Monday, June 4, 2012

Superdog's Kryptonite

I am not the sort of man who see's his pets as children.  Although I am a dog person through and through, dogs are dogs, not people.  That being said, there is something quite special and noble about the canine species that makes them capable of being a part of your family in a way no other animal can.  There is a loyalty and type of love you get from a dog that cannot be duplicated by even the closest human companion.  There is a reason they have been dubbed man's best friend and from the moment the first wolf decided to brave the campfire and cozy up to a caveman somewhere, the human race has been forever changed for the better.
Merry Christmas
A while back I wrote several posts about Banjo the Superdog.  For those of you who did not read those posts, Banjo got her nickname because for nearly six years, the 80lbs Black Labrador Retriever was extraordinarily healthy.  Regardless of what crazy thing she ate, what dangers she got herself into, what lake she swam in (and drank from) she not once was ever injured, sick or in pain.  Last year she developed a growth on her face and while this was Un-Banjo-like, she seemed to recover with only mild intervention from the veterinarian.  This was quite Banjo-like.  Unfortunately, despite Banjo's superdog status, cancer proved to be her kryptonite and after five months of remission, the cancer came back in full force.  It turned out that Banjo was not invincible after all...well, not in the physical sense.
Despite having an aggressive form of nasal cancer, Banjo's spirit, her appetite, and her devotion proved utterly cancer proof.  Not once in the two months that the cancer ravaged her nasal passages, did she refuse to eat a meal or treat, isolate herself from her family, or withhold a lick or snuggle.  Even when the pain was obvious, which for Banjo must have meant quite severe, and the vet prescribed narcotics that should have made her loopy, she was still Banjo.

Banjo was not the first dog I ever had, but she was the first that was exactly what I had always wanted.  I wanted a large dog.  I wanted a Labrador.  I wanted a dog that would fetch and swim.  A dog that would stay with me off leash and come whenever I called, regardless of what else might seem more interesting.  Banjo was all these things and so much more.  She was by my side everyday for six years, ever faithful, ever adoring, and always Banjo.
Banjo was responsible for finding Leah, our German Shepherd.  She once saved our dog Nikki, who passed several years ago, from a gigantic feral cat.  She let my young daughters dress her up like a princess, and protected them from the evil squirrels that haunt our backyard.  She became one of the main characters in the Scarlet Series I write and without her, the books would have never existed.
Disney Princess
It seems almost a cruel joke that one so healthy all her life could die so young.  I had always imagined that Banjo would be the kind of dog that well out lived her breed expectancy.  The memories I will always carry of her are full and poignant, but seem so few.  Only six years worth.  I tried my best to make her last week with us something that my daughters, my wife and I will remember fondly.  All house rules were suspended and Banjo got to eat marshmallows, chicken and mashed potatoes off of a people plate, we let she and Leah run through the woods and swim in the creek.  Banjo slept in my lap in an old recliner while she and I watched crummy movies on Netflix.  And like any self respecting 34 year old man, I held her in my arms while the vet administered the euthanasia and I wept.
It is one of life's many sorrows that a dog's life is so much shorter than ours.  Perhaps that is why they touch our hearts so deeply.  A life time of devotion, caring, and love all concentrated in the space of of a decade.  They mark the moments of our lives with the joy of their presence.  They are there for us to cry on, to keep our secrets, to make us laugh.  They teach us about loss and grief.  They show us what it means to love unconditionally.
I remember the day I picked Banjo out of the litter.  I saw her and she came over to me and I knew that this was the dog.  My dog.  I watched her like a hawk, afraid I might lose her in the sea of seemingly identical black puppies, but I never did.  My daughter, only just over two years old, held her in the back of my Jeep and I asked her what we should name the puppy.  She insisted that her name was Banjo.  I reminded my little daughter that it was a girl puppy and she replied that she knew and her name was Banjo.  And with that humorous moment and silly name, Banjo was a part of my growing family and forever a part of our hearts.
Three Amigos
Over the course of my life, there will probably be more dogs, more puppies and silly, joyful moments.  But there will only be one Banjo.  She was my dog.  And I couldn't have asked for a better one.

I love you Banjo.  I'll miss you always.

1 comment:

  1. Aww. Poor Banjo and poor you. My golden mix is laying at my feet right now as I write. We got her at a rescue shelter a few years ago, and she has been the best dog ever. I don't even want to think about what life will be like when she's gone. Hang in there.