A Good Old Boy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASherman was the best dog ever!

You’ve all read about my dog, Cody, and most of you have read about Riggsie and Morgan.  Every one of them is/was special.

But Sherman was one of my first.

It was the early 1970s.  I was in my first marriage.  I had recently purchased a pure-bred Siberian Husky which I named Bandit, and since I worked all day, I thought getting her a playmate would be wise.  So I perused the paper and found an ad for mixed-breed puppies.  And that’s how I got Squeaker.  She was the runt of a litter of mixed hound/chihuahuas – a little brown ball of fur.

Bandit didn’t like Squeaker, and Bandit was much bigger.  So Squeaker found a new home with our elderly, lonely Uncle, who took her in and loved her.  But Squeaker was sneaky and got out of the house one night and apparently found a new friend – a German Shepherd (in those days, people didn’t automatically have pets neutered).  Lo and behold, not long after, there was a new litter of pups.  Since it was our fault that Uncle had Squeaker to begin with, we agreed to take one of those pups, but this time we figured a male might get along better with Bandit.

And so, I got my Sherman.  He and Bandit got along just fine.

Sherman TankHow did Sherman get that name, you ask?  Because as a new pup, he would run into walls – and instead of stopping, he would continue to try to go through the wall, just like a Sherman tank.

A few years later, my then-husband and I divorced, and neither of us could take both dogs.  He got Bandit.  I got Sherman.  Sherman came back to Buffalo, NY with me, and we moved in with my parents.

Such a good boy he was.  As I went through the trauma of divorce and relocation, Sherman became my rock. He would lie quietly with his head on my lap as I sobbed my heart out, and then lick the tears off my face.

Sherman and I would take long walks (more or less – at 38 lbs, and totally un-leash-trained, he dragged my sorry ass wherever he wanted to go).  There was railroad property behind my house, where I could let him run off-leash.  He would take off like a bat out of hell (sorry about the cliché), but he always came back as soon as I jingled his leash.  The walk home was always so much more sedate.

I found a new job, and a new place, and Sherman became a stay-at-home-while-mom-works dog.  I felt bad about leaving him all day, but my mom and brother lived just a few blocks away and often stopped in to feed and play with him.  I don’t think it was a bad life for a dog.

Sherman even had his own phone.  When I set up service for my new place, I was reluctant to use my own first name, and I believed that using only a first initial was a sure tip-off that I was a female living alone.  So I asked the phone company representative if I could put the listing in the name of another family member.  I chose “Sherman” – when asked, I simply stated that Sherman was my son.  This caused quite a stir at my workplace, where my new co-workers were dying to find out more about me.

Once I was ready to start dating again, Sherman became my protector.  If he didn’t like a date, that date became history.  I specifically remember one instance where a date forced his way into the house and then became overly frisky – my Sherman chased that guy right out the front door, and I never saw that gentleman again.  Good dog!

Good DoggyMaybe that’s why I chose my present husband.  The first time he came over to pick me up for a date, Sherman was all over him, all kissy face and tail wagging.  Considering that the guy didn’t have a dog of his own, and never wanted one, the fact that my dog loved him unconditionally right from the start seemed like a good sign.  Dogs know people better than people do sometimes.  My husband and I have been married for more than 30 years, and every one of our dogs has loved him.

But like all pets, Sherman grew old.  And Sherman grew cranky.  Sherman was fine with the baby when she was born, but once she started crawling, he became alarmed.  We had to keep him separated from the baby – no amount of retraining was working.  The end came when I entered the living room and found the baby sitting in her playpen with her fingers through the mesh, trying to pet the furry beast.  And Sherman had his teeth bared and was snarling low in his throat.

I’d like to think Sherman’s personality changes came about because he was nearly 14 and had tumors – maybe he just didn’t feel well.  But no matter.  Babies take precedence over animals, no matter how much that animal is loved.

Sherman was too old to find a new home.  We had just been given notice that our landlord wanted his house back, and we would have to go into an apartment that allowed babies but not pets.  I knew if I took Sherman to the SPCA, he would be unadoptable and put down, coldly and clinically with no one to hold him.

The ride to the vet nearly killed me.  It was the first time I witnessed euthanasia.  I held the dog and cried.  That dog had been with me through thick and thin for almost 14 years.  The vet offered to prescribe a sedative for me once it was over because I was no upset.  My hands shook uncontrollably as I signed the check to pay for the vet’s services.  (These days, most vets ask for payment in advance if you are euthanizing an animal.)

I swore I would never, ever adopt another animal.  My husband said he never wanted another dog.  It was just too hard raising kids and animals together, and it was way too stressful when the animal became sick or old.

