Monday, August 27, 2012

One of the Family

As fall creeps in and shuts the door on the sun-drenched (well, mostly except for the fog) activities and fun of the summer, I'm left feeling a little sadder than I usually am at this time of year.  Because this summer, we had to say goodbye to our lovable, adorable, precious English Mastiff, Dexter.

Dexter was 9-years old, which is pretty old for a Mastiff.  He came to us from Texas when he was 8-weeks old, a clumsy pup who already weighed in at 40 pounds!  That first year, he got most of his height and then he started filling in - and boy, did he fill in!  In his prime, Dexter weighed 210 lbs.  Even at the end, he was still 185 lbs. with a beautiful fawn coat, although his black mask was full of gray and his eyesight and hearing were fading fast.

Dexter was not our first Mastiff; he was our fourth.  What can I say?  My husband loves big dogs.  I wasn't a dog person at all when I met my husband. I had cats, but my husband is allergic to cats (so he claims!).  But it's easy to fall in love with a Mastiff.  They're called "gentle giants" because they're so laid back.  They're great watchdogs though because they have an enormous bark, and of course, they're huge.  Their favorite thing to do (besides eating and sleeping) is to lean against you.  If you stand next to a Mastiff, chances are he'll lean against your leg or put his paw on top of your foot - ouch!  (That's our big boy below at about 200 lbs.)



Having a Mastiff in the house is sort of like keeping a small horse indoors.  I'm pretty sure our house smelled like dog most of the time, and we had to sweep up the family room floor daily where Dexter had his bed and where we hooked him up on a long leash.  He was NOT allowed the run of the house, since that would be akin to letting loose a bull in a china shop.  And they drool.  Mastiffs have large heads and jowls - and really big teeth.

We all cried for a good two days (I thought my 16-year old son's heart would break), and then my husband's way of dealing with his grief is...get another Mastiff.  Apparently, that's my older son's M.O. too because he keeps asking when we're going to get another puppy.  My husband is already in contact with a  breeder, and her dog just had 13 puppies!  (That's Dexter below at 8 or 9 weeks - honestly, who could resist that puppy face?)



I'm ready to take a dog break and give myself time to get over the loss of Dexter.  While cleaning off the last bit of drool from the blinds above Dexter's bed the other week, I have to admit I thought..."I'd take all the drool back if Dexter could just be part of our family again."  :(  Of course, he'll always be a part of our family because that's what pets do - they love us and make us laugh and bring our families closer together and stay in our hearts forever.

Do you have a pet that's one of the family?  Are you a dog person, a cat person, or something more exotic?  Leave a comment today for a chance to win one of my Guardians of Coral Cove books:  Obsession, Eyewitness, or Intuition.

Carol
www.carolericson.com
Where Romance Flirts With Danger

50 comments:

  1. I am a dog person. One of my dogs died a few months ago, he was 8 years so I know the feeling. I can't tell you how many times I have to use a lint roller on my suits because of the dog hair but at the end of the day I say they are family.

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  2. I like both dogs & cats. I also like elephants, but sometimes you just have to draw a line.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  3. So sorry for your loss Carol. I definitely feel your pain. We lost our second dog in April. Pepper was 12 years old and I'd had her since she was 3 weeks (separated too early from her mother, she fit in the palms of my hands when I fed her). Honestly, I waited a full two weeks before finding Tex and 2 additional days finding Dallas. They're like peas in a pod. So I guess I'm with the men in your family about jumping right back in. I needed that hole in my heart filled quickly.

    ~Angi

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  4. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraAugust 27, 2012 at 8:29 AM

    What a pretty dog. I am sorry for everyone's loss. Unfortunately I totally understand everyone's feeling of loss. Back in July my black cat Sirius got outside. We don't know what happened while he was out but I found him later that day took him to the vet. I was back at the vet about a day later to drop him off because he didn't look good. I got a call from the vet a few hours later that they did all they could but he died. :( He was only a little over a year old. I had gotten him after having to put down my calico last June. I think the worst part was that weekend my gray tabby Nymph started to cry for him. I was so sad. I am more of a cat person but we also have a black terrier mix named Trixie. Both Trixie and Nymph we rescued off the streets. I haven't gotten another cat yet. My brother is getting married and I am looking for a car so I don't know if or when I will get another cat.

