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Why I'm Not a Dog Person: An Ode to Gruffy and Hosehead

Gruffy look-alike

Gruffy look-alike


I got Gruffy for Christmas when I was roughly eight. He was a fancy store bought Lhasa Apso and I named him Gruffy because, well, I was eight.

He was the most adorable little ball of fluff you ever saw, hardly bigger than a butter dish and with these sweet little raisin eyes glowing out from the white-gray bangs that fell across his face. He was cuteness incarnate.

So we, my mother and I, took him out onto the back lawn and set him in the spongy remnants of the long dead grass, dry but whitish, almost snowlike for a sunny California Christmas day. Gruffy's little legs could not have been more than an inch-and-a-half long. Which was pretty much hilarious because the grass was at least an inch and three-quarters deep. He leapt with all his puppy might through the depths of it with the most joyous eagerness as he bound back and forth between my mother and me in ebullient puppy glee. Watching him coil up his tiny haunches for each mighty leap, gather himself to hurl forward another two inches through the grass, plunging best he could with his fuzzy little belly never clearing the spongy depths of the lawn... it was hilarious, and all the two of us could do was laugh and wipe the tears of joy out of the corners of our eyes as he bobbed and bounced with his bright eyes and little flopping ears.

Cockleburs + fuzzy dog = super knots

Cockleburs + fuzzy dog = super knots



Not this

Not this

Catching Up and Moving Along

I grew up on a cattle ranch, in case you didn't know, and our nice house was like an oasis dropped into the middle of a great ocean of pasture land and low, rolling foothills. And, well, the open range is not the greatest place for a dog that only stands eight inches at the shoulder and barely clears 20 pounds. Not to mention looks like a professional janitor's mop. You guys know what a cocklebur is? How about foxtails? Yeah, has nothing to do with a Fox.

Almond trees grow low to the ground, with wide, welcoming boughs.

Almond trees grow low to the ground, with wide, welcoming boughs.

Ground squirrel in a hole

Ground squirrel in a hole

When he got older, Gruffy could actually climb up into my tree house in the lower limbs of an almond tree.

When he was big (lol), he wasn't allowed in the house, but my bedroom window was low enough that I could pull him up inside at night. Technically it's his fault that I got fleas in my carpet and my bed, but, whatever. Parents are so anal about stuff, I swear.

Attack of the Ground Squirrels

Okay, I need a bit of set up here, so bear with me:

One of the biggest problems for cattle ranchers is the damage ground squirrels can cause. They are rodents like mice and rats, and they breed at incredible rates. They make huge "squirrel towns" and when their population gets big, basically they turn large sections of land into swiss cheese. Now, I love swiss cheese on a sandwich, but the thing is, these squirrel towns are built amongst fields of knee high grass. Squirrels aren't stupid. They hide them so every coyote and hawk in the neighborhood can't see them easily in the tall grass. But they are there.



The problem for cattle ranchers is that horses and cattle run along and can't see them either. They trot about doing their horse and cattle thing and, not seeing the holes, stuff a foot into one and, given how big and heavy they are, plus how much momentum they have going because they are large animals after all... snapppp, there went a leg.

You all know what happens to horses or cows that bust a leg, right? If you don't, check out Barbaro's story.

So, ok, what does that have to do with Gruffy?

Well, for a few years in a row, the weather and other stuff, for whatever reason, turned out to be totally perfect for squirrels to multiply. The numbers were absolutely insane. They were literally everywhere. Their little squirrel chirps, high pitched shrieks that sound like a bullet ricocheting off a rock, literally filled the air constantly no matter where you went on the ranch. It was freakish how many there were, like the rats in Hamelin who needed the Pied Piper to draw them out. Only we didn't have any whack-job with a flute.

So, after two years of this, and several thousand dollars of lost livestock or at the very least insane vet bills, something had to be done. My dad called the County and they sent out a County "trapper" to do this special, permit-only fancy County poison thing.

Basically, they sent a dude out with these big bags of oats (just like in your Quaker Oatmeal box) but stained yellow, coated with this super poison that the County licenses only a few people to be able to use. This stuff is hardcore. If you look at it too long your mom will die... it's that kind of strong.

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So they told us to lock up all our pets for two weeks from the day the poisoning started and the process began. We all had to take bags of this stuff on horseback and ride through every single acre of every single field and toss a glove-covered handful of these nuclear oats at any squirrel hole that we saw. It took us four days with like six guys working to ride over every inch of land. But finally it was done.

