Somewhere out there is an idiot to whom I owe a great deal. He was a guy who thought it would be a great idea to buy a puppy, in the hopes of turning it into a monster guard dog. You know him, he’s the type who tries to be tough vicariously by owning a dog that’s tough. I know he’s an idiot because he only got half of the equation correct. He purchased a bullmastiff from a respected, reputable breeder. He was guaranteed to have a puppy that would become big, but what he didn’t factor in was the size of that puppies heart. He couldn’t make that puppy tough because he was by nature a gentle, loving, dork of a dog. Fortunately for me that breeder had a stipulation in the purchase contract that she could buy that puppy back so that a suitable home could be found. She exercised that option, and took the dog back, but he was not fitting in well with the rest of her dogs. She wanted to find the perfect home for that dog but she was forced to settle with giving him to another kind of idiot (me).
Eight years ago I finished my work day, and headed to the airport to pick up some cargo. When I arrived at the airport I had nothing with me, when I left I had a crate in the back seat, a leash, a collar, a chew toy and a huge dorky dog spraying slobber along interstate 5. That was the night I met my new best buddy, Grunt.
Waiting for us at home was my other dog Chuck, a 10 pound Yorkshire terrier. Chuck was completely oblivious to the tsunami of oversized goofiness that was headed her way. Together these two were truly the odd couple. They provided me with a steady stream of comedy moments. Chuck was the frequent target of aggression by larger dogs so she was understandably less than thrilled about the new arrival. Chucks opinion of Grunt quickly changed when she realized that her 150 pound brother was keeping would-be aggressors at a safe distance. Grunt was there for me the night that Chuck died. He provided me with a warm body to hug on a sad day.
From that point on Grunt was forced to tolerate all sorts of good-natured torment and mayhem from me. He was my wrestling partner on 24 hour standby. Grunt was the only dog who went to the dog park to take naps. In hot weather he liked to sit in the sun, in cold weather he sought out the shade. When he found a comfortable spot to nap he was always willing to double as a backrest or a pillow. Occasionally that pillow would kick me in the ribs…hard. Eventually Grunt stopped being big, and became huge, 230 pounds of huge. I had to buy a new car just to transport him. The payments have been brutal but I’ve had no regrets about that because the car enabled me to take him on road trips and not leave him behind. Grunt didn’t seem to enjoy the drives very much but he always loved the destinations. If I fed him the wrong kind of food it would become necessary to drive with all the windows down, regardless of how cold it might have been.
My job kept me away from home for long hours which made me think that Grunt was getting lonely, so 4 years ago I decided it was time to add another set of paws to the house. I went to the shelter and adopted Grunt’s new little brother, Raider. I didn’t pick Raider, he picked us. Raider was a mix of 2 parts adrenaline, 1 part mischief, 1 part shenanigans, and 4 parts crazy. Grunt proved to be far more patient with his little brother than I was. That little mutt nearly drove me insane, but somewhere along the way he, like Grunt, stole a piece of my heart. Once again the house was ruled by an odd couple. A gentle giant who was frequently used as a jungle gym by his rambunctious little brother. A big dog playing tug-o-war with a little dog. They truly became brothers and buddies.
As the months and years passed Grunt steadily got slower and less active. He stopped trying to tackle me (successfully you should know) while horse playing with me. The sins of his previous owner gradually caught up with him. I was left with the choice of doing what was necessary to make him live longer but reduce the quality of his life, or just make him happy and enjoy the time we would have together. I chose to make him happy, as a result he lived much longer than I ever imagined that he would. I know I sound like every dog owner bragging about his best friend but grunt truly was special. He was truly the dog that you never forget about. Around the area where I live there are more people who know Grunt by name then there are people who know me. Everybody that took a few minutes to know him fell in love with him. Grunt was truly best buddy, so it was a rough day when the vet diagnosed Grunt with bone cancer. I decided to make the most of the time that I had left with him, unfortunately there was very little time left. Grunts health deteriorated very rapidly, his quality of life also declined so a tough decision had to made. For 8 years me and the Big Dork had a great ride, but that ride came to an end 3 days ago. It was a wonderful testament to Grunt that people drove from as far away as 35 miles just to say goodbye to him. Some rearranged their plans. In the end Grunt was surrounded by those that loved him. We celebrated his life by stuffing his belly with all his favorite foods. My buddy left this world fat and happy.
I’m going to miss that big goofball. His little brother Raider now has a huge set of paws to fill, so wish him good luck. If there is an upside to Grunt’s departure it’s that somewhere out there is a dog that needs a home. Eventually me and Raider will make a spot available on the team roster.
P.S. When somebody talks about a beloved dog passing away, the crazy dog people like to say that the dog has crossed the rainbow bridge. Grunt would have none of that, when he approached the rainbow bridge he lifted his leg, peed on it then turned around and kicked dirt on it. Grunt walked a little bit further until he came to a bridge made of bacon and pizza. He rumbled across that bridge like a young exuberant puppy taking huge celebratory bites along the way.