My dog, A Life of Joy and Love

November 11, 2011
He was a Newfoundland-Lab mix. Black with long hair, and brown eyes. He was about up to the middle of my thighs. He was a people lover; he wouldn’t hang out with the other dogs when we went to the dog park. He almost never growled and only when he did you were too close to his face or body. Kind of like me, don’t get too close physically or emotionally. I have a picture of me using him as a standing post from when I was little. He had no muzzle white then.

One of my earliest memories with him was at the first house that I had any recollection of. I was one or two wearing a red shirt that I hated because it was too big, and a pair of blue jeans. I used him as a stand so I could keep my balance. That’s all I remember, and I guess that just being around him gave my mind the power it needed to remember that.

As I got older, I started to notice him more and more and would pay more attention to him. I would play with him more too. Jumping ahead two or three years to when I was having my fifth birthday. This is one of my favorite memories with Ivan. I had some kids over that I had met at a daycare center that I went to after school. We were outside and playing in the small play set that I had. Ivan and my other dog Elvis, were running around the climbing wall, slide, and the four wooden legs. They were waiting for us to come down the yellow slide and chase us back up the climbing wall. One kid whose name was Raymond, went down, and apparently not expecting Ivan to be there jumped off the slide and ran into Elvis. He tripped and scrapped his knee, got back up and sprinted to the wall and got back up got up like a mountain goat. That was funny and it happened to us all at least once, but none were as funny as Raymond’s’.

As my life was progressing, so was Ivan’s. Elvis was getting older and older, and my parents had recently gone through a divorce. I was in 3rd or 4th grade and Elvis was sicker and sicker. Dad told me one morning that he was going to put him down. I didn’t understand and then he said that he wasn’t going to see me again. I understood then and didn’t really mind because I hadn’t had much interaction with him. That night, I was at my moms, and dad came by and let Ivan and Elvis play for a little bit. The were fighting. Not the kind where there is teeth flashing and blood spattering, but how fox kits do some times.

I asked my mom this: “Why are they growling, are they mad at each other?”

“No, they are just playing the kind of game where they need to growl in order to show who is stronger”. It is the same way with humans. We need to growl in order to show who is stronger.

I remember that when my mom and I would start to go on road trips, we would bring Ivan with us. He didn’t know what to expect the first time, but after that he would- well lets just say you could feel the excitement coming off of him like a tidal wave. When we actually got to Tennessee or Oregon, wherever we would go, he would race out of the car and leap into the house and explore the new smells. Then he would notice my mother calling him and run to back to us. We would always enjoy watching him run around. I really think that my grandma and grandpa really enjoyed his company.

We didn’t go on a road trip this time though, we checked him into the Shiloh country club for dogs. We flew into Nashville MCO airport and went to Clarksville. It was about the 5th or 6th day that we were there when my mom got the call.

“Hello?” I heard her say.

There was a pause.

“Okay. Thank you, bye”, she hung up the phone.

I was in the room playing minecraft.

She made her way back to the room and stood in the doorway.

“Alex,” she said softly, “Come and sit on the bed please.

I did and she looked like she was on the brink of tears.

“What’s wrong?” I asked although I feared the answer.

“Ivan died at the kennel”

I was stunned, but not surprised.

“I knew that’s what this call was about” I said. Truth be told, I did and it hit me like a shotgun blast that today was the feared day of death. ]

We had him cremated at the animal hospital that was about 3 miles from the kennel. We still have his ashes to this day.

A few of you even knew him while he was alive. If you were here since kindergarten, you knew him. Even though he was a dog he still taught me some things. One thing was taught me to always hold on and life’s end no matter how much joy that you get out of them, but if you still believe in them, they will be with you forever. Life ends. Lives’ not fair, and hold on to what matters. Amazing I how much you could learn from a dog.

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