One of the people who I walk dogs with at Abandoned Pet Rescue lost his little Yorkie Monday morning. He had adopted it from the shelter about the same time I started volunteering there. Scooter was already pretty old and had health problems when Dean took him home, but none the less he fell in love with that tiny dog.
I first started walking dogs at Abandoned Pet Rescue almost six years ago. I'll never forget my first tour of the big dog kennels. There was the smell. Imagine wet dog fur mixed with shit and bleach, oh and dead rat. Apparently there was a dead rat somewhere in the building that day. But I got past the smell, and met all the dogs one at a time as I passed each kennel. Lots of wagging tails, barking, and pleading eyes that said take me out of here. That is until I got to the last kennel. The dog inside did not wag his tail, he did not bark at me, he did not give me pleading eyes. What I got was a low, deep growl from a large bear like dog, and as I got closer the growl grew into a loud snarl. When I got as close as I dared, the dog's eyes rolled back in his head and he lunged towards me. That was the first time I met Ace. Ace had a habit of making people poop their pants. He was extremely protective of the twenty four square feet he called home. Ace was rescued from an abusive situation where the woman who owned him beat him to make him mean. She was successful, at least in making him mean. Over a period of time Ace got used to seeing me and only tried to tear me to shreds if I actually touched his cage. One day one of the employees suggested I walk him. "Don't worry, if you go in his cage with a leash he'll let you put it on him." What he didn't tell me was how hard it would be to take the leash off of Ace when I was done walking him. I found that coming prepared with a cookie distracted him while I slipped the leash off over his head. That is the only time Ace bit me, when I tried to take the leash off of him once without the cookie. I've been walking that guy now for more than five years. I came to love that crazy bastard, even when he bit me I knew it was my fault. He turned out to be the easiest dog to walk at APR, very mellow once he got to know you. Over these years I watched Ace grow old and somewhat feeble. So feeble that after walking him last Monday, I stopped in again on Tuesday just to be sure he was okay. He was. Unfortunately that didn't last. Ace died yesterday morning, just a couple of hours before dog walking was to start.
I understand why people like to believe in an afterlife, in heaven. It quiets the voice in your head that keeps reminding you of your mortality. Just this once I'd like to believe in heaven, doggy heaven, where that big bear of a dog Ace is romping free with tiny little Scooter. Finally happy and out of the kennel forever.