"Two weeks," the County dude reminded us. "Your pets stay locked up. No exceptions." Which of course we did.

A hand full per squirrel hole is all it takes.

A hand full per squirrel hole is all it takes.

Well, it turns out that the reason they tell you this is because this poison is so powerful that if, say, a squirrel eats it and dies (which they do, because that's the point) their body will lie there dead and then some other critter will come along and eat the corpse. Now it might be another squirrel, it might be a coyote, it might just be worms or a snake or snail. Anyway, those die too. Anything that eats the poisoned squirrel is dead. So, now that second thing is lying there wherever it finally died. So along comes another coyote or a hawk or bird and eats that one. Well, guess what, buh-bye; it's dead too. Same for the thing that eats that. By the fourth death, it's not instant or near instant death anymore though, it's more of a neurological breakdown thing. They actually lose their minds, panic and run themselves to death. But at least it's not, you know, organ failure.

So anyway, guess what happened to Gruffy at the end of two weeks.

Yeah, he found something not quite dead enough in the cycle.

I heard him barking his ass off from a distance and it sounded weird as hell, so I ran out into this long, circular gravel road that runs around the front of our house and looked out into the field where I heard his barking coming from. At first I just saw the grass bending in a wave approaching me, fast, a source-less parting in the sea of yellow blades. Then he busted out of the grass onto the gravel driveway and, I mean, he was hell bent for somewhere. I could tell something was wrong, so I crouched down and called to him, "Come on, Gruff, what's up?" with arms outstretched because he was one of those little dogs who would leap into your arms.

But he didn't. He sprinted past me, his little legs pumping like tiny pistons, churning the gravel out behind him in a wake. Never even looked at me. Just ran past, trapped in some horrific terror taking place in his poisoned mind.

He shot by me and ran down into the almond orchard we had (the same one with the tree house he used to climb up in) and through that towards the barn beyond. I couldn't see him even though I was running after him, but I heard him hit the hogwire fence on the far end, heard the wire stretch metallically and the creak of it against the wooden posts. Do you have any idea how hard you would have to kick that wire to make it make a sound like that? Then he was gone.

Never saw him again. My step mom told me years later that she found his body under a pile of wood over three-quarters of a mile away. They didn't tell me though because I'd already gotten past the loss. Gruffy was my first dog. The first one that wasn't just another "animal on the ranch."

You'd think I would have learned.

Not him, but sure looks like him. I hope it is him.

Not him, but sure looks like him. I hope it is him.


Ok, so I'll try to keep this one brief.

I kind of got stuck with Hosehead. My roommate at the time (I was like 20 I think) brought two puppies home and told me the black and brown one was mine. I was like, "WTF am I going to do with a f-ing puppy?" (I wasn't stupid, and Gruffy pretty much cured me from ever getting attached to a dog as a pet again.) She was like, "They were going to die, so, I saved them. I like this one [a gray and white one, Aussie-Queensland mix] so you get the other one." She knew I wouldn't say "no" because she knew I was lame like that. (Stupid artist types are freaking easy in some ways.) (Oh, and so you know, yes my roommate was a chick, and no, it wasn't like that. We were roomies. Period. And friends.)

So here I'm stuck with this damn puppy that's about the size of a can of Alpo. He was cute as hell though. Determined not to be a sappy dog owner again, ever, plus being 20ish, I named him Hosehead after the dog from the great movie Strange Brew. By picking a beer induced, non-sentimental name, I figured I would be able to prevent myself from becoming attached.

Tribute video to Hosehead.

Yeah, that didn't work out.

Hosehead was hilarious, loving and true. For starters, the damn thing got Parvo like four months in and I had to go into debt to pay the medical bills. (Vets can suck my ass, by the way). But, I couldn't let them put him down. (Did I mention vets can suck my ass?). (No offense to any vets, by the way, just, .... Anyway, if you are a vet that doesn't totally suck you get why you can suck my ass so you don't mind).

So anyway, Hosehead turned out to be like the perfect dog and he totally lived up to his name. (I did mention I was only 20 right?), so we had these big parties all the time and people were drinking everywhere pretty much all the time at my house, especially on weekends.

