My beloved Ugly Dog gave up his life last night. We think his big old heart just finally gave out. It was a good heart. Here is his story.
July 14, 2015 I got a call from my friend who told me there was an old abandoned dog out on a county road near me that was in need of rescue. I'll never forget her description of him including the phrase "he is so beautiful!" I didn't hesitate to go help the poor dude out but, when I got to him I was quite certain that my friend wasn't sure about what beautiful really meant. He was scrawny, old, flea-infested, bug-eyed, dirty, and scared. Despite his fear, he seemed to know I was there to help and allowed me to lift him into the backseat of my truck and we headed home.
My plan was to re-home him. I bathed him. I bathed him a lot. Then I bathed him some more. We gave him something to rid him of fleas and ticks, fed him lots of food and gave him a place to crash until we decided what to do with him.
He made himself comfortable and, despite our efforts to find him a new home, he became a permanent resident. We didn't initially have a name for him and, since we weren't really planning on keeping him, I started referring to him as Ugly Dog...and, it stuck.
It wasn't long until he had worked his way into my heart. There was something so peaceful about him. He just seemed so happy to be here, happy to be alive, fed, loved.
He really liked when I brought quilts outside to sit on.
Always a joiner when it came to early morning sunrise watching.
And sunset watching...and selfies.
He was down for campfires.
He frequently practiced meditation
Then, he gave us puppies!!
and more puppies!
He totally took responsibility, too. More than a lot of humans, he was a dad. He was a good dad.
He was quite proud of his accomplishments.
He even helped raised pups that weren't his own.
or even his species...
He pretty much loved every creature.
I bet he walked a hundred thousand miles around this farm. Considering that he could barely climb the stairs the first day I brought him home, I was always impressed with his cinderella story.
He peed on everything. Every. Thing. Even a few people.
He made us laugh with his old-man antics and how he knew how to enjoy life's little pleasures. Like the warm sun on your belly (and balls) after a cold night. How he scampered and played with us, even in his old age. He would emerge from his dog house (that I put an old quilt in because I knew how much he loved them) on cold, rainy mornings, smell the air, stretch and then immediately send a big "nope" to the universe as he climbed back into his warm, quilted abode.
I don't know what his life was like before he came to be with me. He was afraid when I would pick up rakes and shovels and the like which always made my heart wrench to think of how he must have been treated, especially since he was abandoned by his previous owners. Maybe they just didn't see the value in keeping an old, raggedy dog around that peed on every blessed thing. Maybe they didn't really see him for the super fly, zen, poetic, big-hearted dude he was.
I have no way of knowing how old he was. I wasn't there when he was a puppy, I didn't get to watch him grow into that big frame, I simply picked up what was left after he was considered useless to someone else. And, what was left was one of the most beautiful souls I've ever known. I'm sure that he even loved his previous owner. He was just that kinda guy.
He proved to me that age doesn't really have much to do with vitality. Love, however...that makes a life.
C.S. Lewis says that to love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. I knew I was in for it when I decided to love him. I knew our time together would probably be short but I also knew that time really doesn't play that big of a roll in value. I knew that I wouldn't get the bulk of his life, but that I could give him the best of his life. And, that is what I did. I loved all his weird ridiculousness. He could have died 20 months ago, alone and abandoned but he didn't. He died in my backyard very well loved with a big full heart. He could have been just another old dog that was forgotten but, instead, he left a legacy.
You're free now you big, beautiful boy.
Mark me a spot. ❤️