Yes, we all know that changed eventually.  Someday maybe I’ll tell the story of how we wound up with fish, gerbils,  a hamster, a guinea pig, and more dogs.

For now, I will lift a glass of wine in honor of my Sherman – probably the best dog I ever had.

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I love to hear from my readers.  You may comment on this post, comment on my Facebook or Twitter pages, or email me at cordeliasmom2012@yahoo.com or notcordelasmom@aol.com

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Images by:  Cordelia’s Mom, and vxla, and Daniel Ferencak, respectively

This entry was posted in Pets, That's Life and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to A Good Old Boy

  1. Paul says:

    Personally I’ve never had to have a pet euthanized, it must be very, very difficult. My heart goes out to you CM. I had a good friend who was a palliative care nurse and she worked with death every day. She called me one night sobbing because she had to have her beloved dog put down – he was too old and his health was failing in ways that could not be fixed. Her exact words were: “I don’t want to play God, it’s too hard.”

    Thank you for sharing with us CM. Very touching post.

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    • I don’t know why, but it seems harder to watch an animal die than a human who’s in the last stages of cancer or something. Maybe it’s because the animal has no idea of what’s coming and looks at you with those trusting eyes. It doesn’t get much easier with the next one, either.

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      • ladyryl says:

        I have had to put down three of my own and help make the decision with another. All 4 animals were very ill and I believe they were glad to have peace where there had only been pain and/or suffering. They were all strong souls that fought their illnesses as long as they could, but had reached a point of surrender and were ready to go.
        I sat down and talked to each one when the decision time came and everyone of them seemed to visibly relax when I told them the time had come to go to sleep and not wake up again, not suffer any more pain, not need to try to keep going just for me… There were still a ton of tears and the grieving, but it made the choice easier.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. willowdot21 says:

    That was just a beautiful post. You had me in tears. Xxx.

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  3. I feel for you and share every single tear.
    We had to make the decision for our previous dog and stayed with him, me stroking his head and my husband holding his hand over his heart as he gently slipped away. The vet was marvellous.
    I lasted 6 days before we got Maggie, and when we took her for her second jabs, we saw the vet who had been so kind to us and our boy. He said he was glad we’d got another dog quickly, and added that we’d made the right decision, though he couldn’t tell us that at the time. It made the grieving process easier, but didn’t take away the pain, even after more than 10 years. ❤

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  4. Dan Antion says:

    We have been through this with two dogs and three cats. It’s very hard but it has to be done. Animals don’t show the pain they are in like humans, but in the cases of our dogs, we knew that they were in pain and meds weren’t helping. We keep getting more 🙂

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    • I think most of us have gone through it at least once. But it usually doesn’t stop us from getting another pet, does it? After the last euthanasia, my husband didn’t think he could ever love another dog – but then we got Cody. Now he gets upset if I threaten to send her away.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve thankfully never had to make the decision to put a dog down. I don’t know if I could do it, particularly as I sit here with Choppy next to me, happy and healthy (if getting older, just like the me). I can’t imagine having to make that sort of a decision, especially for a dog who has been with me so faithfully for years. Thank you for sharing this story.

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    • It’s not an easy decision to make. Sherman was not just old and cranky – he had started to develop tumors. If I had anyone else who could take him, or if I could have been sure he would be adopted from a shelter, the story would have had a different ending. Unfortunately, at that time there were very few no-kill shelters.

      Thank you for reading, and commenting.

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  6. A salute to all the good old dogs we have loved and cried for. You made the hard — but better — decision.

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  7. Elyse says:

    There is nobody who gets you through the hard times like a furry friend. During my hardest times, I had Goliath with me. Like Sherman, Goliath chose my husband before I did. thanks for sharing Sherman. And you made me re-read this post — Here’s my boy (who was the subject of many blog posts) http://fiftyfourandahalf.com/2012/12/02/for-medicinal-purposes-only/

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  8. Pingback: ANIMAL HOUSE, PART I: Water and Sand | Cordelia's Mom, Still

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  10. Reblogged this on Cordelia's Mom, Still and commented:

    I’ve been thinking about this sweet pup lately. Hope this story makes you love him, too.

    Like

  11. For what it is worth, your dog probably had a version of doggy dementia. It is VERY common in elderly dogs. He really wasn’t in his right mind and nothing you could have done would have fixed it. It is quite common thing and is just beginning to be talked about.

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  12. Ten years ago, I had to put my 11-yr old German Spitz down because he had kidney failure. It is one of the hardest thing to do. 😩 So glad you have Cody now. 😀💕

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