I buried Caesar a few days ago. He had been in the freezer until a purchase of Costco chicken displaced his temporary resting spot. Caesar was a West Highland Terrier who had wandered onto our ‘estate’ a couple of days after this recent Christmas.
When I first saw him, he was wearing a red collar which contrasted nicely with his dirty white fur and he was nonplussed by my two rather rambunctious dogs. Ambling around somewhat aimlessly, I had assumed he was a pet of a holiday visitor in the neighborhood. But he kept circling back to where I was weeding and I noticed his collar had no identification. His plodding gait conveyed lost and weary. His dingy hair seemed indicative of abandonment.
At this point, I should point out that I am a sucker for wayward animals. As kids, my siblings and I were never allowed pets. Withholding water from a person does not decrease their thirst and I suspect the absence of dogs in my young orbit only added to my affection for them. I came to agree with the opinion of an old time nurseryman I once knew who told me, “I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like dogs and children.”
But back to the story at hand . . .
In the ensuing days, my daughter named our stray Caesar. His wobbly trot and aloof demeanor described him as an older gentleman. I took him to the vet to have him checked out. A scan proved he had no identification chip and the kindly attendant told me that he (the dog) had ‘found’ me. She verified our thoughts that he was near the end of his life and likely wouldn’t be around too much longer. I left with a supply of antibiotics and pain meds for the old fella and then got an appointment with a dog groomer.
By the time he was deposited at the stylist he had been in my possession only a brief while and we had never heard him speak. Yet when I went to pick him up, he recognized me from a distance and, to my surprise, barked with recognition and a voice that said “Get me outta here!” As a gesture of his appreciation, he peed on some nearby grass before I loaded him in the truck. Although I didn’t mimic his action, as males it was clear we had bonded.
Despite efforts to locate his owner, none was found, and Caesar gradually melded into our household. With an infrequent hobby horse run, those brief occasions would be an indication of his younger days. But most often he slept a lot and had difficulty going up and down the two steps that define our kitchen entry. Although house broken, he made little effort to get much past the side door to take care of business. However, his senses did not fail him in receiving tidbits I fed him from the dinner table. Perhaps this is why almost every dog that I have known will rest at my feet while I eat. I am regularly chastised for my hillbilly behavior but I have yet to have any of the dogs object.
Over the years, we’ve had many associations with pets of all sorts including a number of cats and dogs. Each claimed a part of our hearts and their respective departures from this world were painful. For those who have lived with them, it is understood that dogs are very disparate characters but almost always unconditionally loving. (Remember that it’s the proverbial cat that one kicks after a bad day.) The family dog is just too endearing to receive abuse. Note to reader: Just so I don’t get a lot of “hate mail”, that is written tongue-in-cheek as this article is focused on dogs!
So, Caesar, you are resting in fine company with the other animals (all good people) that have also lived in our hearts and home. I believe you continue to enjoy the place you chose to be.
We’ll miss you.