Well, Hosehead was a monster party dog. He was the original "dawg" really. He would go around the parties and, because we only had so much furniture, people would set their beers down by their feet wherever they sat down. Hosehead, being the perfect party dog, would knock over the cans and bottles of beer and lap the beer up as it went "glug glug glug" out of the tipped over bottle or can into the carpet. He was awesome like that. Total alchy and completely hilarious. God I loved that dog.

We actually trained him to get beer out of the fridge and out of the creek if we went camping or fishing, but he didn't like the clink of the bottles on his teeth and, frankly, with cans he had this habit of "accidentally" pricking through the aluminum and drinking a lot of it before you got it delivered to where you were. Not to mention the mess. I still don't buy the "accident" thing.

So anyway, he was cool and he slept on my feet every night and chicks worshipped him. A perfect dog.

Well, we had to move out of that house. I found another house briefly, but then the rental arrangement fell apart and I was trapped having to move into an apartment. I was young and poor and just didn't have options financially.

I called everyone I'd ever met begging someone to take my dog. Just for a while. I begged my parents. I begged everyone. Even my boss.

But no one would take him.

I got stuck taking him to the pound.

I swear to god that was one of the lowest moments of my life. I had to betray that dog who had never done anything to me ever but give me love and trust. I had to drag him into that place, that sterile row of concrete and chain link... he didn't even follow willingly... HIM, the dog that would follow me into Hell and be leaping around absolutely giddy for the experience, he knew... he could smell my betrayal on my skin.

I pulled him in, choking back the tears as they opened the gate to the pen and I pushed him inside. I garbled a drowning "I'm sorry" through tears of shame and regret and walked out and never looked back. I didn't even have the courage to look back at him. I abandoned Hosehead.

I tell myself to this day that he was so sweet that someone surely took him. He was young, after all. People like young dogs. And cute. Trained too. So. Maybe.


I'll never own a dog again.


Shadesbreath (author) from California on May 01, 2012:

Thanks for reading, LR45. It's pretty amazing how strongly our love for the animals in our lives stays with us over time. (I have a cat hounding me to give it treats this very second. I wasn't going to, but I suppose in light of these thoughts popping up, I should, eh? Looks like it's Slayer's lucky morning).

LR45 from Wales, UK on May 01, 2012:

A bitter sweet wonderful piece. As a dog lover and owner of two JR terriers, I can both sympathise and laugh at these memories that obviously have affected you deeply. Thanks for sharing.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on February 10, 2012:

Thanks, Tenkay. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for saying so.

TENKAY from Philippines on February 10, 2012:

Well written article, entertaining, and educational too.

Ellen G. Paiva on October 08, 2011:

it was educational. I'm not from horse country.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on October 07, 2011:

LOL, sorry, Ellen. I try not to write serious stuff too often, as I enjoy humor in the main. Every once in a while, an article like this pops out. Quick, go find one the ones that has my bad sketch art in it. Those are meant for laughs.

Ellen G Paiva on October 07, 2011:

I know the feeling. I had to make quite a few decisions which I feel guilty for today. I hope it was a no-kill shelter...sorry. Now I feel crappy. I need to read a funny one now. Actually I better get to back to work so I dont get fired...I need to pay vet bills.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on April 16, 2010:

Minetruly, You're probably right and I might have been stupid. At 19-20 years old, I wasn't at the height of being "on the stick" as they say. I exhausted every avenue I could think of at the time, and Craigslist wouldn't be invented for another decade or so. But, that's the advantage you have being able to look back into my past and pass judgment on me. I am glad that hear that you saved Teddy.

Yttrbium, that's an excellent point. And I hope I get to wait a long, long time. I've watched others deal with when/whether to put parents in homes and, yeah, there's got to be some sense of betrayal there too if you haven't exhausted everything. But, that's a whole new conversation, not one for this hub I suppose. Very interesting and thought provoking comment. Thank you for it.

yttrbium on April 16, 2010:

If you think it was tough to lose your dogs, just wait 'till you start losing people.

minetruly on April 16, 2010:

My family just adopted a dog name Teddy. He's cuddly, playful, and well-trained. He had belonged to a boy who had mild brain damage. The boy grew up and moved out to live on his own, but he couldn't take the dog. Teddy went to the boy's grandmother, but her dog was mean to him. So he went to the boy's parents. The parents found they had a hard time taking care of him and giving him the attention he sought. So they searched craigslist for ads of people looking for dogs. (They'd been warned not to post him on craigslist, or some creep could take him and put him in a dogfight or something.) They found my ad looking for a loving dog. We met, and my family loved the dog and the dog's family decided we weren't wackos. Now Teddy is a happy and beloved member of our family! We even email the old family occasionally to let them know how he is.

