My little mate, Wally, died. 36 hours ago. In his sleep, his little giant loving heart gave out. He is my forever hero.
Heart failure, lungs full of fluid, enlarged liver, failing kidneys, tumour on his adrenal glands, going blind, gone deaf, tiny legs chunky with arthritis, my little hero squeezed every ounce of joy from his life, never giving up. He is the most chipper person I have ever met.
Just last week I watched him drag his little body determinately up into the garden bed to bury a chicken drumstick for later. His nose still worked, if nothing else did. He stumbled, fell back, got up, pulled himself up into the bed and buried that sucker. Satisfied, he came back in through the dog door, that was just the littlest bit too high for his lowering undercarriage and trotted off to his favourite position on the carpet under my bed.
On Sunday I took them all to Cockatoo off-leash dog park to get the sniffs and see their friends. Since we moved, the early dark after work and weather have conspired against our visits. They were all pleased to get there. He sniffed, got pats, saw old friends, made new ones and ‘played’ with the new pups. ‘Play’ consisted of tiny jumps in place and arfing at them. In his mind, it was a grand romp. The pups just looked interested and confused.
Wally was my fluffiest floozy. Pepe is actually fluffier, but Wally made no secret of his demands to be petted by all and sundry. If you didn’t notice him noticing you, he’d sit on your foot, if that didn’t work, he’d roll over to display his belly for appreciation. Occasionally I have had to prompt people that he was communicating with them. Don’t know how they resisted him, I never could.
I met Wally 9 years ago, a year and two months after my previous elderly gentleman dog, Mr. Rupert Scruffaluffagus, died. I had waited a year as I wanted to be sure I was looking for another dog person, not a replacement. It took Youngest Daughter and I two months to find him. One Friday night as I fell asleep I heard, go to the RSPCA. That’s a long way, I thought sleepily, but okay. I woke up at 7 on a Saturday morning, bright and ready. I woke the kids and off we went. I caught myself smiling on the drive and reminded myself sternly that we may not find our dog. We got there before they opened. It was adopt a senior free day. I had no idea but it was a senior I wanted. I had younger dogs and needed one near their age, not too old, not too young. I saw him straight away. He was similar in colouring to Scruf but so sad. I was intrigued immediately. While the kids went to find a staff person to let him out to meet us, I stood in front of his cage and blocked other visitors’ view, redirecting their attention to dogs further along. Finally we got to meet him. He was just the right size, just the right everything. i was besotted. We raced home to get the other dogs so they could all meet. It wasn’t love at first sight. It was friendliness all around. He didn’t play ball but he enjoyed sniffing. We loaded him up and home we went.
The best bit was when we got home. He peed inside. That wasn’t it. We went outside. My dogs rang down to the very back of the yard to bark at the dog there. It was their funnest game. Wally’s little ears and curly tail perked up and he scampered after them, as fast as his ten centimetre length legs could take him. I began the traditional voice over, “What are we doing? Oh, we are barking at this dog? Okay. Arf Arf Arf Huff huff that was fun. What are we doing now? Oh we are running over here and barking at this dog? okay Arf Arf Arf Huff huff. Who’s this coming through the little door in the fence? Oh the neighbour dogs? I can go through to their place? Alright! oh, more people, more pats! Hurrah!”
And so began his time with us. He had been the good boy of two elderly men in succession. They’d both been unable to continue to care for him. He’d been returned to the RSPCA twice. He’d never got to dog. With us he was talked to, talked for, played with, chewed bones, arfed, went for walks, got yummy food, got pats, brushed, loved, carried, petted and adored. And he made friends.
I love that my dogs have their own friends, both dog and human. Wally made even more. He had a penchant for older men still, liked but avoided children and definitely had his favourites wherever we went. There were some people he ran to meet. I was his absolute favourite, I’m glad to say. He is/ was my favourite Wally in the whole wide world. I liked to have him with me as much as possible. He had to stop sleeping in my room though.
I once dreamt that the house was full of dog poo and woke myself up to find it. After racing about the house in the middle of night and finding nothing, I realised that Wally was sleeping under my bed, farting. His farts were memorable and sometimes, to his horror, came with contents. The more ill he became, the more his bodily functions featured. On occasion he would look so shocked and guilty that I never had the heart to tell him off. I knew he would have gone outside if he could have made it. He was still a good boy.
I’ve moved twice recently. This elderly gentleman handled it with aplomb (and a bit of inside peeing). Daisy Dog showed him how to get through the new dog door and fetched him when he was too long outside or had wandered too far away on a walk. Pepe Pup kept Wally’s eyes and ears clean, whether Wally wanted it or not. I made sure he was brushed, groomed, petted, fussed over, fed, got his good boy treats morning and night with all his medications, had time with his friends, carried him to bed so I could cuddle him and just loved him to bits.
We’ve only been here two months and he already made firm friends with neighbours who walk my dogs. His preference was still for older men and he bonded quickly with the husband. They are so sad that he is gone.
Fifteen years old, Wally lived five years after his diagnosis with heart disease, then all the other ailments piling on. He was so determined to squeeze every bit of enjoyment out of his life. He was so determined to keep going no matter what. He was always ready to greet everyone happily no matter how much he hurt. He was always keen for an adventure and a treat. His teeth were awful but he hoed into his chicken drumstick every night. He thoroughly enjoyed a cat poo snack if I wasn’t quick enough. His nose was what allowed him to find his way around our new place and choose his spot. He was/ is an inspiration.
Wally is my hero. Boy, I miss him.