Day 3 and Counting

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It’s now been a couple of days since we let Gunther go.  The weight of the loss on my heart isn’t as constant or always so obvious but it remains there waiting for the next moment to raise something that brings back into focus the degree to which our little guy was ingrained in most everything we do.  I still find myself all of a sudden in the midst of a sob or two as I again get hit with “something is missing” and it’s Gunther.  We, as a family, haven’t stopped doing all the things that need to be done since none of us have ever worked that way but I for one feel it is as much of going thru the motions as anything else as I wait for time to help balance the fantastic memories with the pain of a loss that will never ever really go away.  We are doing a lot of talking about Gunther, what he meant to us and how much we loved him.  We are looking at a lot of pictures and I’ve been working on an ever-evolving slide show presentation with music as a means to get every ounce of him in my head possible.  I think it is good that we never really took him for granted and we recognized and knew how lucky we were to have him be part of our family – I just don’t think any of us wanted to acknowledge how much given we knew this day would come.  We have never been a family that is always looking for more as we know what we have is good and that we have been blessed with much more than many get.  That doesn’t change the pain and the heartache we are feeling but it makes it easier to look at the time Gunther gave us and it allows us to begin to heal – however slowly.

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Where it is probably most evident of Gunther’s place in our lives is the number of instances or situations where one of us will do something, usually pretty simple and an everyday activity, where you look for that little face or you hear those doggy footsteps working their way to you.  The mornings and evenings are the toughest since I would say that over the past year or so it is those times where we have adjusted the most to Gunther’s needs as his health changed.  I spent a lot of mornings, especially after late nights, grousing at Gunther at the 7am or early rise from sleep but that quickly dissipated as soon as he jumped down off the bed and the tail started that wagging and he gave you that big grin that it was time to start the day.  At night, he let us know he was tired and wanted to go to bed – but not by himself as he needed to be snuggled up tight against one of us.  Annoying on one hand that he “made” us go upstairs to watch TV in our bed but that feeling quickly disappeared when he planted himself against your leg.   This was a dog that needed people touch – and we now realize how much that took us to needing Gunther-touch.

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Today there was something else that became very evident to me of the change in our house without Gunther.  Yes it is quieter and he wasn’t a noisy dog but he was always where you were and that meant he was always on the move and you could always anticipate that when you moved from one room to another, he would soon follow.  For the first time this morning when my wife was out with a friend, I realized that I was really alone in the house.  Yes, I’ve been by myself with no wife or kids in the house with me but I always knew Gunther was somewhere around, waiting to hear me move or call him, always ready to stop what he was doing to join me in anything and everything.  It was very clear as I ate my cereal today and I managed to somehow have one of the Cheerios pop out of the bowl – nothing surprising to anyone in my family.  The difference was today I didn’t need to see if I could be faster than Gunther to grab it off the floor …and I never really fought that hard to get it before him anyhow.

In the beginning...

A short 13 years ago…

I Lost a Good Friend Today…

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We had our ray of sunshine and spark leave our family today.  Gunther, who has been a full-fledged member of our family for the last 13 years finally reached that point where we had to say goodbye.  No good way to do, no easy way to deal with it.  It sucks, it hurts, we’re all lost – you can’t spin it to make it feel better.  We feel good he is no longer in pain or discomfort and we know we did the right thing…but it still sucks.  I can’t say enough about what he added to our lives other than he was a key part of it from that day my son and I drove 3-4 hours to get him to the very long morning we had today knowing it where the day was going to end up.  I’ve become a weeping idiot, not knowing when in the middle of a sentence I’m going to get hit with it and the waterworks start. I don’t think that is going away any time soon – good thing I work from home.

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Gunther was special to us – I can’t recall anyone who met him that didn’t love him immediately – and he was equally ecstatic to make your acquaintance.  He protected our house from everything you could imagine – from other dogs to deer to snakes and even those evil bunnies (which made us all cringe a bit) but he was doing his job.  He was fearless – 100lbs of dog in an 18lb body (at least for most of his life).  He was a role model of “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog” – but he was gentle with people and he was truly a people dog.  In some ways he was the core of our family – he watched my kids go thru school and college, as they left (and returned) as adults.  He was there with my wife for all those years I worked on the road and he was the first one to always greet me when I got home.  He loved the kennel when we went on vacation – we called it his “trip to the spa” – he would walk into through the door and immediately forget who we were and run to get in the door to the back.  Inevitably, when we picked him up he was hoarse for a couple of days as he was quite the barker with all the other dogs vacationing with him.

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I’m going to miss him quite a bit. While he slowed down quite a bit as a result of several bouts of pancreatitis and age, his spirit never dimmed.  It was in his eyes and in his stance.  I no longer will be greeted with that short Jack Russell tail going 100mph.  We won’t see him frantically and unsuccessfully going from one deck planter to the other trying to get those pesky chipmunks. He’ll never take on another snake, grab it with a quickness that you had to see to believe and then complete a shake or two or three of his head snap it in two and then walk away after again protecting his family.  I’ve lost my driving buddy – I’ll have to go get my afternoon Dunkin Donuts by myself.  I have a feeling my reaction when the Dunkin Donuts people ask where my friend is not going to be a good one.

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But I’m better for Gunther being in my life.  I know this pain and hurt will fade and the memories and stories of the last 13 years of Gunther will slowly begin to help ease the hurt.  He was my friend.