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  5. I'm a dog person too. Our dog was a neighborhood stray that adopted us. We tried to find her family, but it was meant to be that she stayed with us. She is so spoiled now that we joke with her that she chose well when she knocked on our door. :)

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  6. Avi J, so sorry for your loss. Yes, you can always tell the people who have pets by the dog or cat hair they proudly wear on their clothes!

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  7. Marybelle, shh, don't tell my husband about the elephants, he just might want to fit one in the backyard!

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  8. Aww, Angi, sorry for your loss. I'm tempted to fill the void with another puppy too, but my husband did that to me before and I never bonded with the new dog.

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    1. How does a pup from Texas get to California? Maybe you can come pick it out and help the bonding process.

      ~Angi
      (Woot...I'd drive to see you do that !)

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    2. LOL - he flew. They sedated him for the three hour flight, but he was wide awake when we picked him up at the "precious cargo" area! He must've thought - whoa, I fall asleep and wind up in the land of palm trees and beaches!

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  9. Laura, sorry about Sirius. I found my neighbors' cat in our yard one morning. I don't know what happened to him; maybe he got hit by a car. It's sad when your other pets miss their companion.

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  10. Susan, it sounds like your dog found you!

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  11. Aw, love to see pictures of Dexter. He was cute as a puppy and massive as a full grown dog. I'm sorry you miss him so much. If the breeder your hubby contacted just had a litter of pups, it appears you have about 8 weeks--or will dh give you a bit more time this time around?

    I hope you get what you need.

    We're cat people. And last summer my daughter rescued a baby bird from the barn and that little guy stole our hearts in the two months we had him. We cried for 2 days when he was gone, too. I'm not looking forward to the day I lose my horse after 27 years.

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  12. Gotta say I hate post like these. All the memories that come back. This is why I choose cats, I can't imagine going through this every 9-12 years with dogs. My cats average 18 and the youngest to die was 15 from probable liver cancer and it really destroyed me because I wasn't expecting it. I had three senior cats, including the 15 year old, and they died within 2 years of each other. That was tough doing the euthanasia thing so many times so close together. I always second guess myself.

    Yep, all of our pets, usually cats since we're apt. dwellers, are family members. When we did have a dog when I was a child, my mother had to look long and hard for an apt. complex that would accept her. My aunt told her to give up the dog, but that was not an option. We consider them a life time responsibility and I feel some people don't make as much of an effort as they could before giving up or abandoning pets when times get tight.

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  13. What a face! So adorable! It's so devastating when they go, but they give so much while they're with us.

    xoxo,
    Wendi Darlin
    Mother to Lappy (Sheltie), Luna (Cat), and Sparky, the wiener dog. My first two babies were Kippy & Cori (Shelties), and they're still missed.

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  14. Would love to have a dog but hubby says no. There is a cat that accept us as family. Gizmo. She will lick my feet, then bight them. LOL. Also have a rabbit, Twister, who loves to thumb at us if she wants more attention.
    My most exotic pet was as a child when I had a raccoon and ground squirrel.

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  15. Stacey, I remember that little bird! Don't know what we're going to do about the pups yet - they're in San Diego, so not so far from home...

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  16. Anne, you're right! Once you have a pet, it's a lifetime responsibility. Wow, your cats are long-lived. My last two cats each lived to 13. Always hard to say goodbye.

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  17. Wendi, they do give us so much. Sounds like you have a houseful!

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  18. Hugs on losing Dexter, Carol. It's hard to let a wonderful spirit like that go when they've been a part of the family for so long (and grew up with your son, it sounds like). I know that was one reason it was so hard when we had to put down our Maxie after battling a brain tumor for a year--she and our son grew up together and were so close.

    Sounds like another big puppy is going to find his/her way into your heart, too. Take care.

