01 May, 2012

We'll miss you, grumpy old dog

This is the first picture I ever saw of Dru, it was the one that went along with his CSAC adoption write up. He was 7 years old. He was the victim of a divorce. Their marriage split up and no one wanted the Cocker Spaniel. They took him to the vet to be put down. The vet didn't kill healthy animals, he said, "Leave him with me, I'll find someplace for him to go." He had stress colitis that got better when he went to the kennel. That must have been some stress filled home for the kennel to be a better place!

We brought him home on a Thursday, June 17, 2004. He was so handsome! A large Cocker Spaniel with color that ranged from almost white to pale gold/caramel.

He loved to swim. He liked running in the park. He liked food and treats. He liked to chase birds and one time he even caught (and killed) a pigeon in our yard.

He also had a lot of fears. He hated having anyone touch his paws. He couldn't stand being pushed or pulled by the collar, but would walk nicely on a leash. Putting medicine in his eyes or ears was, at first, traumatic for him and for us...he reacted like we were trying to kill him and he was trying to take us with him. A couple of times I cried after putting medicine in his eyes because it was so scary and upsetting to see him lose control.

Things got better when he learned to trust us a little more and we learned how to manage his fears. We got a muzzle and used it so we weren't so afraid of being bitten. I still got bitten a few times and have the scars to prove it.

I wrote a haiku one time about watching him run in circles in the park, he was like joy on four legs, running for the sheer pleasure of running.

We took him to the beach and he chased the waves up and down. He chased the shadows of the sea birds along the sand. He plunged into the surf and swam fearlessly.

He was always grumpy and particular about how you handled him. He was smart in his own way, the only dog we've ever had that came and asked to be let out. When Dru wanted to go to the yard, he came and "gave us the paw," using one of those huge paws to scrape the bed, the chair, the leg, until we got up and escorted him outside.

He loved riding in the car, loved it! He always started out in the back seat, but on long car trips that big nose would start poking into the front seat, or resting on someone's shoulder. Like the camel that got into the tent starting with its nose, once Dru's nose made it into the front seat, forty pounds of Cocker Spaniel would eventually follow. He looked out the front window the whole trip while the other dogs dozed.

He always liked sleeping on the cool tile of the bathroom, even in winter. He didn't like toys much unless I would play with him. We'd play tug of war with a squeaky football, or I'd roll him a ball and then pretend to want it back. He'd chomp the ball and dare me to get it.

He lost his vision to progressive retinal atrophy in 2009, he was about 12. He adjusted. It made him slower and more hesitant, but he managed to get everywhere he wanted to go. It made us sad that he could no longer run, and he stopped swimming.

He had typical old dog health problems: arthritis, a heart murmur, growths on his butt. Other than that he was like the Energizer Bunny, he took a licking and kept on ticking. He still wanted to go on the walks every day, and he sniffed his way around he neighborhood. Woe betide the person who tripped on him or accidentally stepped on his feet; that person had better move fast to avoid the fangs of Dru!

He was banned from four groomers for bad behavior! I had to laugh because that was Dru, he was particular about who touched him and how.

Earlier this year we could tell he was winding down. He didn't want to go on the long walks. He slept a lot more. Last week he stopped eating more than a mouthfull of his food. He was in pain and very weak. The vet took an x-ray and diagnosed cancer. We brought him home and spent the last few days giving him bacon, hamburgers, cereal - any food that tempted him.

We took him on one last car ride yesterday. He was too sick to enjoy it, groaning as Thomas lifted him gently into the car and held him. Our good vet, Susan deLeon, gave him the two shots. Thomas and I stayed with him until the end, patting him and telling him that we loved him and would miss him.

He was not an "easy" dog. He was sensitive, opinionated, and touchy. But in the 7+ years we had with Dru, not a day went by without us laughing at something he did, smiling at his eccentricities, and admiring his good looks. We used to say, "Dru doesn't have to be nice, 'cause he's so gooooood looking!"

Rest in peace you droopy Dru. I love you.


  1. Amanda, I didn't know that Dru had passed away. I'm so sorry to hear the news, and cried reading your memories of him. As always, you candidly captured the moments shared. What a wonderful thing you and Thomas did for that grumpy ole dogger and continue to do for the others. He deserved to be loved, to be safe, and yes, to be grumpy. Love you, Sarah and Harvey