I hate to make you feel worse, but... you were really stupid to bring him to the pound. You should have advertised "free to good home," met the potential adopters to make sure they weren't creeps, and given him to them in exchange for their contact information and a promise to at least send you a yearly update.

I hope you at least took him to a no-kill shelter.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on February 28, 2010:

OliversMum, I could swear I responded and said thanks for your comment. Sometimes they don't register. Guess that was one of them.

Well, ... well, that's a lot of dogs in your past. You get credit for being strong enough to face their loss. I can stand losing a cat. Might bring a tear or two, but not like a dog. At least so far. We got one going now that has doglike personality. Might be tough. Hope he makes it 20 years like some cats do.

Well. on February 26, 2010:

Well, that just sucks. We had a lot of dogs, before i was born we had 2 great danes, then we got a golden retriever. We had her till she was so old, she couldn't even walk up the stars anymore. We had to put her down. Then my mom got another dog. She was going to briong it to a barn because she didn't have time for her. But the day before she brought her. She put her outside to go bathroom. And she ranaway. Now we got a yorkipoo.......(RAT in my opinion) Hes a cute lil' poodleish like yorki thingamajig. Dad has 2 cats we got 3. :]

oliversmum from australia on February 12, 2010:

Shadesbreath.Hi. Two very heartbreaking stories,They made me cry,I absolutely love Dogs (cats as well) but dogs are my favourite,they are so faithful and give unconditional love, but I also see where you were coming from, I'm so sorry it didn't work for you,maybe one day it will,I hope so.Thanks for telling this story. :) :)

Shadesbreath (author) from California on December 23, 2009:

LOL, Stan. Yes, I wrote that out just for folks like you who might think it was some new species of half-squirrel or even more shocking, discover the truth that it is a squirreltar, which is like a centaur except a squirrel top with earthworm bottom instead of a human/horse combo. Had you figured that out, you would be truly spun. (Cheers, to you, btw, appreciate your reads on my hubs here recently. Merry Christmas to you.)

Stan Fletcher from Nashville, TN on December 19, 2009:

Another great one!

On another note, I wanted to point out how grateful I am that you included the words 'in a hole' on your ground squirrel caption. It never occurred to me that ground squirrels live in the... der..., ground. I had missed the loosed dirt around the edges as well. The fact that it looked like some new form of half-ground squirrel confused me. A ground sqirrel with just two front legs wasn't making sense. That is until I read the words, 'in a hole' and then it all became crystal clear. I am one of the people who needs the new blue label to tell if my Coors Light is cold. I read your hub about me. I'm pissed.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on November 20, 2009:

I sure hope so, sbeakr. I want to believe, but maybe my sense of guilt keeps me doubting as part of my self flagellation. My wife has forced cats into my life, occasionally we get one that doesn't suck too bad. I like to get them from the pound as part of trying to make up for what I did, or at the very least get them from places where the pound was the likely next step without intervention.

Thanks again for the comments. Nice to see you occasioning my hubs again.

sbeakr on November 20, 2009:

Christ man. Someone saved Hosehead, I promise you. Awesome dogs don't sit in the pound very long. My first dog was a lean Rottie mix named Sophie...she was anemic, covered in ticks and starving to death at 5 weeks. I saved her, and then a year and a half later she was shot and dumped by two rednecks in Saginaw, TX. I actually saw the dumping part.

Anyway, I get it. I used to get really pissed off at people who abandoned or let their pets die for any reason. But it's rarely that simple.

Hilarious and devastating hub.

salmon on November 27, 2008:

Wonderfully written hub. I'm still in tears even after reading all these comments! *sniffle sniffle*

Oh, and the Strange Brew movie looks stupid and I hope I'll watch it soon. XP

Shadesbreath (author) from California on October 20, 2008:

You may be right, Ateeq. :)

ateeqvbhatti on October 20, 2008:

I'm sure there is some type of feeling there, but I'm not sure. It is a defense mechanism, so I would assume it not hurt too much, since its supposed to happen when frightened.

