Mathias was purchased a LONG time ago by two young twenty somethings who figured they’d want a dog sometime down the road. They did a little research, found a breeder, didn’t have the money to pay for him with cash out-right and brought him into their home and life knowing not one thing about raising a dog, much less one that’d weigh over 90 pounds at some point.
He did a lot of puppy things. Like tearing the toys we got for him up into shreds just to get the plastic squeaker out from within (we stopped buying those). Chewing the corner of the window frame of our first place we rented when we moved to NC (miraculously we didn’t get charged for it). He even started to chew pits into the dry wall when he went through the initial bouts of separation anxiety when we left him at first to go to work.
So yeah, he challenged us. But more than any of that, more than any irritating spectacle that would make you sigh, shake your head and chuckle; he loved. He loved everything!
And as he grew, so did his love. We knew from the get-go that he was a sensitive soul. I don’t think he ever knew the physical space he took up, which was ironic because he especially loved smaller things. Tiny dogs, cats, human babies, he was especially gentle with all of them, giving light nuzzles and the tiniest of kisses. It was as if he knew the world was this huge and daunting existence and that it’s inhabitants, all of them, needed care and love every once and a while.
One memory in particular comes to me from when Mel was up north caring for her mother while she was battling cancer. I’d just got off the phone with her. She’d been gone for weeks and I’d been home making everything else fall into place. I’d been strong (trying to anyways) up until that point but all of the sudden it was just too much. I cracked. I immediately started sobbing uncontrollably and took a knee trying to pull myself together. At that point when my chest was the tightest and my heart was squeezed completely, Mathias came over, reached up and literally put a paw on my shoulder. It was the only way he knew how to hug me, and man did I ever need it. He was the only one that ever did that for me during that awful period.
Now, in full disclosure, I’m not a terribly open person emotion-wise. I got a ton of support during that time in my life, but Mel and I are intensely private people, so often when the fit hits the proverbial shan we have each other, but what happens if half of that equation is elsewhere?
It was just such a snapshot of how Mathias was…
As time passed we had many trials and tribulations. We added an an other! Her name is Cadence and she is equally as wonderful (that’s not parent logic, she truly is)! And even though he wasn’t terribly enamored with her at first, he grew to love her a lot. Years went by, wonderful years! Years of laughter, grins that made your face hurt and tears, the happy ones.
But, then he started having a lot health problems and without going into a lot of gruesome details, we had to turn our focus on how to make him “better”. It was the least we could do.
3 years, countless dollars and not a whole hell of a lot to show for it, we sat back and watched a grand animal who could run like the wind, be incrementally reduced to a pet who loved us no less, but couldn’t even stand up on his own, much less walk farther than 6 feet.
It broke us to do so, but it came abundantly clear he wasn’t going to make this “easy on us”.
We had to let him go…
The uncompromising dignity that he afforded the rest of the world had to finally be returned to him. And while it devastated us to do so, we knew then and there exactly we had to do.
So it was then, in a nondescript vet’s examination room (a truly exceptional vet by the way), that we boycotted every attempt by our furry son and said goodbye.
The plunger went down, it was quick, incredibly gentle and with a nod and some droopy eyelids, he went to sleep.
And just like that, the world was without Mathias… and so were we. He left 2 parents, two furry sisters (Midnight and Cadence) and a whole slew of admirers. Even at the very end we had strangers remarking how beautiful he was and he was. Utterly.
So it is with the heavy heart of a father, that I say goodbye to one of the most incredible beings I have had the privilege of meeting. I don’t know what happens when we die, I truly don’t, but I sincerely hope I get to see him again.
You taught me so much and I can only hope to apply some of it to myself somehow. You will be missed “Little Man”.
More than you could’ve ever known.