Now you all know that we have two grand dogs - no grand children, just grand dogs. Ole's life pretty much centers around Beau and Daisy. They belong to Lovely Daughter, but she drops them off at our house every morning for doggie daycare.
Now don't get me wrong - I love Beau and Daisy, too. But Ole is THEIR person. I'm fine if Ole's not around, but Ole is their first choice.
If you're an animal lover you know that you don't pick them, they pick you. At one point in my life a few years back there was a dog that picked me. His name was Parker.
Now Parker was unique to say the very least. He was half black lab and half basset, and just before he died he weighed in at 90 lbs. so he was by no means small. You might wonder what in the world a mix like that would look like. Well, never fear, you'll see pictures coming up.
We got Parker from an organization called Adopt-a-pet. I had lost my dog, Jess, a big black lab, several months prior and had decided I wasn't going to have anymore dogs. Ole was still working at the time but we were traveling more so it was just easier not to have a dog. One day the AaP (Adopt-a-Pet) lady called out of the clear blue, explained who she was and told me all about this dog that was a year old, had been abused and had just gone through a major surgery on his front leg. She had gotten my name from a friend who told her that we loved dogs and had a perfect setup for pets - living in the country on 5 acres of land with lots of room to run. She said this dog needed a good home and she was sure I would like him if I met him. Well, soft-hearted that I am, I finally agreed to at least go and meet him. But, I assured her, not to count on my taking him home because I really didn't want another dog.
When I got there, Parker was sleeping in the middle of her floor, opened one eye to look at me and instantly went back to sleep. You could tell immediately that he definitely wasn't an excitable dog - not one that jumps and barks and makes all kinds of fuss when a stranger comes. So I visited with Parker a bit, got the lowdown on his background from AaP Lady and went home, telling her that I would let her know but not to count on me taking him.
When I got home Ole asked how everything had gone. I told him that the dog was a very nice dog but that I really wasn't ready to have another one. Well, the AaP Lady was pretty persistent and called again and convinced me to come play with Parker some more. I went three times to visit Parker and made Ole come with me once. By this time I had fallen in love with Parker and felt so bad for the dog because of his sad background. But, mind you, I still didn't know if I wanted the bother of having another dog. I must have been moping around because the next day Ole said, "Would you just go get the damn dog and be done with it?" So off I went and brought Parker home, still not knowing if I truly wanted another dog.
Parker was born sometime in 1990 and lived with a family right here in my little village. Unfortunately, the husband in the family was a drunk and when he'd spent too much time down at the bar he would come home and kick the dog and beat on him. One night the wife had enough of the dog abuse and the next day called the AaP Lady and asked her to take Parker before her husband killed him. AaP Lady came immediately, took Parker and brought him to a kennel about 3 miles from where I live. This was not the norm for animals that AaP took in. They're usually placed in foster homes, but the AaP Lady felt she had to hide this dog. And it's a good thing she did because the husband came looking for him. Came right to AaP Lady's house and demanded his dog back.
It was then determined that Parker was having difficulty walking. You've heard of hip dysplasia in dogs, well Poor Parker had dysplasia in one of his front leg joints. You know how bassets are so knock-kneed in front. Parker was so bad that surgery had to be performed on one of his legs so he could walk without pain. The surgery was successful, and following that AaP Lady started looking for a home. That's when she called me.
Now, Parker was the MOST mellow dog I have ever met in my life. His major concerns were sleeping and eating - in that order. He was a social butterfly and was everybody's friend. I spent a lot of time working in my flowerbeds, and would encourage him to come outside with me. And he would - but it wouldn't last long. He'd be outside, poking around and eventually, after a short time come and poke me in leg and then amble up to the patio door and sit. If I didn't get up soon enough to suit his fancy he would come poke me again and head for the patio door. He was much more interested in going to his bed and sleeping the afternoon away than being outside in the fresh air and sunshine.
Parker was a good camper too. One weekend we were involved in a rod run camp out, staying in a campground of 10 acres that were totally fenced. Sunday morning there was the fragrance of frying bacon, sausage, pancakes and eggs. We never kept Parker leashed because he always hung around so close - didn't want me out of his sight. But this particular morning he disappeared. We went looking for him (of course he wasn't difficult to describe) and were hot on his trail. He had been making the rounds of the campground all right, and had his technique down pat. He would wander up to the campsite and sit down close to whoever was doing the cooking. He never barked or whined, but would just sit there and put the most pitiful look on his face. We had reports of how many pancakes he had eaten - 7 at one campsite - how many bones he had been given, how many sausage links he had devoured, etc. Can you believe he never threw up? But he didn't eat for three days after we got him home.
Then there was the time I had baked a batch of brownies. I put them on the back of the counter to cool intending to frost them later, and then had to leave the house. When I came home several hours later there lay Parker on his belly, all four feet stretched out in front of and in back of him with the brownie pan licked clean in front of him on the floor. There was not a molecule of brownie left in that pan. Now how this dog with little short legs managed to jump high enough to get the brownies off the back of the counter I never figured out. He did the same thing with two apple pies that I had freshly baked also. Ole is famous for snitching freshly baked things so I had even left a note on the counter, "Ole, stay out of these pies, they're for church." When I came home there stood Ole in front of the counter with a smirk on his face, and the two apple pie pans laying on the floor - licked so clean you would have thought they had come from the dishwasher. Needless to say, there lay Parker, on his belly, looking guilty.
Several years after we got him we discovered that Parker had skin allergies - he was allergic to EVERYTHING. On the advice of our vet we tried all kinds of across the counter stuff, changed his food, everything we could think of to no avail. The poor dog was so miserable we had to do something so we finally bit the bullet, brought him in to the vet and had allergy tests run on him. He was allergic to over 200 things. Things like grass, carpet, dust mites; I could go on and on. We had to have a special formula made up for him at the University of Minnesota that was shipped to us on a monthly basis, and Ole had to give Parker an allergy shot once a week. This special formula cost $109 for a 30-day supply. And then sometimes it wouldn't do the trick completely, depending on the time of year it was. Skin infections would set in and there would be a trip to the vet. Over the years the vet, the technicians and the office crew became very attached to Parker - it was almost like his second home. But I firmly believe if you have a pet you MUST take care of them. So we did.
In his later years Parker became extremely sensitive to loud noise. I always knew several hours ahead of time if we were going to get a thunderstorm in the summer because Parker would get very nervous. As the storm grew closer he would start to shake, and nothing would console him. We didn't realize it at the time, but Parker had some pretty serious back problems, and I think the change in air pressure prior to these storms may have caused him pain. He apparently had back issues for several years that we didn't know about because he never indicated that he was in pain. He moved slower as he got older and had more difficulty getting up, but then don't we all as we age.
The summer that Parker turned 14 he woke up one morning and couldn't use his back legs. He dragged himself down the hallway on his front legs heading for the door to go out. I was terrified and thought he'd possibly had a stroke during the night. I took him to the vet immediately - lifting a 90 lbs. dog wasn't easy. The vet had sad news after he'd x-rayed him. Parker had 4 herniated discs - severely herniated and he was in a terrible amount of pain.
We discussed all kinds of possibilities and came up with the only one that was fair to Parker. With the vet's blessings we decided to have Parker go to Doggy Heaven. With tears the vet's eyes and sniffles from the rest of the staff, Parker left us that day, never to be forgotten. He was definitely one of a kind.
Psssst: Remember to turn off the jukebox before you play the video. Just sayin' is all.