Clive Fagan from South Africa on October 19, 2008:

Shades I wish you luck and know that with your talent you can only be successful

Shadesbreath (author) from California on October 19, 2008:

Yes, this stuff just pops out, Sixty. And it's prompted by almost anything. I joked around about Thalia in another thread, but I'm only sort of kidding about that kind of thing. And yes, I do have time to write. I gave myself some time "off" so to speak to finish my current novel project, work on towards my master's and just, be an artist full time for once. It's been a little over two years, and I'm glad I did it. Unfortunately, it's not paying very well, so I'm going to have to get a real job again. Contract work has been great, but, in this economy, it's not enough now. Stupid economy.

Clive Fagan from South Africa on October 19, 2008:

As I said to you earlier, we share an empathy. Wonderful story . Beautifully told. Tell me does this stuff live inside you and pop out when prompted by comments, a story or another hub. Just curious, your creative juices are something else and I take you have time for some serious writing too?

Great hub.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on October 18, 2008:

Yeah, I think having your life set up for two dogs, makes just one (sooner or later) seem like it's just not quite right, so you go get one eventually. Still having one helps you remember the good parts of dogness rather than going from having a dog and then having nothing.

spryte from Arizona, USA on October 18, 2008:

Well Shade, your theory of keeping spares on hand is absolutely true. The problem is, when one dies and despite swearing that I'm trying to cut back, I do something stupid like go to an animal shelter...

It doesn't make the pain any less...but it makes it easier to take the risk again.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on October 18, 2008:

Tough to make yourself start over. I think the secret to being a continued dog owner is to keep two that are about five or six years apart in age, so you always "are a dog person" and you replace the ones that die eventually so your other one has a companion.

And yeah, there's definitely a difference between a ranch dog, which is just an animal on the farm like all the rest, maybe a little more, but still... and an actual pet.

Dr. Jones on October 18, 2008:

Shades, to quote George Carlin "That's the great thing about dogs, they don't live too long. When one dies, take it to the pet store, plop it on the counter and say, 'give me another one of these, this was a good god damn dog'." I get getting the dog that was not just another ranch dog. But luckily for me that didn't really happen until I was 25. I had dogs on the ranch, but they were still ranch dogs. That and my dogs didn't stick around too long. But there were always others.

What was weird was when I got my dog at 25 and he was going to be an "outside dog", never happened, he started sleeping inside and we hung out. Now I have two dogs, plus a wife and a kid. I think I got another 7-10 years with my dog, and an additional 4 with the other. Then NEW DOG TIME! Of course, the whole retraining will be a bitch.

Pam Roberson from Virginia on October 10, 2008:

Oh no Shade. :( Two awful and extremely sad dog experiences. Thank you for sharing this. You're a dog person for sure.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on October 09, 2008:

It is, Andrew. Give your dog a hug and some wet food right now even if it's not time. lol. Trust me.

Andrew on October 09, 2008:

Man those are some touching stories!

I can't imagine what it would feel like to take my dog to the pound. Must be awful!

Shadesbreath (author) from California on October 08, 2008:

No you don't.

mumz on October 08, 2008:

Shades, Shades, Shades... You know you want another dog. Growing up in the country also, we had dogs given to us. My parents would have friends that were no longer able to take care of a dog because they were moving into smaller homes or apartments. Your stories of Gruffy and Hosehead were sad but remember they were loved! ***See's a puppy in Shadesbreath's future***

Shadesbreath (author) from California on October 07, 2008:

Even a little dog makes a big wound when it's gone. Call me a coward, but I just can't do that to myself on purpose.

And, like, whoah, that possum took out the whole place. That's seriously hard core.

ajcor from NSW. Australia on October 07, 2008:

Loved this hub - I am totally a dog lover the good the bad and the ugly - be a risk taker and get a dog again - just a very small one - dare I say dogs are much easier to get on with than cats!

re. Rochelle Frank's comment I/we have just come back from a week at the coast where we found that a possum had got in "down the chimney flu" It created a filthy mess - everywhere and in every room bar one - it even turned on the television by swinging off the curtains to land on the tv thereby pushing the remote onto the floor & then jumping on it (from the outside we thought intruders!) We think it may have been watching "dreay bl..dy days of our lives" - then obviously our hairy friend thought it might like to cook itself a chop on the griller as I found it open and adorned with possum crap - so whilst our brothers thought it hilarious it took my sister and I about two days to wash every thing in Possums sound a bit like your squirrels - quite apart from being a protected species (so you can't give them a little trip to the country!) you just wouldn't want one as a pet. cheers.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on October 07, 2008:

That's like having a cat AND a dog all in one pet. LOL.

