Its been a while since I have posted. Much in life has changed since my last posting. There have been many adventures, lots of memories and a loss along the way. It is to my dismay that I write this somber dedication to an old friend who passed this week. He was at the beginning of our little family and saw it through its exponential growth. To my dearest furry pal, Carl you were well loved and are greatly missed.
When you get the experience to share life with a four legged friend, you know life at its best. Carl came into my wife’s and I lives shortly after we were married. I was in the military and our first unit was in Kodiak Alaska. Being an adventurous couple we decided that to start our little family off on our new island adventure, we needed a pal to hang out with. We were on a waiting list for the local animal shelter for a batch of puppies that were being flown in from another island off Kodiak.
Carl showed up in normal fashion, right when we least expected. We had big plans of picking out our pooch together. Unfortunately life has its unexpected moments, Carl was no different. As the movers were unloading our belonging into our small condo like housing, we got a call to come and pick out our fur baby. I sent my wife along with strict orders to pick out a good one.
It was love at first snooze with Carl. My wife picked him up, from what was left after everyone else, and immediately fell asleep in her arms. It was over from the beginning. I remember him coming home, a very cute puppy. Little did we know what this little black lab would turn into later, and how much he would impact lives beyond our family.
Some memorable puppy tales come in destructive memories. Carl was a force to be reckoned with from the moment he came home. Cute he was, but after a couple weeks of loud whining and barking, our little pup finally settled in. Little did we know that we adopted a Houdini dog. Carl was an expert in being released from any confinement.
He started out in our little spare bathroom by climbing over any and all baby gate barricades I could erect. It was not long after that I had the bright idea to put Carl in the basement under the stairs. I was able to cage in the area and finally have a home for Carl when we were away at work. He would be warm, dry and comfy until we came home. Or so we thought. There were many a day I would return to a destroyed fenced in wall and a puppy happily wagging his tail for me when I came in the house.
One of the oddest moments from the basement came in the form of a poop that was almost larger than the pup who produced it. I still swear to this day that a bear broke into our house just to poop in the basement and then leave. It was truly amazing, but then again Carl was just getting warmed up. It wasn’t till we moved out of our first home that i realized that carl had put numerous holes in the drywall where his bed was. Never did hear back from housing about my horrible patch work. Not the only hole in that house I had to patch up from him.
Aside from the destruction from being confined, Carl was an expert in devouring all things non-food related. He literally ate an entire beach towel once. I was finding poop shaped fabric in the back yard for days. In other amazing feats he ate part of a comforter and the side of a couch to show his discontent with Annie returning to work after being sick for a few days at home.
Carl was always a people dog, any one who came in the door he immediately leapt into there arms and licked them clean. It wasn’t until he was much older did he stop doing this, mainly due to age and his later rotund size. He never did like the backyard much, only to do his business then return quickly for attention from his people. If he was not let in immediately he made sure the whole neighborhood heard his displeasure with us.
When we did start our little no furry type family Carl was there to love on our babies like they were his own. He loved to sniff and lick our babies as they grew up. He was one of the gang no matter what, and no matter if he wanted to or not. Carl was the most patient and gentle dog I have ever met. No matter the pouncing, poking, biting or other abuse our children put him through, he was just happy to be loved on. Loved he was by all.
Another benefit to children was the delectable delights that they left behind for him, both food and non. Carl grew in his years with us, topping out around 110lbs at one point. He was the typical fat and lazyish lab in the end. He came by it honestly that last few years. Our kids love to feed him extra portions from the dinner table as well as his own food. He was never lacking for a meal in our house. Unfortunately his appetite was never satisfied and he had a knack for the trash can. Many a diaper, particularly the fully loaded type, disappeared and they came back out in the back yard. Never said he had a sensitive pallet.
Several times we have had to take Carl into the doctor to get the contents of his stomach evacuated. One particular moment he ate a number of feminine hygiene products and they swelled up in his stomach. When we took him in the nurses would not allow the doctor to see what had happened, but invited my wife back for a viewing. They said it was like nothing they had ever seen come out of a dog. That’s our Carl, go big or go home.
In the end his extra apatite was his undoing. Carl found his last meal as a diaper that was to good to pass up. We knew something was wrong after three days of him not eating and puking up only water all over. I took him in and the doc gave us the grave news. It had lodged in his stomach and there was nothing to do for it except a very expensive surgery. I knew something was up when I took him in and just felt that this was going to be our last few moments together, unfortunately my feeling was correct.
The decision was not one that was easy or light. Carl had been for a year or so having hip troubles and had large nodules developing under his skin. He was going to turn 11 this year as was turning grey all over. While he could have possible survived the recovery of the surgery, his quality of life had been in decline for some time. We had to make the difficult decision to have him put to sleep. The doctor tried all that he could, but it was to no avail in the end.
The next day the doctor came over to our house and together was loved on carl one last time and then set him free from his pain. I had been shaken after the initial news, but watching him pass was one of the most shaking things I have gone through in life. I was watching a best friend die in front of me. I could hear my wife behind me trying hard to hold it together, but I was not able to for long either. It was over quickly and Carl was gone. His body relaxed and I could tell he was no longer in pain in any form. The doc and I moved carl to the garage and after he left I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I buried my face in that old scruf of Carl and wept for a long time. I felt so much that I couldn’t just keep it in any more. I had lost pets before, but this one was different, this one was a furry sole mate. One I will be forever grateful for knowing.
It is interesting how I know reflect on that day and the years I had with Carl. I am currently reading the book Stay. It is about another labs life and how the owners loved and lost there beloved dog. It is written however from how much they learned about Gods love through that dog. I have had the same reflections after loosing Carl. He was a being that loved no matter what, and at all times. Carl lived for the moment, every moment. Carl even had a sense of when things in life were not good and was there to lend a therapeutic ear for scratching. That dog and I had many therapy sessions over the past almost 11 years.
He wasn’t much for training, but taught us all many a lesson in life. He didn’t do to well at fetch, but caught our hearts and never let go. He wasn’t the greatest guard dog either, but knew how to save us when we needed it. Carl was more than a dog; he was one of our family.
Carl buddy, you will be missed. I loved you so much and am forever grateful for what you showed me and loved me in this life. God knew what he was doing when he put you in our lives. Rest peacefully and go chase after some squirrels in heaven.
Love you Carl,