We lost a little friend
Ka and I took yesterday off work, expecting to share a rare day of down time. Instead we took Elway, our noble terrier mutt extraordinaire, on his final ride.
We knew the day would come soon -- he was diagnosed with late-stage lymphoma last month -- but hoped for a few more weeks of the ol' Elway vitality. Over the weekend, though, we realized he just could not run the yard, eat or even rest comfortably. We took him to the veterinarian, who agreed the time had come to put Elway to rest.
Now, understand that he was one tough little dog. He lived past age 13 despite a constricted spine and liver problems that had vets years ago saying he would be lucky to make it half that long. Despite a strict diet of low-protein kibble, he sometimes suffered deep seizures and back pain.
Still, he defended our household with a bark at every doorbell-ringer and passer-by, sometimes maddeningly, as in barking when a doorbell rang on a TV program or circling and nipping at the pant cuffs of friends who came to visit. That particular attack pattern resembled the weasel in the old Foghorn Leghorn cartoons, who created a circular cloud of dust around the big rooster's ankle in process of stripping the feathers from it. Somehow, though, Elway distinguished family from friends or vendors -- he never behaved badly around our parents, siblings or children, even if he saw them only rarely.
He loved squeaky toys and would play fetch until he practically dropped from exhaustion. Despite back problems, he was quite the athlete, just like his Hall of Fame namesake.
We picked up Elway from the animal shelter in Indianapolis when he was roughly one year old. On the card in front of his crate, the shelter workers had written, "He grins!" It was true. Anytime either of us came home after a few days away, he'd greet us at the door with both rows of teeth flashing and tail flailing. I never saw another dog do that.
And smart! I would tease Ka, saying she gave Elway complex instructions no dog could understand. She would snap back, "He knows exactly what I mean." Looking back, I think she was right.
We count a half dozen back yards he fortified in the years since, not only in Indy, but also the north suburbs of Dallas and now, west Knoxville. He'd make us mad as hornets when he rooted around in the mulch out back, yet, terrier-stubborn (and, I suppose, bred to root around), he'd do it every time. Yesterday morning, his last trip out to the yard, we spotted him splayed out in it. Just this once, we didn't say anything. The imprint is still there. Damn, we miss the little guy who left it.