(Now, I'm off to read your hub too.)

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on October 07, 2008:

This was a while back-- look for my latest hub about "pocket mouse".

I have just done a bunch of research on why you shouldn't have a squirrel as a pet-- and am going to follow up on that. I know of a person who had a wild squirerel come down the flue in their mountain cabin while they were gone. Besides getting soot all over everything, it shredded the curtains and furniture, as well as chewing into the cupboard to eat their cereals and macaroni.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on October 07, 2008:

You have a pet squirrel? Not that I don't find it credible. I know the ones on the university campus are so friendly they'll come take food off your plate if you eat outside. So, like an actual one that comes inside?

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on October 07, 2008:

Great stories, well told. Who could help but love a dog who brings you beer? That last journey is always a hard one.

The ground squirrel photo reminded me of my pet.

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on October 07, 2008:

I have a dog for the first time in my life (excepting a three-day adventure when I was 11 years old...another story, another day).

My dog Cin is a great big old lady, a rescue.

I think about what's going to happen to her: When I die before she does; When she pushes me to my limits; When her vet bills exceed 5,000 (they are up around 4,000 now, and I've only had her for a year).

I am not sure it's worth it. I just don't know yet. I am not a dog person. I like her, I don't think I love her, but what I do know is that she is teaching me something about life I never would have learned any other way. She is not a child to be educated and escorted into the world...she is a child to always have my protection and nurturing. She will never walk out the door, saying, "Mom, love you, see you later!"

I am touched by your story.

Gruffy and Hosehead taught lessons for life. I think Cin will teach me, but I don't know when or how.

Thumbs up!

Thank you so much for sharing.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on October 06, 2008:

I know I am, but it's my lie, so I'll tell it how I want. heh.

Marian Swift from San Francisco Bay Area on October 06, 2008:

Shadesbreath, hate to break this to you, but you're totally a dog person.  Much more so than some dog owners I know.

This Hub brought back a few memories ...

Shadesbreath (author) from California on October 06, 2008:

Pgrundy, I think you still got to go with the plausible deniability on that "nice house with room to run" story.  Beats a broken heart.  And I can't wait for your cat hub.  This sob story is totally Marisue's fault.  It's like dominoes falling 

Marisue, glad you laughed and cried.  All I can say is, "you started it."  lol.

Storyteller, my wife says it's worth it too.  I'm not sure what it is about women, but y'all seem more willing to walk into a situation knowing you're going to get burned than us guys are.  I mean, look at what Spryte just said about her old man, look at how Christoph went to cats - essentially what I did via my wife.  I mean, they don't call sad, misery-making movies "chick flicks" for nothing either.  I think women are just stronger in that regard, more willing take the hit.  Either that or guys are smarter and able to avoid one.  I don't claim to know which. (And that's so cool about your dog raising cats. I think that's ironic isn't it? lol)

Yeah, Misty you pretty much nailed it on the dog person thing.  :(

And Sprtye, I don't blame your husband.  The sad thing is, he's still going to get sucked in.  I tried hard as hell not to like my wife's last damn cat and got sucked in.  I didn't even play with that bastard (plus she didn't really pay much attention to me.) but... hmmm, maybe I'll save the rest of this for the hubmob thing. 

spryte from Arizona, USA on October 06, 2008:

Shade - Good stuff...*sniffle*

My husband feels the same way that you do. He had this dog when I moved here....traveled everywhere with him. Benny died and I made the mistake of bringing home a new puppy a year later thinking it would cheer him up. Bad call. When he said he didn't want another dog ever because it hurt too much to lose them...he really meant it.

Well, he's okay with Nacho though...but you can see that he still tries, even after a year and a half, not to get attached.

Cindy Lawson from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 06, 2008:

Wonderful Hub Shades, my guess is that you a true dog lover and will avoid the pain losing them brings by never having any more. The stories were so sad of what happened to your dogs, and you managed to convey this perfectly within your words.

