Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I Love You, Logan

You accumulate a lot in 12 years of owning a dog. Four dog beds. A special container for food that also serves as a food and water dish. A doggie backpack for going on walks. Toys. A ball that you can record your voice on so your pooch can hear it while you're away. Two dog crates. A collar and a tag with your pet's emergency contact info on it. A Dog-Sitter video. Food and snacks and medicine. Blankets. And lots and lots of dog hair tucked into the corners of your life.

I adopted Logan from the SPCA when he was about 3 or 4 months old. He was an adorable puppy. They said he was part Boxer, part German Shepherd, but I knew he was actually part Pit Bull, part Labrador. He had that broad Pit Bull chest and gaping maw grin, and the fur and feet of a Lab. He may have had other bits and pieces in him, too, but he was all mine.

Our first night together, we went to PetSmart. He was so happy. I let him pick out his own puppy bed and his own puppy toys. By the time we were done, he was worn out from all the excitement.

Through the years, he played in the autumn leaves, played with Mom and Dad's dog Asia, played with the kitties, played with his toys, played at the dog park. He got in trouble for tipping a baby cow when Dad took him to Mongo. He and Asia had an adventure that involved crossing many busy streets, after which he ended up on Mom and Dad's front porch and Asia ended up in Reservoir Pond and then Animal Care and Control. He chased the neighbor's cat. He bumped his head on the dining room table so many times while he and Asia were running around that I started calling him my little football player. He never showed pain.

And through all the fun and sport, he always had that big grin and a huge heart. All he ever wanted was love, and he also gave it unconditionally. He came to comfort me when I was sick or upset. He protected me against mail carriers and pizza delivery people. He was always there.

He was not a perfect puppy. He suffered from separation anxiety. He was afraid of thunderstorms. He managed to chew his way out of a four foot tall plywood pen we made for him and was there at the door greeting us with his wagging tail, looking rather pleased with himself. He had to have emergency surgery for a twisted stomach, and ended up with three sets of stitches going up his poor, bruised belly.

Logan was smart. I'll never forget the time he was chewing on a toy and went to look in the kitchen. I picked up the toy and hid it. He came back in to play some more and stopped cold when his toy wasn't there. He looked around. When his back was turned, I put the toy back, and as he came around again he did a double take. Then he looked up at me with crinkles at the corner of his narrowed eyes, and he knew I had done it, and he knew I was teasing him. And he got the joke.

Then came the day that he started to slow down. He couldn't walk as far. He couldn't play as long. He was getting older, as happens to everyone. He couldn't see as well, or hear very well at all. But he was still my puppyface.

And then one Sunday, I noticed he'd been laying in the same place for hours. I tried to get him up to go out and he didn't budge. I uncurled him to rouse him and he sat there, staring off into space. At the time, I thought he was having a senior dog moment. But now I think he was hurting. He was hurting and I didn't know it, or suspect the depth of it. I thought it was old age, maybe arthritis.

He was diagnosed with lymphoma. Cancer. We started him on medication to help with the swelling and pain, but in looking back, I know he was suffering longer than I realized. He'd stopped playing with his toys. Why didn't I realize that? He still had a smile and a wagging tail for me, was still excited and waiting for Mom and Dad to come over on Sundays with Asia, still happy to go on a walk. He was still there for me, as always.

We took Logan to the vet one last time on Monday. I had a blanket on my lap and he laid down and I hugged him and told him I loved him until he was gone. He licked my arm once, telling me he loved me, too. Did he know he was also telling me goodbye? 

And now, I'll miss him. Miss him coming to greet me when I get home. Miss giving him a goodnight hug. Miss that crazy, goofy, giant smile. But I'll never forget him. My sweet, flawed, big-hearted puppyface. My baby boy.

Thursday, July 16, 2015