Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Doc Holliday: December 2000 to September 2008

My sister V bought "Doc" from a pet store in March 2001. V bought Doc in the early stages of her relationship with her boyfriend (now husband) "D." The puppy was named after D's favorite Tombstone character, Doc Holliday.

When V bought Doc, he was a very cute black Lab/German Shepherd mix puppy, not more than 3 months old, who had been returned to the store by a previous owner. . . a not-so-bright fellow who thought keeping the puppy caged while he worked 15+ hours a day was a good idea. Not surprisingly, Doc had attempted to escape from the plastic kennel in which he was confined. I often ribbed V about her dog being a "return."

V's "Li'l Pup" lived with D at first because V's roommate at the time was allergic to dogs. (Ironically, the roommate later married a man who owned a dog, but that's another post.) Of course, V saw Doc regularly while he lived with D, and V moved in with D in May.

D had a dog of his own when they met (still does), and our family had dogs throughout our childhood, but Doc was the first dog who was V's own dog. Despite his separation anxiety and his typical canine bad habit of chewing up many, many things, including shoes, furniture, and window sills, V loved Doc almost as if he were her own child.

In return, Doc was very loyal to V. He followed V from room to room whenever she was at home and slept with her in the bed at night: no mean feat for a dog who was nearly 100 pounds full-grown! Doc liked few things better than being near his "mom" and getting petted.

Doc was a very energetic dog. Doc had that joie de vive that, though not universal, is unique to dogs. Every day was a pleasure and an opportunity for new adventures for him.

Doc loved life and lived it to its doggy fullest. He loved water, so he loved accompanying V and her family on trips to their Outer Banks beach house. When he visited my mom in Ohio, he fearlessly jumped off the boat dock into the lake near her home and swam until exhausted.

Doc could chase a frisbee for hours. On the day my sister graduated from law school in May 2002, he did just that, keeping every guest who was willing to throw the frisbee occupied throughout her graduation party. At one point in his life, his obsession with the frisbee grew to the point where the frisbee could not be referred to by its real name unless the person mentioning it wanted to go outside and throw it for him. You couldn't even spell out f-r-i-s-b-e-e because he knew what that meant, too!

Doc also loved his toys. Each day when his people returned home, he would greet them with a toy in his mouth. . . or a shoe, if no toy was handy. Once my nephew Rowan arrived, Doc thought that Rowan's stuffed toys were his, too, and could often be found carrying them in his mouth.

As Rowan has begun to feed himself, Doc would often station himself near his high chair so that he'd be ready to receive the tidbits of food that Rowan would either drop or throw down for him. Like all dogs, Doc liked people food. He was especially fond of Chik Fil A chicken nuggets, and V often bought them for him as a treat.

Our father says he will remember the way that Doc used to stare at you intently when he wanted your attention and the endearing way he had of getting you to let him out. He would jump around excitedly until you said the word "out" or "outside." Then he would run halfway to the door and back until he was sure that you were really going to let him out.

In 2006, Doc had to undergo surgery on both his back legs within several months due to degenerative arthritis. The surgeries, akin to total knee replacements in humans, each required 6-8 weeks of recovery during which Doc could not run or jump. In addition to the pain and temporary limitations on Doc's activity, the surgeries were expensive: each cost nearly $3000. Yet even after having gone through the first surgery, knowing the expense, V didn't hesitate to get the second surgery when Doc needed it later the same year. (After the second surgery, in an homage to the 70's TV show "The Six Million Dollar Man," V took to referring to Doc jokingly--but accurately--as "the Six Thousand Dollar Dog.")

Both Doc's surgeries were successful, and after recovering from them, he was once again able to run and jump. V has noticed over the past months, though, that activities that used to come easily to Doc have been getting more difficult for him: he has a harder time getting on and off the bed and often lets out an audible grunt on landing. Doc's vet told them a few weeks ago that the arthritis in Doc's legs continues to progress in spite of his surgeries and that they could expect him to be in an increasing amount of pain.

Like the loss of any cherished friend, Doc's passing will leave a void for V that will not easily--if ever--be filled.


Valerie said...

That was wonderful. Thank you so much. You captured my Li'l Pup so well. He was the best dog ever.

Land family said...

So sorry for the loss of such a beloved pet to your family. :(

My college cat passed away in March of 07. He had a heart murmur and a thyroid condition which required radioactive iodine treatment. He was thereafter referred to as the six milliion dollar cat!

Those pets are just the sweetest little loving companions. Losing them is never easy and their time with us is never enough. :(

Rona said...

I just gave Hemi a super huge hug.