Barbara from Stepping past clutter on October 06, 2008:

Yeah, dogs. Gotta love em. Our schnauzer raised kittens from three litters. Amazing fellows, really. Get another one. :) They're worth the sad.

marisuewrites from USA on October 06, 2008:

Aw Shadesbreath, I'm still crying and laughing at the same time. I swear, these animals are just part of our souls. Now how am I going to get through today??

really good stuff, and sad.

pgrundy on October 06, 2008:

Animals will rip your heart out, it's true. On the upside, now I'm looking forward to rewatching "Strange Brew"!

I had a dog once. I was about eight. My parents gave this dog to me as a puppy--a little terrier mutt, and I named him "Tag." Well, about six months later, Tag was the size of a Shetland pony and was fond or busting through the front door and running all over the neighborhood while we chased him down for like, hours. That summer I went to camp, and when I got back by parents had, I kid you not, taken him to "...a nice house in the country where he could run as much as he wanted."


I can't even BELIEVE they had the nerve to tell me such a lame story instead of, "we killed your dog, he was a pain in the ass," but that's parents for you.

Great hub, Shadesbreath. My condolences. You know, now I have to write my $5000 'free' cat hub as counterpoint. I have no choice now.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on October 06, 2008:

Yeah, it would be funny if you got the dog back after he wiped into the fence lol.  My daughter got up and scared the Sh-t out of our two cats who were sleeping on the back of the couch today... they like totally spazzed, hit the window (practically broke the blinds) and crashed onto the floor behind the couch, where they split and darted one into the kitchen and one into the laundry room, the laundry room one having hit the springy door stop thing on his panicked way past so that in the soundtrack of their cowardice I got to listen the "Thwwummmmmmmm" of it while I laughed at how chicken they both are.

Animals are fun. lol.

Tim from Philadelphia, PA on October 05, 2008:

All do respect, I laughed at Gruffy's story simply because I imagined my shitzu running into a fence. Otherwise, both were very sad, the last story topped them.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on October 05, 2008:

Lissie, yeah, they are a huge responsibility. They will never move out and live on their own and they will die in under twenty years. But you will love them almost as much as children... well, or at least with something that is akin to that sort of thing. That's just too much to ask of myself. Maybe I'm just shallow or something. The cliché is that it's "better to have loved and lost," which probalby still counts for dogs, but, you know what... I've lost twice. So, I have the experience. I'm good. Thanks. I'm fine with being shallow now. It's much easier.


Yeah, I read your hub; I figured you would get this one all the way. I love my cats (my wife's cats to be honest) and I feel bad when they die. But it's not the same. Safer. I suppose that's cruel to say outloud, but the cats just don't love the way dogs do. (Don't tell Slayer I said that.)

Anyway, I'm glad you liked the way the story came out. It's funny, you asked if I "whipped it out" so I went and looked on Marisue's hub (which I read and was then prompted to write this... I guess it's about three hours and some change to write it. Not sure if that's whipped or not, but, the memories were easy to access after reading Marisue's wonderful hub.

Christoph Reilly from St. Louis on October 05, 2008:

Oh, man! I feel these experiences like my own. Speaking of vets sucking ass, my little one got parvo from the damn parvo vaccination shot, then they charged me a fortune to save his life. My dalmation did the same thing with beer (though he didn't fetch). Once he ate a bag of..uh...Oregano I left on a table. He was so fu**ed up, walking into walls and stuff. I was terrified I was going to have to take him the the Animal Hospital (again!..he had frequent flyer miles) and tell them what he ate. I started feeding him coca cola. I don't know why. I guess I thought the caffiene would help him straighten up.

Really well told, captivating and engaging, taking the reader along nice and smooth. That's exactly why I couldn't get a dog again (and how I wound up with a cat who's trying to kill me).

Seriously, man. It's funny, touching and just supurb. Do you just whip this stuff out? As fine a piece of writing as I have ever enjoyed. Such a simple and common experience, but so difficult to write about. I've thought about it for years, but I'm afraid of it. You did an excellent job here!

Thanks, man!

Elisabeth Sowerbutts from New Zealand on October 05, 2008:

Oh that's so sad shadesbreath. I totally understand. I inherited my mother's dog when she died and then had to buy a house because of the problem of renting, oh and stay in the country pretty much until he died many years later. I never considered not doing those things: I guess my mother would like me to have stayed at home at some stage when she was alive, but having the dog meant it never occurred to me not to give him a home until the day he died!

I am dogless now too - they are a much bigger responsibility than kids in my opinion: kids are easier to adopt out!

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