys, treats and a dry, warm/cool place to be without effort or care one, and yet I was the one who had the better end of the deal in the situation.  (...And I'm the one who had to clean up his doodles.) 


Every day was a fun new adventure and Uncle John was spry until his last moments.  Nothing had made me think anything was wrong, or that the day would end differently than any of the past 5,800+ had.  About 2am we went to bed, Uncle John scampered up the stairs, as I walked in the room he kinda staggered as he neared the bed and then he coughed up blood and made a terrible painful sound.  I picked him up and blood continued to come from his doggy nose.  I instantaneously and instinctively knew he was dying, and I knew there was nothing I could do at 2am that would change or help the situation.  I could see that things were unfolding fast enough that getting to the vet wasn't an option.  Nor was calling someone to come over.  So there we were, sitting in a dark room, me rocking him, telling him what a good boy he'd been, how much I'd enjoyed our time together and how much he was loved and would be missed while giving him kisses and crying. 

After the sun came up I called my Mom and her hubby, and AnonD.  AnonD took Uncle John to have his doggy body taken care of, for which I remain thankful.  I still haven't taken possession of Uncle John's ashes.  He stays at their house.  Not because I don't care enough to bring him home, but because it seems too painful to bring him home.  (He's with Rocky, Ace and Gus, AnonD's dogs who have passed.) 

Yesterday when I woke up I thought to myself, this is the last day Uncle John was with me.  They've been, for various reasons, some pretty shitty 365 days.  I've hated each one because he's gone, and I've been thankful on each one that he had a life that only had had 5 bad minutes at the end.  We should all be so lucky.  And so missed.

Other Uncle John Posts:



Anonymous said...

I got some dust or something in my eyes...shmoo

Anonymous said...

You never share the most sad and tender details except through writing, which you do so beautifully and authentically. It's a good thing keyboards aren't like stationary in terms of transmitting everything to the screen otherwise there would be tear stains on here.

I know how much you have missed UJ. When your life has been filled and touched so deeply and so long, of course your grief matches. You raised a wonderful dog and gave him a wonderful life and even in his time of death, you knew exactly what to do to comfort him and say goodbye, even if it caused you pain. Once again I find myself in awe of you. Not for the first time, you know.

I hope marking this day gives you some peace and allows you to think about the moments of happiness and joy much more than the moments of loss and loneliness of missing him.

Anonymous said...

Damn it, BBG! Crying about a dead dog was not on my agenda today! Uncle John was the coolest fuckin dog ever. Coco is right there too so I'll be counting on you when that time comes because you will know how it feels to lose a great personality wrapped in a cute furry package.

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