Tag Archives: Ernie The Wonder Beagle

Dog Days

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Love beyond understanding…

There is a commercial for Subaru that makes me weepy almost every time I see it.  Willie Nelson sings “You’re my buddy, my pal, my friend…”, as a man prepares for a road trip with his dog, with a close-up shot of a bone-shaped birthday cake decorated with the number 14.  The spot goes on to show the man and his dog marking activities off what looks to be the dog’s bucket list.  The tag line is, “Love—it’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru”.

Now, I realize that that ultimate goal of the commercial is to sell cars.  However, there is a category of advertising known as “image-building”, into which this particular spot falls.  Instead of listing specifications about safety ratings, gas mileage and dealer incentives, spots like this instead help the viewer (or listener in the case of radio advertising) build an emotional connection with the product.  I can imagine the pitch meeting for this particular commercial, with creative service professionals discussing how they could target pet owners as potential buyers for this car.  That’s their job, and in this case, they performed it extremely well.

When I see this commercial, I can’t help remembering our first dog, Ernie The Wonder Beagle.  He was actually a Beagle-Basset mix, adopted from the local shelter and estimated to be 1.5 to 2 years of age when we took him home.  We enjoyed nearly 11 years of unconditional love with him, even as we became acquainted with his emotional issues.

It was pretty clear that at some point he had suffered abuse, and possibly starvation.  He was skittish around people he didn’t know, especially men, for a long time.  But with time and love, he learned that he could trust us, and could trust the people we trusted.  He especially seemed to enjoy it when he had a chance to see The Aunts at Dad’s for Christmas Eve and he was quite affectionate with them.

He was both extremely sensitive and ridiculously funny.  Countless times he emerged from our bedroom with a cotton swab he’d swiped from a wastebasket hanging out of his mouth like a cigar.  He “stalked” his stuffed toys by circling around them on the floor before grabbing and shaking them with all his might, eventually throwing the offending toy down and descending on it in a growling, playful frenzy.  He listened to 11 years of tears, joys, secrets and meltdowns from me, served as a heating pad when I was cold or had backaches or cramps, showered me with kisses and snuggles every day when I came home from work.  He loved me when it felt like no one else in the world did, or could.

For about the last 11 months of his life, Ernie lived with cancer, and we lived with it as well.  We and our veterinarians exercised our best judgement regarding how to give Ernie his best chances for both survival and a decent quality of life.  There were several surgeries to remove tumors, multiple rounds of steroids and other medications trying to keep his cancer at bay.  He was a brave little fighter, much more so than I was during his illness.

In the end, though, the cancer took him from us.  Ten years have passed since he died.  A couple of months after he died, we adopted Our Boy Roy, who came home with us on the same day that Ernie had, September 4…Ernie in 1996 and Roy in 2007. Roy’s adoption is a story for another blog post, one I will get around to writing, eventually.

As wonderful as Roy is and as much as I love him, I still miss Ernie every single day.  Our pets provide us with a kind of love that is beyond understanding or explanation.  We humans would do well to emulate the kind of simple love our pets give us and share that love with other humans.

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Above, me with Ernie shortly after adopting him, September 1996, and on his last night at home, July 4, 2007, before he went to the hospital for the last time.  He died one week later.

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One of the best friends of my life, Ernie The Wonder Beagle.  God rest his little Beagle-y soul.

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Puppy Love

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Our Four-Legged Fur Family…

Last night driving home from work I received a text message from Jeff telling me he was at the vet with Our Boy Roy.  When Jeff got home from work, he let Roy out and at first the dog seemed fine.  Then he began to whimper and would not put one of his back legs down.  Roy is not much of a complainer so Jeff knew that he must have hurt himself and got to our vet hospital right away.

Dr. Rick examined Roy and said it was a stretched tendon, gave him a laser treatment, sent him home with pain medication, instructions for us to try to limit his activity, and a follow-up appointment for Monday next week.  Dr. Rick also said that at some point the tendon could break and that would mean surgery.  Jeff and I have been down that road before, and neither of us relishes the thought of revisiting it.

Just last week was Roy’s “birthday”, the 8th anniversary of the day we brought him home from the shelter.  Since his estimated age at that time was about 2 years old, he is about 10 now.  Definitely a senior statesman, but still very puppy-ish in his personality.  Little dogs seem to stay that way longer than larger breeds do.

We never really intended to, but we became “those people”.  Our dogs have been like kids to us, and Roy’s injury brought back memories of our last year with Ernie The Wonder Beagle, who died from mast cell cancer.  We went through tumor surgery, medication, more tumors and more surgery and more medication, before Ernie’s llittle body just gave out and he died.  Jeff said he was concerned that, at Roy’s age, “this might be the beginning of…”.  I tried to reassure him, and myself, that this is just an injury, a temporary situation that Roy will overcome.

Roy is an agile little 22-pound Terrier mix who loves to jump onto the couch.  One evening last year Roy jumped up on the couch like he does dozens of times every day.  But this time, he got a weird look on his face and began acting like he was in pain.  Somehow he had landed in such a way that he got a hairline fracture in one of his little ribs!  Medication and rest took care of that and soon he was back to his old self.

And I am hopeful that rest and meds will take care of him his time as well.  He is usually a pretty light sleeper, but not long after he got his half a pain pill, he was bearing weight on his leg again, and he slept well through the night.

I’m glad one of us did.

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