The Dog Who Never Barked

neverbarkIt started years ago. My daughter Jessica was 10, and she wanted to go see the puppies. Now, I am sure I would not even consider going to that place, but at that time, yes we did. Sue me! It was just a pet store which is still around even now, forbidden place for me since I don’t want to get mad, and I will, trust me on that one, seeing pups in small cages, pups coming from puppy mills and whose owner don’t give a damn about the dogs, there are just there for the dollars.

Anyway, at that time, it was just “to look”. We already had Douchka, our German shepherd, and I was not planning to have any other dogs.

We came in, and immediately were taken aback by the number of pups in glass cages, looking at you with those eyes. If I had been a millionaire, I would have taken everyone home with me, but I was not. Coming out of the brouhaha of that Saturday morning, a “sales person” was carrying back to his crate a Golden retriever puppy, commenting on his status “Everyone wanted to see him, but nobody wanted to take him home!” What do you want me to say? Yes, I did endorse that place by taking the pup. Between Jessica’s eyes, and the pups’ scared eyes, how could I not? He was 3 months old, coming from a puppy mill which closed down six months later, he went home with us.

It was the time of the Nano pet. Do you remember those? The only thing I remember from them was that they were forbidden in schools; therefore I had to take care of the Nano pet while I was at work, and otherwise the darn thing was going to die! Great technology, I am telling you!

The puppy from the puppy mill got a name, the one from the Nano thing! Pouch. Douchka was not crazy about him. He was just a puppy, and at that time, she had no patience for puppies. It changed later on in her life. Even my “au pair” girl did not like him. But Pouch was home for good. I never ever thought about getting rid of one of my furry kids. They are my furever kids no matter what.

I always crated our pups, but Pouch was not going to take it. Later on, we realized that Pouch was claustrophobic. He could not stand small spaces: crates or my truck, but it took us a while to figure it out. Pouch’s crate was our kitchen that he started to remodel to his tastes! Despite of all his chew toys, he decided that the best toys in the world were the moldings! Gosh, he loved to chew on it, no matter what. I put tabasco, hot pepper, nothing worked. I just had to be patient, and wait until he was done destroying the kitchen, and believe me or not, it happened

Pouch was our goofy boy. When he was a teenager, at one point, I heard some crunching noise, and could not figure out where it was coming from. I went to the dining room and saw our boy chewing Cognac glasses. Yes, they were clean, and I had just bought them, not because I like hard liquors but because the glasses were cool. Called my vet who told me to give him some bread. I did not have bread, so instead he got croissants, and everything went down smoothly. Good old Pouch. I will always remember those glasses!

Pouch was Jessica’s dog, the shadow of her shadow. He was the one who was there for her in good and bad times.

Pouch was stubborn, extremely stubborn! At one point, I took a trainer. The trainer gave up on him. He was pulling on his leash no matter what, and her answer was “he wants to be the leader, let him be!”. One day we took him to a field, and she told me: “You are going to see why he is called a retriever!”, and she threw a ball. Pouch stayed there, sitting down, and looked at us like “Am I supposed to do something with that thing?” Pouch did not retrieve! Pouch hated the water! I remember one time where we were walking along the canal, and he suddenly rolled on his back in the grass along the path, and I saw it coming: he just rolled into the canal, and yes, he almost drowned in 3 feet of water. I had to go to rescue him. That was our boy!

Pouch, as any Golden retriever, did not have one mean bone in his body. That’s just the way they are! One day, I was walking my bunch: Douchka, Pouch, Sammie (my little one), and Jet, my lab, and Pouch loved to be ahead of us. Suddenly I heard Sammie bark, a weird bark that I had never heard before. I rushed, and I saw Pouch sitting quietly with a groundhog hanging from his cheek. I had to kick the darn thing out, but my boy never moved. He was ok, but he was just sitting there, ignoring that beast which was hanging on his cheek. That was our boy!

He became kind of lost when Jessica went to college. She was coming back most of the weekends, but he lost his routine there. He loved to sleep in her room no matter what.

One morning I put all the dogs out, and Pouch was MIA. I called him. Nothing. I went to Jessica’s room. He was not there. I even looked under her bed, like if a 100 lbs. dog could squeeze there! I became frantic pretty soon. Did I forget to take him back inside the night before, and he escaped? What was I going to say to Jessica? I lost your dog….. I was just freaking out! I had gone through the whole house unsuccessfully. Suddenly I thought the only place I had not checked was Jessica’s bathroom. As soon as I opened the door, I saw him, sitting and kind of scared. Hey, he heard me screaming all over the bloody house, but he stayed there, still, not barking, quiet, waiting for the storm to pass.

I still remember that morning like if it were yesterday. Crying through my smiles, we had a very special walk that morning, the two of us. I remember the horses, the geese flying over us, and that quiet and serene walk. It was a beautiful morning, and I realized that day how much I was taking him for granted.

At the age of 12 and half, Pouch was diagnosed with Lymphocytic leukemia. He was a fighter, and with the help of chemotherapy, he stayed with us for almost two years. The leukemia did not kill him but he also had all sorts of tumors growing in his body. One day, he suddenly could not stand on his feet. His spirit was intact, but he had no more control of his legs. I guess a tumor was in control of his brain. I remember his eyes: he looked so lost. He was looking at me with hope. I was the “fixer”, and I did fixed him. We put him to sleep. Jessica and I were with him until the last minute and after. Until almost the end, he was eating his favorite treat: dried freeze liver.   His spirits were good. We let him go because it was the right thing to do. It doesn’t mean that it was easy or easier.

I never realized until he was gone how much of an impact he had on our lives. I know he is well. Sometimes I can feel his presence. Some mornings, I can see him lying in the sunrise on my bedroom floor. I know he is in a good place, but Gosh, I never realized before he left us how much I was going to miss that dog who never barked.

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