Saturday April 30 , 2016
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Remembering Dexter

I try not to use this space for personal things, but today is different.  I have been in California for the past week and just got home this afternoon.  During my time away, my wife Char had to deal with a very difficult situation concerning one of our many canine companions.  Dexter, her favorite, passed this morning after a short but intense battle with rapid onset diabetes and complications that cascaded with each passing day.  Dexter held a special place with us and especially with Char.

Four years ago, we got a call one evening from the daughter of one of my faculty colleagues.  Her parents are great animal lovers and had mentioned often our menagerie to her.  The daughter called to ask if we could foster a dog that had followed one of her girlfriends home during a jog.  After a short consultation, Char and I decided we would take the dog in to see if we could find it a home.  Of course, we have never been able to take a dog anywhere after it has come home with us.  The next afternoon, the girls brought the little dog in for me to examine then take home.  He was a Chihuahua mix--a long hair with a lot of terrier.  He was also one of the cutest dogs I had ever seen.  He reminded me of our border collie mix--just beautiful.  The little pup did not want to leave the girls.  As we were to find out, he had quite a thing for the ladies.  He was a real charmer.  Because the girls conspired at our local Dairy Queen, Dexter became the DQ dog.

I put him in the front seat of my pickup and headed to the house.  The 20 minute drive was fairly uneventful, but even after a brief getting acquainted period in the confines of my truck, Dexter had already come over to lay down next to me as I drove.  Once I got him into the house, Char immediately fell in love with him--and he with her.  It took about 5 minutes for the other indoor dogs to know they had found a new buddy so all was well.  He had no sooner come into the house than he wanted up in Char's lap and for the past 4 years, that was where I could find him when she was in the room.

Dexter was our puppy alarm clock in the morning.  At the first sign of light outside, he would come over to Char or me and begin to scratch with both front paws until we acknowledged him.  Then, he would come around to face one of us and then start licking until we put our feet on the floor.  He would jump down from the bed and then whirl and twirl down the hall until we had the whole gang in the living room.  As soon as everyone was settled, he would climb up on Char's lap and go right back to sleep.  Just moving the party from one room to another.

He had a temper and was very protective of Char.  Any time he felt one of his pals was intruding on food or airspace, he would put on his ugly face and growl.  His growl and bark were unique, so we always knew when he was having a moment.  A firm word and he would go right back to the sweet, loving dog we enjoyed.

Char and Dexter had a bond that is not so unusual in human-canine relationships.  He could read her moods and was the one thing that could erase a bad day faster than anything.  He could not wait to find his place on her lap when we settled for the evening, and he was her constant companion whenever she was in the house.  The other dogs seemed to know that they had something special, and they did not seem to mind.

We noticed him having trouble a year or so ago.  He was diagnosed with congestive heart disease and had to go on meds.  In the just the past week, however, he got really sick really fast.  We had nearly lost Cocoa, our Australian Healer, with her rapid onset diabetes.  Dexter just did not have the constitution to fight through all the issues that ensued.  He was a battler, and yesterday, Char brought him home, knowing that he was having a tough time.  This morning, he found his way to the place where all marvelous dogs go, and I know he will be whirling and twirling in front of us when we are all together again.