Monday, April 25, 2016

Goodbye to a Friend

The passing of a good friend is never easy to accept.  Today it is with much sadness that we say goodbye to Blue, a Great Dane with a heart as big as his formidable physique and a disposition as sweet as any dog you will meet.  Just a few days ago when we celebrated his fifth birthday, we had no idea he would be taken from us so soon.  His passing this morning, from heart failure brought on by pneumonia, is an unexpected tragedy for his family as well as his many friends.

I first met Blue when he was just a youngster, rescued by my dear friend Carol from neighbors to whom a dog was “just a dog."  Most of the time he was either confined to a crate or left in a small back yard with no shelter, little human contact and no training.  But he was one of the lucky ones.  From that point on his life was all a dog could wish for and more, with a loving home, good dog friends, plenty of exercise and a job he loved as a therapy dog.

Even as a puppy Blue was bigger than a breadbox.  As we watched him grow, the comparisons switched from inanimate to animate objects…big as a horse, gentle as a lamb.

And they were true.  Though a giant among canines, I never saw him roll his lip or show the slightest sign of aggression, or even aggravation, toward a person or another dog.  When LSDs (little snappy dogs) came yipping and nipping around his ankles, he looked at them with bemused tolerance.  When the border collies growled and air-snapped, he just cocked his head, puzzlement in his soft, brown eyes.  He even shared his cherished toys with the other dogs.  But when the coyotes howled in the greenbelt, it was another story.  His deep-chested bark threatened mayhem if they came near.  And, on one recent occasion he engaged a marauding coyote and came away with the scars to prove it.

He was no saint, however.  Even though he was gentle and careful not to step on his smaller friends, his tail could raise welts or clear a coffee table in a heartbeat.  Neither was he above counter surfing when no one was looking.  After all, kitchen counters and tabletops were at nose level for him, and often held tasty treats.  He could see no reason not to enjoy them.

Blue was loved by all who knew him, and he returned their affection.  Children ran and hugged him, squealing with delight.  At the care facility where he visited as a therapy dog, the residents waited eagerly each Wednesday for him to arrive.  At the dog park or on the street, complete strangers approached and asked to pet him or to take his picture.  

Your big paws will be hard to fill, Blue.  Rest in peace, my sweet friend.  You will be missed, but we thank God for the time we had with you.  You were a special gift, and our memories of you will always be cherished. 

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