That morning there was a puppy. The sweetest, softest little puppy with a squashed black face and a little nub of a tail. We were instantly drawn to him and spent far too long petting him and slowly falling in love. We asked the owners what breed it was, and then reluctantly dragged ourselves away to go and learn about the breed. We'd just moved into our first house in America, trading up our carpeted townhome with no backyard to a lovely 3-bedroom house with laminate floors and an easily accessible backyard. Upon learning that Boxers are generally a wonderful breed, good with kids and easily trained, we sort of felt like it was fate and went straight back to purchase our first dog.
Simon Hercules Harris joined our household about three weeks later when he'd finally recovered from kennel cough. We tried to crate train him - as all the books will tell you to do - but he was absolutely TERRIFIED of the crate. We did everything we could to make it work, but after the second night of puppy screams, I brought him out and laid him on his puppy bed next to the sofa where I slept for the night. He didn't move until 4:30 am or so, when I took him out to pee. He was completely house-trained shortly thereafter and we never looked back.
|Playing with his "cousin" Jackson (aka Ratbag)|
|We went through about three of these dog beds before we wised up. Or|
maybe it was Simon who was wise because he slept on the couch from this
|Yes, we dressed him up|
Life got a little hairy for Simon when we brought Pacey home from the hospital. I've written before about how Pacey was tethered to an oxygen concentrator by a very long length of clear tubing. That tubing scared the SHIT out of that poor dog. He never knew when or where it was going to be or would move and as a result, he became afraid of the floor. He wouldn't walk on the laminate floor at all and we had to make a trail of rugs to the back door so he could let himself out.
Simon was endlessly patient with our kids, who tend to love aggressively at times. He tolerated all sorts of annoyances and never once showed an ounce of aggression in return.
We joked that Simon was really half cat and half human. God knows he could be irritating, but he was truly one of the best animal companions ever.
On Sunday morning we had to take Simon to the vet and let him go on to the Great Doggie Beyond. He was diagnosed with lymphoma in April and it became clear when we returned from our vacation that he was not doing ok anymore. We spoke to an extremely compassionate vet at length, and she helped us see some important things about his quality of life. The vet's office could not have been kinder; nonetheless it was truly one of the most awful things I've ever had to be a part of. I'm grateful that we had the option of curtailing his suffering, but I'm not sure you can ever feel 100% ok with ending a life.
|Resting with his Brother-From-Another-Mother|
The house feels just a little emptier without him. Huff has to be convinced that it's ok to eat the first bowl of food I dish out in the morning; Simon always used to eat first. Pacey showed a surprising depth of understanding about the whole thing and seems to be ok with it, though we never know exactly what's ticking over in his mind. Brighton asks each day about Simon and why he can't "sleep" here. She misses him. We all miss him.