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    1. Thanks for dropping by, Julie, and the condolences. Yes, it's even harder when they are "puppies" together

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  19. Brenda, yep, my hubby is the same about cats - no way. That must have been a tame raccoon because they can get feisty!

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  20. So sorry about Dexter. I've been in your shoes when my beloved border collie died a couple of years ago. When she died, hubby said, let's just be a one dog family. (We also had a retriever.) That lasted about a month. I was so lonely. I sent him to Memphis to the Border Collie Rescue organization to get the puppy I found on petfinder.com (THE most dangerous website! LOL) I didn't think any dog could replace my border collie in my heart. Wrong. This puppy totally changed our lives and my world. Best decision I ever made. DO get another one! You won't regret it.

    Like you, I had cats until I married my *cat-allergic* hubby. Since then, it's been dogs. Also like you, I'm a tad suspicious about his allergy.

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  21. Cynthia, I've heard border collies are really smart dogs. Yes, I know another Mastiff puppy is in my future; my husband is already showing me pics to break down my resistance...

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  22. So sorry to hear about Dexter, Carol. Our cat, Amiga, is like that for our family. She has been part of our family for16 years now and I don't know what we'll do when she leaves us. All my kids are grown and out of the house. They always ask a out her when they call. She follows my husband and I Round the house (although slowly these days!) and is like one of our children.

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    1. You're so lucky to have had Amiga in your lives for 16 years, Valri. It's sweet that your kids still keep tabs on her.

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  23. What a lovely tribute. Thank you for sharing it and Dexter with us. Pets are so important to us.

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    1. Thanks, Barbara. Before we had kids, my husband used to have one of our Mastiffs enrolled in a programe called "Create a Smile" where he took our dog to children's and veterans hospitals.

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  24. I'm an animal person, Carol. I love all animals. We have two cats, Midnight and Dory. I saw a baby fawn recently and fell in love with it. Smile.

    Dexter was a cutie as a pup, and he matured handsomely. It's heartbreaking to lose a pet.

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    1. Hey, Sandy, thanks for stopping by and your kind words about Dexter. Hmm, can you adopt a fawn?

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  25. Aw sorry to hear about Dexter. I like big dogs too having grown up with a St. Bernard. We have taken in a few rescues over the years and mostly we go to Dalmatians or Border Collies or crosses of those breeds. Our old Dalmatian who was a former puppy mill dog that was picked up in LA passed away last month. My husband's answer is also to find another Dalmatian and last week a Dalmatian who came from Mexico to Seattle has made it to our house. She's 11 months old and our first deaf dog but she needed a home and so here she is.

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    1. Good luck with your new Dalmation, Cheryl. So wonderful of you to give her a home.

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  26. You have my greatest sympathy Carol. It's so hard to lose a pet but they bring such great joy to us. We are a cat house hold, right now we have Saxon, a 15 year old female and Dash,a 5 year old male. A year and a half ago we had to say goodbye to Amber, a 13 year old female who had kidney failure. We got our first cat about a year after we got married and the longest we have been without at least one cat in our household in 44 years is just over six months. Saxon gets twice a day medication put on her ear for thyroid problems but we're hoping she hangs on for a bit longer.

    We do have a lot of dogs and a few cats in our extended family. The dogs range from German Shepherds to a 4 pound Shorkie, a Shih Tzu Yorkshire terrier cross. None are as big as your Mastiff but all are loveable.



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    1. Kaelee, it's amazing what we'll do to keep our pets going in their golden years. Dexter was already on two pain meds and the vet said we could put him on a third to keep him going for a few more months, but we felt it was time to say goodbye and let him pass with some dignity.

