Thursday, October 14, 2021

The Last of the Monochrome Minidudes

The early years.

Today, Bair, the sole surviving dog of our once grand monochrome cadre moved on. Aging, aching, and anemic, he ambled at best. Devoid of the Labrador spirit, he laid his chin flat on the floor between his paws and quickly went to sleep just short of the age of 13.

Our family vet once told us you know it’s time when they can no longer do two of their three favorite things. Walking was out, leaning on us with his full 80lbs was gone, and his tail only sometimes pounded out a rhythm when we called his name. The only thing remaining was his not-of-this-Earth ability to absorb all the stresses we carried. There were two options. You could lie on the floor with your arm around him to receive instant peace. Alternatively, as he preferred, you could rub his ears until all your cares were gone; 43 minutes was the average time. However, to insist he stay only to benefit us would be wrong. He was ready to go and we let him.
Years ago, an airport volunteer befriended Bair. That’s how he came to us. Back then he was just a pup living a rough life with no veterinary care. We told our friend Larry Hagen, “If you keep that up when you leave you’ll have to take him with you.” He didn’t. Honestly, though, I’m not sure we could have let him go.

Walking by Ginger's side.

He was the perfect dog right out of the box. Fun, gentle, and black and white; with zero training he walked beside you the way a soulless metropolitan something-doodle would after years of manipulation. When he wanted to go out, he did. When he wanted to come home, he did. Once, between all those ins and outs, we tracked him miles away making more friends and eating all the treats they offered. Whenever he started to gain weight we knew he'd found another friend and we'd have to track them down and ask them to stop. Somehow, everyone as far as you could see knew his name. Hilariously, it was not uncommon for strangers (to us) to ask how he was doing. Yes, a first class lover boy he was.

Here you can see him saying with his eyes, "I know I wasn't
supposed to, but it was deer guts. I couldn't help myself."

Bair’s only drawbacks were understandable. Before we adopted him the people where he lived would knock the crap out of him if he tried to jump onto anything then they would put him on a chain and leave him outside. Until the day he died he would flip out if a vet tried to put him up on a table or anyone attempted to lift him onto anything. A leash (chain) did the same. Thankfully, Ginger was able to work with him the way she did with Ace and get him over it. This allowed him to tolerate a leash and go for a ride in a car. Other than those rare trips to town, he was pure country boy.
Of all our dogs Bair was not the most of anything. Although, he was the second best at everything. There wasn’t anything about being a dog he wasn’t very good at. More than once during a long walk or hike, even simply sitting on the deck watching the world go by, I looked at him and thought to myself how much I loved that dog. An honest pup unspoiled by modernity; loyal, gentle, best friend to children, and always, by choice, coming home to us.
Oddly, his passing was in many ways less painful than others. Once he made it to us he lived what may have been the perfect dog life. He missed out on nothing, lived the way a dog wants to and should live - on edge of wild but wholly tame - and when his time came he didn’t suffer. However, in those same ways it is devastating as I realize I shall never see that again in my life.
He was the best dog ever.

One of his last days on Earth,
hanging out on the deck.