30 November 2005

Remembering a Gentle Giant

One year ago, our gentle giant passed away. We've since adopted our current stable of Land Sharks, and I like to think I'm over his passing, but I do miss the old boy quite a bit from time to time.

We lost him due to what we believe was 'bloat' (aka 'GDV'), which is common in dogs with deep chest cavities. We were aware of the potential for the condition, but didn't have any idea that the early warning signs were basically what you might consider depression. He seemed mopey, and I figured it was because the weather had been crappy and we hadn't gone out to play or for a decent walk in a couple weeks. All of a sudden he started having trouble breathing and controlling his bowels. This was on a Saturday and we didn't know what to do. We did some quick research and found some suggestions to give him anti-gas tablets, but we were apparently too late. He died in my arms while Becky was feverishly trying to find a local 24-hour emergency veterinarian. He was 7, which seems much too young, even considering Danes typically only live to be between 8 and 12.

I always loved our walks, even when he pulled too much. I'd sprint with him to get it out of his system, and then we'd have a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. I was always worried that he'd get too excited around the neighborhood kids and knock one of them over, but the worst he ever did was one gigantic swipe of his tongue on some kid's face that elicited an "Eeeeewww, GROSS!".

He loved being at the beach, but didn't like the cold water so much. I can't say as I blame him one bit. It was hilarious to watch him chasing after seagulls on the rare occasions I'd let him off his leash. He really enjoyed running in the sand.

He was a great fetcher, too. I was very pleased that he liked fetching footballs, since I really love throwing them. We used to go to the Gresham City Park's baseball fields in the fall after baseball season, so I could let him off the leash (the ball fields were fenced in). I'd come home with a sore arm, and he'd come home and crash on the couch.

One other thing that I miss greatly is the fact that I could scratch his ears or pet his neck or back and not have to bend at the waist. His size was also helpful in that we never had any trouble finding him, like we do with the cat when she disappears to hide from our current dogs.

I also wish we'd have had more winters with snow. He really seemed to enjoy playing in the white stuff, as seen below:

I love our current pups, and they are certainly as much a part of the family as Hank was, but I'll always have a special place in my heart for the old boy. My Blogger user name, 'Ghost Dog', is as much (probably more of) a tribute to him as it is to the film of the same name.


Mister Jinxy said...

He was a beautiful big dog.

If there's a doggy heaven, I'm sure he's there with all of the other good dogs.

The bad ones go to Spotsylvania.

Ghost Dog said...

Thanks, Jinxy-san.

He used to do this thing when I poured his dog food into the big storage bin where he'd flatten the pile out with his snout. He wouldn't eat it until I scooped it into his bowl, but for some reason he didn't like an unflattened heap of kibble in there. That was one of my favorite little quirks of his.

One other thing he used to do was stand in between a couple of the trees in the back yard whenever it was cold and windy. Phoebe did that once a little while ago, and when Becky pointed it out to me, I told her that Pheebs was channeling Hank. Probably more of a coincidence, but I like to think that his spirit is still around or something.

Major Clanger said...

I agree - he's a great looking dog, and a moving story. It sounds like you had a lot of fun with him, and he had a lot of fun with you.