Charger, the dog in this picture
, passed away this afternoon.
Since I only read and participate in the Schlock Mercenary forum, the Yak Pen is rarely used by anyone, and no-one on this forum knows me other than from what I've posted, this is mostly self-indulgence, but I'm going to share Charger's story and you can take it or leave it as you see fit.
Charger was a long-haired chihuahua born in April, 2005, at a backyard breeder's puppy mill. He was sold for $400 to a family that already had two black labs and three small children. The family told us that Charger was frequently left in the back yard with the two black labs, unsupervised. Somewhere along the way, he began biting the children, and the family decided to have him put down. We found out about him because they put information about him on Craig's List, and they turned Charger over to us in October 2006. They told us he was 1 1/2 years old, but until we saw his veterinary records, we were convinced they had lied and he was really around 10-12 years old. He had bad hips, bad teeth, and he walked like he had neurological problems. The day we took possession of him, we had his former owners put him in a travel crate we had brought with us. Charger didn't have a collar, leash or anything else when we got him, but also we didn't pay anything for him.
On the way home, we stopped at a pet store to get a collar and a harness and leash for him. Charger wouldn't let us reach into the travel crate to take him out, and he wouldn't come out on his own, so my wife, Terri, picked the crate up and dumped him onto the floor in the store aisle. With some care, we were able to get him into a collar and harness, and back into the crate, without any blood. We already had dogs and cats at home, and Charger yelled at every one of them any time they came near him. He also bit both Terri and me several times in the first six months we had him. Then one day, Terri was sitting watching TV and Charger came to her chair, and put his front feet up on the side of the chair and looked at her like he expected something. We had been told by his previous family that his favorite thing was to find someone sitting with their foot on the floor with the to of their shoe pointing upward, and Charger would come and rub his chest on the person's toe. Turns out, after getting used to the idea that we were his family, he actually wanted to be held and petted just as much as any dog. He was still nasty to other animals, especially black ones, and to other people, but he would at least take treats from strangers without a problem. When we could find strangers willing to give him treats, anyway.
From the time he stopped biting us (around April or May 2007) until we moved to a single-story house in September, 2008 he didn't have much trouble going up and down the carpeted stairs, but he avoided the linoleum floor in the kitchen. When we moved into a two-story apartment in February, 2010, he wouldn't climb the stairs. The most we ever saw him on the stairs on his own was one step up from the bottom a couple of times, and one time one step down from the top. So I spoiled him by carrying him up and down the stairs.
He was the only dog I knew who I could outrun for even short distances. He still liked going to the dog park, even though he had trouble walking and he didn't want other dogs around him. One time he got so excited about the dog park that he actually got up to a fairly fast walk (for me, that is) and ended up stumbling over his own feet and nose-down in the dirt.
He has always yelled at the other animals in the house, particularly the one black cat we have now had for three years. We started noticing something was definitely wrong since last Tuesday, he hasn't yelled at anyone. He was still getting onto his feet by himself, and drinking plenty of water until this morning. I'm not sure when he last ate, because the dog food is always available and we don't monitor our dogs' eating.
We have a concrete patio which gets direct sun in the mornings, and he has always liked to lay out in the sun on warm days. We haven't often let him sit outside for very long, because he has always gotten upset and noisy whenever anyone walked by on the nearby sidewalk. I sent him outside Friday around 11am when there was still sun on the patio, and I forgot he was there until the other dogs went out again around 4pm. He hadn't made any noise for the entire time, which was another hint that there was a problem, but he was still breathing normally and still seemed alert, so we went on about our business.
When we got up this morning, I brought Charger downstairs with me as usual, and left him standing in front of the water dish while I went to make coffee. He was still in front of the water dish, but laying down, when the coffee was ready, so I picked him up to hold him in my lap for awhile. It wasn't long before I realized he had a bad smell about him, so I bathed him, and then Terri and I traded off cuddling him in towels in our laps for awhile. Around noon, I decided to sit out on the patio with him in my lap, and he seemed to enjoy having the sun on him for a little while. When he got a little antsy, I figured he was tired of the direct sun, and put his towel over to shade him a bit. Shortly after that, I noticed he seemed more relaxed than usual, and discovered he was no longer breathing. Terri and I mourned over him for a few minutes then arranged with the area emergency vet that they would deliver his body for cremation and for the ashes to be returned to us. We aren't done with all the crying yet, and I expect there will be more when we receive his ashes, but we know he has enjoyed his time as part of our family, and he doesn't have any more pain now.