Farewell Squirrel Killer ;-)

Sad news from ZMan land this weekend. At the ripe old age of somewhere between 13 and 15 Sandy went off to chase squirrels in the sky on Sunday. I thought the old guy deserved to have all the good memories recorded on the internet so random people can read about this in a hundred years ;-) If its the year 2109 and you read this then please send an ether-mail message to my brain which I expect is in a jar somewhere playing games on the Xbox 216,000.

Nobody knows how old he really was - Sandy and his sister Susie were the product of a divorce according to the shelter and the people who gave them up never told anyone their age. I never really did understand how 2 people splitting up meant that there was no longer home for the dogs since there is now 2 homes... but hey their loss was my gain. The vet looked at the teeth and said they were between 4 and 5. Later vets were equally as vague. It didn't matter because, as those of you with dogs know, every day is like their birthday - just get out the treat jar and its party time.

All my friends were getting puppies and spending their days complaining about chewed things, poop and pee on the floor and having to crate them for hours as they couldn't be trusted. My dogs knew what the garden was for, knew sit and down and could be left in the house for hours without chewing anything. In fact their hobby, especially Sandy, was sleeping on the couch. Many's the day I got home from work and sat on the couch to find it very, very warm. They were not allowed on the couch when I was there so this was their little rebellion. If I sneaked in very quietly I would occasionally catch him still asleep and then I would get the panicked look because he hadn't done his duty and met me at the door.

Sandy, affectionately known as Chunkers due to his odd girth, got far more Corgi in the Lab/Corgi mix (imagine that union!) than his sister. So while she looked like a little lab and was more athletic, Chunkers tended to plod around. I had a dog door in the garage so I would let them out and within seconds Susie would be round the house and on the grass. Sandy would eventually appear by which time Susie was often done and on her way back in. One week he stopped appearing and concerned about his toilet habits I peered round the side of the house. He had decided that there really was no point in going all that way down to the grass unless he had serious business to do. So he peed by the dog door and came right back inside.

While I'm on the toilet habits he always had to stare at you while he pooped... I never worked out why. He would do the round and round thing like dogs do and then when he found the right place he would turn his head and stare at you in the house. Was he ashamed or proud... who knows!

One day he started sneezing. He had short little corgi legs and every time he sneezed his nose hit the deck and he looked totally shocked. I think he must have sneezed 5 times before I got over to hold his head up. Sorry but I couldn't help laughing it was so funny to watch.

On a walk it was always Sandy who would stop to pick up the dead flat road kill and carry it back before you noticed. Susie would sniff and find it - Sandy would grab it. What a team.

When it was bath time he knew there was a biscuit coming and never complained while Susie sat quaking in the shower.

When it was tooth cleaning time he would sit there licking the meat flavour toothpaste off your fingers while Susie hid under the chair.

When you lit the fire or a candle he would look in terror and mostly hide upstairs. At best he would sit as far away as possible staring at the flame like it was going to get him. Susie lay in front of the fire like a cat until you were worried she was so hot she might burn.

Oh and he was deathly afraid of retractable tape measures especially the noise they make when you press the retract button.

Dogs are so strange.

Sandy had some skin conditions on and off, at its worst the top of his tail and ears would crack and scab over. One morning I awoke to find the white paintwork in the bathroom looking like a CSI episode. As I went downstairs to get cleanup gear I found more on the walls and all over the kitchen cabinets. When it came to tails Sandy had a fantastic heavy lab tail. The sort of tail you can feel across the room when it bangs on the floor or wall. Well somehow the scabs had broken and Sandy had done a tour of the house obviously in a very happy mood wagging his tail. 6 years later there are still the occasional small blood spots I see on the walls.

Sandy's philosophy in life was "There ain't nothin' worth runnin' for". His speedy 'trot' had all the grace and cuteness of a baby Hippo.

Besides the obvious food there were really only 2 things he moved even slightly fast for. The door bell - yes I admit to tormenting them when there was a doorbell on TV by skipping back to replay it over and over and seeing how many times he would go to the front door to check (there is no limit - they would have done it all night I am sure) - and squirrels in HIS garden. God forbid one ever dared to run along the fence. They would both go ballistic both inside or outside the house which means the windows were never clean between dog footprints from outside and dog slobber on the inside. The squirrels soon learned though that little Corgi legs are never going to make it up a 6 foot fence so they would sit them looking down eating nuts. It didn't take long to train the dogs that "Go see" or "Who's there" meant a sprint to the back door to see if there were any squirrels and it was an easy way of giving them some extra exercise. The title of the post is misleading - he never killed anything other than the occasional milk bone. I still expect to hear barking when I see a squirrel on the fence - the cat doesn't seem to care!

For some personal reasons, the dogs haven't lived with me for a couple of years now but I'm assured Sandy was still happy and 'running' around right up to Saturday morning before he got suddenly ill and he didn't suffer very long at all. He had slowed down a bit in his old age but the beauty of starting out slow is that nobody will ever notice - I like that idea.

Here's a bunch of my favourite pictures... Farewell Chunkers. Its always sad when a pet dies but so many fun memories - well maybe not that time your diarrhea was so bad you woke me up with the smell but everything else ;-)


* Note that Susie is still going strong despite having 2 ACL surgeries and a growth removed from her liver over the years.

Published 11 May 2009 09:02 AM by zman
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