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  27. So sorry for your loss. Pets are so a part of the family and we have had several that were extra special. We live on a farm with a short driveway onto the place. We had a collie mix that used to herd our 3 year old daughter back up the lane. She was a real escape artist and he would bring her back. We had a cat that took care of me when I was bedridden for a couple of weeks. He would come to check on me. If I opened my eyes while he was standing tall by the siude of the bed, he would scamper away. If not he would jump on the bed and bat at my face until I looked at him. Our most recent pet was a mixed breed dog. She was beautiful and while she loved to chase squirrels she would leave the birds on the feeders alone which was a good thing because she would run right up a tree after a squirrel. She died earlier this year and while we miss her we have no plans for another. The birds are our pets right now. We have several feeders up and it is fun to get to know the individual habits of our pals. We have a cardinal family who are very entertaining right now and a blue jay who does not have the usual bluejay markings on his head and no crest. He is very strange looking. The birds are such busy little things that we enjoy them year round.

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    1. Lilsis, when we take care of our pets, they take care of us! That's so cute your dog herded your little escape artist! :)

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  28. Carol, I am so sorry to hear of your loss.

    I have a 12 1/2 year old West Highland Terrier. For the last 3 1/2 years she has been a diabetic. She receives two injections a day. Since I have no children, she is like a daughter to me. She is the love of my life. I have had her since she was a puppy.

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    1. BW, sounds like you have a wonderful friendship with your terrier. My friend, Linda O. Johnston, writes mysteries with terriers!

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  29. Hugs on your loss. Those furry creatures have a way of filling up our hearts and it's really tough when we lose them.

    I don't know if I'd classify myself as a cat person or a dog person. I've had both and loved them both. I've also had fish and toads. I'd guess you'd say I'm an animal lover.

    But if I had to make a choice I guess it'd be cats. I love their independence and their catittude. :-)

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer. Have you seen the two pet "diaries" from the point of view of a dog and then a cat? Hilarious. Describes the differences between the two so clearly. As I've told my husband, cats are selective in who they like; dogs generally just like anyone who scratches behind their ears!

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  30. So sorry for your loss. We don't have any pets.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, bn. You definitely risk heartache when you choose to let a pet into your life.

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  31. Sorry to hear about Dexter, Carol. We don't have any pets. The only pets I've ever had were fish, betas and tetras.

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    1. Jane, fish count! I had guppies when I was a kid, and don't tell anyone but I also had a pet earwig named "Easy" for a week or two.

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  32. Sad sad news when someone loses such a wonderful part of their family. We have always had lots of pets and live long and wonderful lives... it hurts though when they pass. We have had 3 of ours pass on in the last 4 years, but they each lived to be over 12 years old. Our cat was 17 when she passed. We love animals and have enjoyed many types... birds, dogs, cats, lizards, fish, rodents, etc. as members of our family.

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    1. Wow, Colleen, 17 is old even for a cat! That's the downside of Mastiffs or any "giant breed," their average lifespan is about 8 - 10. When you have them, you just have to accept that you're going to have to say goodbye to them sooner rather than later.

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  33. Carol,

    I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is so hard. I already have these 3 books, so no need to enter me. After our Shelties passed away at 11 and almost 15 years, we now have 3 cats.

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    1. Thanks, Tammy. Having three cats is a handful!

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  34. Had a chihuahua terrier in elementary school; loved it to bits and enjoyed riding my bike around town with her in the carrier (on top of a blanket so her paws didn't go through). Wouldn't attempt that today, but times were different in the seventies.

    My parents got another chihuahua terrier after I moved out; it shook its entire life and I honestly couldn't find a lot of endearing features. My new husband was allergic to cat/dog fur, and this dog shed white fur everywhere, so we didn't push to get closer to her.

    In the last five plus years, my husband's allergies have improved so now he can handle most dogs' fur/dander. We dog sat "Austin" for months at a time for a few years until he died in May/11, just shy of his 14th birthday. He was one smart golden retriever and we miss him still.

    We dog sat another friend's smaller mixed breed dog after that, and she was good around here too. Alas, she is 13 years old now, so I don't know if we'll dog sit her again.

    Last month, we dog sat yet another friend's golden retriever, "Ruby". Ruby was 11 months old and another joy to have around.

    I'm thinking I'm a "big dog person" - or at least I lean towards goldens - probably because the ones I have met have seemed quite intelligent and they rarely bark. There are worse things in life, LOL!

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    1. Laney, that's a great way to get your "dog fix" by pet sitting!

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