Yesterday, I learned that my dog, Arthur, had to be put down.
My family discovered him at the pound about 13 years ago and there was no hesitating in taking home this dog that so badly seemed to want to come with us. The people at the pound guessed that he was between three and seven years old, but considering his long time spent with us, I suspect we got him earlier in his life.
When we picked him up, we had no idea what kind of dog he was. We suspected he might be some kind of terrier or possibly just a mutt. His shaggy black hair and white beard looked like he could have been the product of more than one breed. But one day while picking up a friend at the airport, we noticed a dog that looked identical to Arthur. Quickly running over to the owner and inquiring about the dog revealed that he was a Portuguese Water Dog. With a little more research, we confirmed that Arthur was indeed one of these somewhat uncommon dogs.
He was uncommon in many great ways. In all the best ways really. He was smart as could be. The first day we took him home, we were going to keep him in our tiled kitchen in case housebreaking had not been a part of his past. I distractedly held him on a long leash in the kitchen, but while I failed to pay attention for a moment, he walked around the corner and promptly lifted a leg on a houseplant. When I realized what was happening, I yelped a desperate “No!” and yanked him back into the kitchen. He never tried anything like that again. He was smart enough to learn a lesson the first time it was taught.
He fit in perfectly with our family. While my dad completed chores in the yard, he was a constant companion, eager to help in any way he could (even if it was just moral support). He woke up every day with each member of the family and made sure everyone’s routines got completed in a proper order by prompting us for a morning treat at a set time. He kept a friendly presence in my mom’s office while she worked and merely by being there, the room and the work became lighter.
For me, he was a perfect friend. In troubled times, he sometimes felt like the only friend I had. His eyes held nothing but love and he knew exactly when to come cuddle or kiss you. When times were good, he knew how to enjoy them. Whether it was chasing down one of his many toys, play-fighting in the back yard, snoozing in the summer sun or dancing in the snow, he was a constant source of smiles. I truly loved him.
Everyone who knows our family knows how much of a part of it Arthur was. Everyone who met him liked him and if they spent enough time with him, they loved him too. And he loved them right back. What’s more, he knew that. He knew how special he was to us and I can only hope we made his life as happy as he made ours.
Arthur, I love you. Always will.