Dog Days of Our Life (and death)

Cpt. Augustus McCrae

“It’s Gus.”

That’s all my wife had to say through the phone to let me know that something tragic had happened to one of my closest friends.

My dog.

My running buddy.

My trusted companion.

He was gone – the result of a blameless accident on a country road, Cpt. Augustus McCrae was hit in the head by vehicle and killed instantly.

I can’t verify if it was blameless and/or that he actually did die instantly, but I have to tell myself that to help dull the pain I feel in my heart. It’s a pain that I’ve never felt before, and I’ll do anything to make it stop – even for a fleeting moment.

The hurt I feel stings like fire, which explains why the tears that stream down my face are warm. It is deep, too, which is why the tears flow uncontrollably once they start.

I try to suppress it, but it’s futile. This accident created an instantaneous void in my soul.

I’m sad beyond words.

– – –

The tears start when I think about the fact that I should have been there.

Gus was sent to live on the farm, while we sold our house in Fort Worth. I made the 60-mile trek once or twice a week to see him, but he was officially a “farm dog.” He was just waiting on the rest of the family to make the move to the country.

I feel guilty for not keeping him close. There is a chance he could have still been exploring the countryside that morning OR he could have been staring at me through the window, eagerly anticipating table scraps from breakfast.

Tears.

– – –

I start to cry when I think about how much that dog loved me. For all my faults and shortcomings, Cpt. Augustus McCrae didn’t care. He knew I wasn’t perfect, and he loved me just the same. (I think about his tail wagging so hard that his whole body shook – simply because I took half a second to scratch him behind the ears.)

He loved me even though I was tough on him, and the fact that I referred to him as the “dumbest smart dog in the world” on a regular basis.

I think back to the wonderfully great book “Marley and Me.” The author writes heartfelt narrative about saying goodbye to Marley:

“I know you’ve heard me call you the worst dog in the world, but it’s not true. You’re a great dog, Marley. I probably didn’t tell you that enough, but you are a great dog. I love you.”

I start sobbing when I think about the fact that I’ll never get to have that conversation with Gus. I can only pray that he knew it.

Tears.

– – –

I get upset when I think about telling my 3-year-old son that Gus is gone. I can’t even write anymore about that, because the pain is overwhelming.

I will say that after 3 years, they were finally becoming buddies. Gus got over the fact that Crash was stealing a lot of the attention, and Crash considered him his brother.

Tears.

– – –

I’ve never handled death well, because it makes my brain kick into overdrive, and I start thinking about death a lot. I’m the guy who is hysterical at a funeral, mainly because I’m worried about losing other people that I love. Gus’ death – and all the pain associated with it – makes me ask: “If this hurts so badly, what if something happened to…”

STOP!

It’s a demoralizing spiral of worry, grief and pessimism.

When I pray about this, I don’t ask God to ease my pain – I think that’s part of the healing process. I ask Him to take those thoughts away.

Prayers.

– – –

Confession: I haven’t done myself a lot of favors since I got the bad news.

I’ve scrolled through Gus’ photos on my Facebook account.

Lots of tears.

I found some of his tags that I had hidden in a drawer and squeezed them tight in my hand.

More tears.

Then I re-read a blog post that I wrote in 2008 to celebrate Cpt. Augustus McCrae’s first birthday.

Sobbing mess.

To publicly express my love and affection for a wonderfully great dog – a true friend and companion – I HAD to share this slideshow and post:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CAPTAIN AUGUSTUS McCRAE!

That’s right…my puppy is one year old today (Sept. 22, 2008).

I thought this would be a tremendous opportunity to dedicate a blog post just to him.

First, I want to share a montage of photos that help capture his neurotic first year of life. To make the gallery a little more interesting, I added insets to each picture. The insets depict random items that he has eaten over the last year.

Again, these are items he has actually consumed. I did NOT include things he has chewed up. Here are some of those items:

• 10 water bottles
• 2 pair of shoes (still wearable)
• 1 window ledge
• 2 baseboards
• 2 Texas Rangers caps
(one able to be repaired)
• 1 bra
• 6 pairs of panties
(including a pair of Tanya’s mom’s underwear)
• 4 rolls of toilet paper
• 1 two-by-four

Here is the photo gallery, with his random fare, and a little commentary on each one: (WARNING: Since we are talking about unorthodox items in his stomach, there is some discriptive discussion about how they got out.)

I recently finished the book “Marley and Me.” It is a tremendous story by John Grogan. The subtitle of his bestseller is: “Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog.”

After seeing the photo gallery, you probably think I can relate.

Well … you’re right.

There are times when I think Gus is the most idiotic, stubborn, destructive, and annoying dog in the history of canines.

But there is one part of the book that I can relate to a lot more.

During a tough visit to the vet’s office late in Marley’s wonderful life, John (the author) leaned down and said:

“I know you’ve heard me call you the worst dog in the world, but it’s not true. You’re a great dog, Marley. I probably didn’t tell you that enough, but you are a great dog. I love you.”

