Many years ago Chas and I were in Tucson visiting my grandparents. I can remember the moment clearly as we sat out there on their back patio. It faced East towards Mount Lemmon... shit it was pretty. It must have been fall or spring because it was nice enough to enjoy eating dinner outside. Chas and I were talking about that when we came home that weekend we were going to pick up our first dog. I always had a vision of someday being a bachelor, and of my siblings, I'd be the last to have children and get married. Life would be me and my rat terrier.. Obviously that bachelor life didn't go to plan hahah. Knowing this story, Chas wanted to buy one for me as a bday present.
I remember GP talking to us that night. He said "just know that the decision you're making to go bring an animal home means you're also going to be required to make the difficult decision to someday put them to sleep." He delivered the way only GP could... subtle and wise.. the kind of wisdom that makes you stop eating when it sinks in. Since then every time we bring a new animal home, his perspective finds its way to the top of mind.
Oddly enough Chas and I have been together for over 20 years now and we've never had to put an animal to sleep before... until today - Fathers day no less.
A little over three hours ago we all said goodbye to our family dog, my dog, my shop buddy, Bison.
Bison had just turned 10 at the beginning of June... so I guess 70 in dog years...
My GP was born at the end of June and was 70 when he passed :'(
We named him Bison because he was a big ass dog.. much like a buffalo. We almost named him Gumbo, but he was clearly way too clever to be named as such. In addition to his size, he was brown everywhere with a black face... Bison it was.
Bison was a boxer-ridgeback mix... he had a barrel chest, walked like a boxer, playful like a boxer.. his eyes would track and follow you the way boxers do... at the same time he also was long legged, tall, long snouted, like a ridgeback. Ridgebacks are African Lion hunting dogs. Which means he was a working dog and one that was built for the heat and enjoyed the sun.. Much like another dumbass I know.. (me). hahha The dog loved the heat! and was a total bitch when it was cold outside.. again, similar to me. He had a working dog demeanor from the ridgeback mixed with the silly playful side of the boxer.. our personalities jived right away.
His playful personality made him easy to get along with but he was loyal to a fault. He couldn't go to bed without me or allow me out of the bedroom without following me. He was an all around super chill dog. He loved everyone, not the annoying type either.... well, unless you were Chas trying to chillout on the couch... totally annoying! haha
He was a dog that would wander out in the street with you to empty the trash, no leash on either. When the doorbell would ring he sounded like he could tear you to shreds.. but he's all talk, nothing but love and had the right amount of rebelliousness.
Growing up as a kid I was always a cat person, at my heart, I still am. I also never had a dog that was legit mine.. not one who claimed me. But Bison did.
In the early mornings when I would spray myself with cologne and turn off the lights he knew it was time to go to the shop. I could hear his "well!! it's time to get up grunt" along with the clicks and pops of his joints while he pranced ready to go. I would let him out in the shop with me for the quiet mornings when no one was out there. He would sit at the edge of the garage and the driveway keeping an eye out for things.
The cool thing, sometimes annoying haha, is that with his conditioning to the shop, he knew wherever I was in the house working on shit, he'd be there by my side.. I didn't ask him, he just did.
And as soon as I sat on the floor to chill and recover from the day, he had no qualms about finding a spot on my lap.
I always had that thought in the back of my head from my GP.. especially since this past year. Pretty much when covid showed up, he got some weird ass cough that wouldn't go away. Went to the vet, no valley fever, nothing. Got him on meds, all that stuff. Still in the back of my head GP's wisdom was there. Going through all the hell we did last year of 2020, RIP Nanna, RIP Aunt Tina, RIP Shawn, RIP Bonus Dad.. .man, the final kick in the dick would have been putting Bison down. He had two really serious vet appts throughout. Each time I would have to prepare myself for the difficult decision.. Thankfully however, he was fine. But they were aging indications. :( Suddenly his barrel chested badassery self was starting to look like an old man. One who's clock is ticking. You could see how much slower he moved, but he still would get after it in the mornings with me... even if it was in the office.
All this time I'm preparing for this time... 3.5hours ago.... hell, even this post. I have known that I was going to pay homage for him, but you never know when that will be called. Over the last few weeks though his heath had gone to shit. Although he never had a legit stroke, he appeared to have suffered from one.. both in the loss of his balance, his tongue, the endless drooling, and the loss of his mind. You could find him lost staring at the walls for minutes at a time. I knew this day would come.. just sucks to process it. In the back of my mind this past week I "felt" it would be a Fathers Day decision / outcome.... :( We've all got an end date out there.. and if you have lived a full year, you've already lived the date you're going to die. I understand that. This past 2020 year did a good job picking at my feet reminding me about that. Aside from losing a shop buddy, a good ass companion, the hardest part for me is how similar he and I are.. I know, random, weird.. but, I'm kinda random and weird. This bear of a dog, one who on the surface looks one way, but moments later you realize what he is.. it's entirely different than expected. He was disciplined and playful all together. Rebellious and wanted to do shit his way. He loved sitting in the sun soaking up rays while never complaining about how hot it was...but he was damn sure to remind you how shitty cold it was. hahah... These are really similar elements to how I feel I am as a human. It's not only my thoughts, I've also been unprovokingly compared to him - which I thought was cool. As these final months and weeks kicked in I got to watch my buddy loose his mind.. for me, that's the scariest part. Knowing where he was in his prime and now this old man... damn. just is scary for me because I do not want that similarity.. When I think about that kind of outcome it makes me sadder about everything. The difficult part is that this idea has always bothered me - even when I had my first job at 16.. the older men's hands would shake as they paid me at the register.. I would come home talking about that moment.. I guess I've been an old soul my whole life thinking that way. today, my handyman life... sometimes the old man pals around me watching what I'm doing.. or the wife tells me that he used to do this, but cannot anymore... that shit terrifies me... ugh! All being said, I know I have no control over anything. So I am going to continue to do what I can for as long as I can. Maybe someday I will put this gratefulman stuff into a book so when I can't do this anymore someone can read it to me... I don't know. but it hurts my heart. I digress... I am a cat person over dog person.. lame, I know. but I know who I am... I can tell you this much however, my buddy Bison sure did give it a run for the money. :) I know for certain that I am a better human being because of owning Bison and his choice to choose me as his person.
Rest in peace good buddy! The whole family misses you dearly. :)
Some of Bison's more rebellious parts was him digging holes... dude! that shit would send me from a 3 or 4 straight to an 11! HOT!!!
(man I'm a total nerd with my pictures!!!) So in honor of my shop buddy, here's the prettiest picture of a hole in the ground. Love you buddy! Hope you have a grateful weekend - as sad as I am, I am okay. We all are still a mess.. :'( As ugly as it sounds, it was a privilege to have to do the Dad thing and make the call to save a buddy from harder times... so I get to share my day with my shop buddy.. RIP Bison. To all the Fathers out there, even to furbabies, happy Fathers day