December 29, 2009 at 2:02 am #103
I want to write about my beloved dog Eric. Eric arrived in my life as a 7 wk old Golden Retriever. He was donated by breeder Charlotte Davis to BC Guide Dogs to be a stud dog for their breeding program. I took Eric initially as a puppy-raiser, for a year or so, but he ended up spending his whole life with me. Eric was a little fluffy off-white bundle of fur. He became immediate fast friends with my mother’s dog Simon, and they spent the first 10 months of Eric’s life playing together. Simon is a full grown Shepherd cross and he could easily have munched on Eric but he was always patient and gentle. Simon would lie on his back and let Eric jump on top of him growling. As time passed Eric grew and grew and became a 90 pound, tall gorgeous Retriever who could easily knock Simon down, but their special friendship was never lost.
As he was growing Eric was seldom destructive. I have heard stories of Goldens eathing the furniture, so I was happy that the worst he did was to chew several remotes to pieces. He could eat anything – one time I gave him an empty pop can to play with and came back to find it half eaten. Wood, stones, bones – nothing seemed to faze him. And incredibly he seemed to digest it all!
Eric fulfilled his promise of becoming a gorgeous dog and became a stud dog for BC Guide Dogs. Due to various circumstances he was only bred once, and was the father of 6 beautiful little puppies. They seem to have inherited his stubbornness though, because they had little success as guide dogs, and at least four of them left the program. So that was the end of his famous breeding career!
When he was about 1 year old we started doing a lot of hiking – so every weekend was playtime for Eric, as he accompanied us along endless trails, up mountains, through mud and across rivers -always ahead of us and always with total joy and abandon. He loved water in any form – black, muddy puddles, scummy ponds and the clean wide ocean. He would chase after stones and pick them up from the water endlessly. He was a strong swimmer and in the water he would circle around in front of us in case we needed him. He never tried to forcibly rescue anybody, but you could tell he was just aching for the opportunity.
When we were hiking we always depended on Eric and Simon to let us know if there were any bears or cougars near the trail. We figured they would smell them right away and start barking. Finally the day came when I met a bear while walking alone in Tynehead Park. It was sunning itself in a berry patch about 10 feet from the trail. Eric happily trotted by the bear and didn’t even notice it was there. I saw the bear, turned quickly in the other direction, calling to Eric and trying to keep his attention so he wouldn’t notice the bear. No fear – he didn’t have a clue and trotted happily back to me.
He was always a gentle dog and only ever got into one dog fight that he started. A Basenji (a stupid dog about 1/4 his size) had been growling and annoying him for several days in a row in the dog park. Finally the next time Eric saw him, the two dogs flew at each other’s throats with no warning. They rolled around and under a bramble bush so I couldn’t get them apart. Eric was standing on top of the other dog and I thought he was killing it. Finally I got them apart and lo and behold – not a drop of blood. That was his first and last fight – and he sure knew how to pick his opponents.
When he was 4 I moved above the Arctic circle and brought Eric with me. He took to the Arctic without blinking an eye. He happily chomped on frozen muskox remnants. Even in temperatures of 50 below he walked every day without getting cold. The snow is too cold for dog’s feet there, so he had his own set of boots – which meant I spent alot of time trying to find them where he had left them behind. It was my fondest wish to make Eric a sled dog. Eric had other thoughts about this though. When hooked in with a dog team, Eric would pull backwards, thereby quickly getting himself out of sled pulling. I have numerous pictures of 5 dogs pulling a sled with Eric trotting happily alongside looking smug.
One time we were harnessing the dogs up and I harnessed Eric in with the team. Our experienced Inuit friend who grew up running sled dogs silently unhooked Eric and handed him back to me. Not wanting to argue with him, I waited until he was out of sight and then hooked Eric back in with the team. Off we went and within minutes Eric was pulling backwards in danger of getting dragged. When I went to unhook him the rest of the team took off and I had to throw myself backwards over the traces to avoid getting tangled up in them. Then as I stood up the sled caught me from behind and ran over me! I guess I should have listened! It seems the Inuit run new dogs free alongside a team for quite a while before harnessing them in.
Eric was an amazing dog with small children. He would slow himself down and move slowly and quietly when anyone his size or less was around. When Eric was 5 years old my new born son arrived. Eric became his big brother and best friend. He patiently lay while Davy poked and prodded him and never showed the least bit of impatience. He’d occasionally move his head out of the way if it looked like Davy was about to run him over with some toy. I so looked forward to Davy growing with Eric as his friend and it breaks my heart that he won’t get to do that and won’t remember Eric.
When he was 5 1/2 Eric got a condition called Cushing’s syndrome. This was treatable but the medication had to be carefully titrated and had side effects of it’s own. Eric never got back to being the gorgeous, vibrant dog that he had been. He had an endless series of varying medical mishaps – pancreatitis, spontaneous hematomas, mysterious infections, skin conditions… Through it all Eric was patient and good humoured – even though he wasn’t as active as before he was always there, and I spent my day stepping over and around him as he sprawled on the floor of whatever room I was in.
Six weeks ago, on our last walk together at Colony Farm, as usual, Eric jumped into the river, but he couldn’t get back up the bank. Dreading the prospect of descending the 12 foot bank into the Pitt River, we coaxed and coaxed him until he was finally able to make his way out. Four weeks ago I noticed that Eric was looking shaky and looking in his mouth I saw a small nodule. When I got back from a trip 10 days later I checked his mouth only to find a huge growth involving four whole teeth. He had cancer and it wasn’t treatable. Eric went down very quickly after that and passed away quietly a week and a half later.
There is a huge hole in my heart and an emptiness in my home now. Every day for 6 1/2 years Eric has been part of my life – I’m constantly turning my head expecting to see him. I wait for him to come to the door to let him in and out. Every time I put a plate of food on a low table I am sad that I don’t have to keep food out of his reach. I loved Eric abundantly every day of his life and am grieving his passing wholeheartedly, but I am so happy to have had my beloved puppy in my life for all these years.
August 12, 2010 at 4:02 am #9967
What a joy to have had Eric in your life for 6 1/2 years, it should have been many, many more years. He is a handsome boy and will be missed and will live in your heart forever.
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