Monday, April 29, 2013

Charlie: A Life Well-lived.

Charlie.  Beloved.

He was probably born in November, 1999, somewhere in North Texas.  A little Rhodesian Ridgeback/Chow mix.  He was the only pup in his litter in the shelter, that following January, who had enough energy to get up, and go bark at the man who came to rescue him.  He was rescued by TIRR in January 2000, as a terribly sick little furball, full of worms, and covered in sores from ringworm.  He promptly got even sicker, contracting Parvo, and surviving both the illness and the cure.  For back then, Tamiflu for dogs was unheard of...and the treatment for Parvo was supportive care.

These were the photos we first saw of Charlie.  He was irresistible though we were told that he would not be healthy enough to adopt until he was 5-6mo old.  The Parvo treatment left him with a leg infected and damaged from a blown vein, and the subdermal saline one vet injected was the wrong salinity, and it ate a hole in his side.  Both injuries healed with time (and the hated Bonnet!), and the only real visible sign was scarring and a bald spot on his leg.

Charlie was an interesting mix of two breeds.  Flying Nun ears, a red double coat, but the most gorgeous of ridges you could imagine, stocky of build and the gait of a Chow, but all the drive of a Ridgeback.  He was never aloof, nor was he particularly quiet (I think the ACK lied when they said Chows were quiet!)--a favorite activity was to chase the airplanes out of our yard in full voice!  He loved people, but please God, don't ring my doorbell!  He used to launch himself in a doggy holy war against the front door.  It wasn't until he got too deaf to hear the bell, and his hips too painful to charge the door, that he gave it up.  My front door still bears the scars of 80# of Ridgeback and claws...

He could be a goofball.
 Sitting Frog-dog style...later in his prime.

He was easy to train, being supremely food-driven.  He was a master thief of food held about nose-height in a child's hand. He was gentle too, as evidenced by his delicate cleansing of a peanut-butter covered child. (Aren't big sisters silly?  Peanut butter isn't paint!  Note the guilty sibling in the background!)

He loved visiting the kennel where we adopted him.  We have always boarded him there since we moved to Texas.  He loved to rat the fences, barking with the other rescue dogs, or just sack out in the warm Texas sunshine.  He always smelled of sunshine when he would lay out and bask.

He used to do tricks, for treats.  He knew about half a dozen, and would run through them all at once, sometimes, just to make sure he got a treat!  Sit, paw, other paw, down, and roll over!

He was a comfortable dog--his fur was soft, and fluffy from that undercoat, and being a stockier dog, he wasn't bony or lumpy like our other old dog.  You could lay down on him, curl up beside him on a cold winter morning on the couch he wasn't supposed to get on but sometimes did, and snooze away with a self-heating couch warmer of your very own!  The kids, when they were little considered Charlie their own personal Bark-O-Lounger, and he loved it.

He was a talkative dog, especially in the kitchen, his favorite place.  He would talk--not bark, but sort of a yowly, chuffing, talking sound.  He'd tell you if he was out of water, or if the morning/evening feeding time had been too slow in coming.  He was all about being fed on time!  If Charlie wasn't sick, he always ate all his food--all of it, always!  After all, you never know if some other dog might want to muscle in on a good thing.

This was one of his favorite locations...
 Under the kitchen table, especially on Saturdays, when our friend comes over to dine with us.  Charlie always knew who was the best source of doggy treats!

Charlie was the second dog I'd ever had.  My first dog, a dachshund, died when I was a young teenager.  Charlie was a velcro-dog.  He loved his people.  He was always around me, as if attached by an invisible umbilical.  If I left the room, he'd follow.  He always slept in our room, on my side of the room.  When younger, he slept within arms reach, ready for ear-scritches, and later as he got old, he moved to the area by the bathroom door, so he could watch the hallway, and generally try to trip Dave if he got up in the middle of the night!  But Charlie was always here, sometimes underfoot in the kitchen perhaps in hopes of tripping me and causing food to fall... but my house seems empty and quiet now, even though it is neither empty nor quiet.  The children and the other dogs see to that.

Eventually, his ashes will be ready to pick up, as will his peri-mortem paw print I had requested.  Silly me, I couldn't bear the thought of them doing it after he was dead...but it just didn't seem right.  Charlie was a dog who shouldn't have survived his puppy days, shouldn't have been a good dog (if you listen to the mixed breed haters) and shouldn't have lived to 13.  But he was always one to defy the odds, defy human expectations.  I am so glad to have shared 13 years of my life with him.

Charlie was a Good Dog!


  1. "...grieve not, nor speak of me with tears but laugh and speak of me often as if I were beside you...'twas Heaven here with you...I loved you so..."...a simple set of sentiments from me, a mixed dog breed owner and a dog lover, an abuse hater!...:)JP

  2. Oh Charlie was meant to find you and you to find him. 13 years of love from both sides there is nothing better than that. I am so sorry for your loss. Hug B

  3. Charlie sounds like an amazing member of the family. So sorry for your loss :-(

  4. Thank you for celebrating Charlie - and sharing with all of us. His memory is now in my heart, too.

    Sending you my LOVE - imagining i could give a hug . . .


  5. Charlie was so lucky to have you to love and to hold. I'm so sorry he's gone now. At least y'all have happy memories. I sure can understand the heartache. I'm losing my 13 year old miniature schnauzer (Maxie) by inches. Some days she just sleeps and seems miserable but other days she seems to rally. It's killin' me. Thank you for sharing his life with us.

    God bless from Southeast Georgia,
    Sparky @ My Thoughts Exactly

    (Popped over from Thistle Cove Farm)

  6. I'm a mutt, why shouldn't my dog be one too? Thank you for this. Beautiful story of a rescued dog that apparently did plenty of rescuing of his own.

  7. So sorry for your loss. Sounds like Charlie was perfect for your family. xo


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