Last evening whilst engaging in my now usual Savannah crawl, a couple was walking their doberman pinscher puppy, he must have been around five months old. The top-line on this dog was so familiar it was as if time stood still. If Zeus is my floppsie puppy dog, Gator was my soul-mate. He arrived a gangly puppy, six weeks old, large boned, all knock kneed, paws and floppy ears with little to indicate the show dog he became.
While the man had bought him for himself it was quickly evident to everyone, including Gator, that he was really mine. Though he loved Man, he worshipped me and I was the one who took care of him. I did not know how much this dog was to feature in my life. Doberman puppies are not generally cute, instead he assumed an early gravitas that would become his hallmark. In the early days, we took him everywhere, he learnt to socialise, with other dogs and with people. It got so that the jingle of car keys would find him waiting at the door and he would sulk if left at home.
He grew, and grew, and before I knew it, my puppy had become a large dog, intimidating those who did not know him. An exceptionally beautiful animal, he was after all bred to show, he also had personality. But Gator was more than just my dog, he was my liming partner, my confidante, my protector. He spent days lying at my feet as I wrote, in those days I worked from home. We spent hours reading or sleeping on the couch or floor in front of the tv, or playing fetch with his ball. He patiently waited for me to take him out walkies. You had to go through him to get to me. And then one day it started. He went off his food and he was listless. Off to the vet.
I think now, to anyone who doubted that the man loved me should know that he did once. Gator turned out to be a very sick dog, we didn't know it when we got him but after dozens of vet visits it was discovered that he had congenital liver problems. For the two years he was with me it was a cycle of Gator being fine, then Gator being sick. It was like having a child with a debilitating disease that came and went. In all of this the man, who loved animals too, was encouraged by all and sundry, including the breeder, to stop wasting time on this dog that was never going to get any better. And yet he did, because I loved that dog, it added up to thousands. We had to make a decision, and then, Gator took the decision from me and willed himself to die.
Watching that couple walk their puppy last night brought back so many happy memories and I wished for them the joy that I got with my dog. I will always treasure the memory of Gator, head propped up on my shoulder as I read, nose nestled in my neck, and the love he so willingly gave.