Gus is the poster dog for neurotic pets, but I wouldn’t have him any other way.

I love him. He’s a GREAT dog.

So now that we’ve gotten the “bad” things out of the way, let’s focus on the good.

They always say when you scold your dog, you should reward them with twice as much affection when they do something right. I had 17 photos depicting his “bad dog eating habits”… here are 38 “atta boys” or “good boys” to show you how Gus has changed my life by grabbing a piece of my heart.

1. I love the fact he slept on my chest the first night he stayed at the house.

2. I love the fact he knows what to do when I say, “kennel up.”

3. I love how he goes into full-body wiggle after he gets a bath.

4. I love that he understands the concept of ringing the bell on our back door when he wants and/or needs to go outside.

5. I love how he looks up  at me with his tongue hanging out during a run – it’s like he’s asking, “How am I doing, daddy?”

6. I love the fact that he is starting to understand “heal” (with the help of a choke collar AND the threat of getting a shock collar.)

7. I love how he has four main places where he likes to sleep at night –

I also love the fact that one of those four places is NOT our bed.8. I love the fact that he has already experimented with drugs. (See “Ritalin” slide)9. I love the fact that he is infatuated with women’s underwear.10. I love the fact that he can hang with me on runs up to six miles.11. I love how he can catch a Frisbee in his mouth.12. I love how I always know where he is when we’re at the dog park – in the shade or next to a cute girl.

13. I love how he’ll lay across my lap with his front legs while I’m sitting in front of the computer. (He just likes 30-second scratches from time to time over the course of the day.)

14. I love how everyone at the vet’s office knows him. (Because he’s been there so many times; some friends and family members refer to him as the Millionaire Dollar Puppy.)

15. I love how he can sense when we’re about leave the house without him (He actually pouts and gives you a look, “are you guys sure I can’t go.”)

16. I love watching him stick his head out the car window. (You can tell he genuinely loves it.)

17. I love how he rolls around on the ground – like he’s on fire – when I start putting on my running shoes.

18. I love he can play fetch (until he gets distracted by a bee or the wind).

19. I love the fact that he only pooped in the house about five times before he realized he was supposed to go outside. (I can’t say we’ve had the same success when he’s spending the night with his cousin, Maverick, or at my parents.)


20. I love the fact that his favorite food is bacon.
21. I love how he gets a “farm hangover.” (After running himself ragged at my parent’s house, he goes into a coma for the next 36 hours.)22. I love that he gets his feelings hurt when I don’t take him on a run. (He’s usually waiting for me by the door when I get back – his leash close by.)23. I love the look he gives me when I let him have a raw-hide chew treat. (“Are you sure, daddy?”)24. I love the fact he knows how to sit, shake hands, and lay down on command.

25. I love how his name, Captain Augustus McCrae, has so many different variations: Gus, Augustus, Gussy, Gusser, Gussaroo, Gustovo, Dumb Ass, etc.


26. I love the fact that he has NEVER met a stranger.
(He will greet anyone with a friendly crotch sniff or toe lick.)27. I love how he finally learned how to lift his leg and pee like a boy dog.28. I love how he licks the dirty dish dishes as we load them in the dishwasher. (I also love that he knows, understands and respects when the dishes are clean.)29. I love when I say “sit” you can actually see his wheels turning in his head before he actually sits down.30. I love he comes running when he hears the icemaker. (He LOVES ice – he thinks they’re frozen rocks.)


31. I love the fact that our mailman, FedEx guy, UPS driver, and meter readers are VERY aware that he lives here.
32. I love he puts his face right in front of the air condition vent when we’re riding in the truck.33. I love how he ALWAYS keeps me or Tanya company when we’re making dinner. He NEVER leaves our side when we’re handling food in the kitchen.34. I love it when he lets me scratch his belly.35. I love it when people stop us on the street and say, “He’s such a beautiful dog.”

36. I love how he uses his nose to flip my arm away from the keyboard when he wants some attention. (It’s like he’s saying, “Daddy, you’ve been working too much. Let’s play.”)


37. I love how he doesn’t care that I had a bad day.
38. I love to see his tail wag. (“Money will buy you a fine dog, but only love can make it wag its tail.”)I love you, Gusser.Happy Birthday. (Only two more years – 14 puppy years – until we can share a Shiner Bock.)

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4 Comments on “Dog Days of Our Life (and death)”

  1. Dave Quinn
    May 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    Drew so sorry for your loss. Gus was a great dog and we loved hanging out with him on the farm.

  2. JoJo
    May 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    I’m so sorry, Drew! Same thing happened to my little Leo a few years ago. That little pug snored like a grown man for 12 years. I had to wear earplugs to get a decent night’s sleep. I never knew I would miss that. The fact that I didn’t sob through your entire post means time heals even the deepest of emotional wounds. Hang in there, my friend.

    • Drew Myers
      May 3, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

      Thanks, Girl! I appreciate your kind words. I hope you’re doing wonderfully great!

      DM

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