Now let me first give a disclaimer here… I have decided to do something really fun and post “Throwback Thursday” blog posts, where I’ll repost some old blog posts from back in the day when I REALLY had no blog etiquette. It’s going to be a really fun weekly tradition and super silly, too. These TT posts will more-than-likely not be wedding related at all, but rather some fun stuff I used to blog about back in the day, like the time my cousin’s and I had a hamburger eating contest, or other goofy, mindless stuff.
Today however is kind of an exception. It’s still throwback, but in a different way. I am trying to find a way to explain this so it doesn’t really sound silly. But today, August 15, is my boy Gary’s birthday. Well he is not with us anymore, so this is considered throwback and I want to tribute my fallen buddy today.
I feel a bit self-conscious about this because I know there are a lot of people who don’t understand the bond you can have with a dog. And even so, there are some who totally ‘get it’. But even those people might not quite understand the crazy relationship I had with this animal. I’ll try to explain a bit.
First, meet Gary. He wasn’t your typical dog.
He had sort of this human-like quality about him. And it’s not just me talking. Everyone who ever met him could tell he was different. He could really communicate. I felt like any day, he could just start speaking English. It would not have even surprised me.
I got Gary in Arizona. I made a road trip out there just to pick him up. He was born in Glendale, just outside of Scottsdale. I picked him out of an entire litter and there was no sitting and playing with each puppy, testing out their personalities. Nothing like that. It was more like, ok, here he is. I don’t think I even really looked at the others. I just knew that this was my dog. But there was no way for me to prepare for the level of attachment I’d end up having for this animal.
He was always with me. Everywhere. There was hardly a time in his 6 years that I didn’t bring him wherever it was I was going. It was expected by everyone I knew that he’d be with me. At work, happy hour, running errands. Whatever.
He grew up to be a really handsome dog! Like dog-food commercial actor dog or something. He was one of those dogs that you can’t just walk down the street with out everyone asking about him. I have seen cars stop in the middle of traffic and people leaning out to take photos of him.
He was a really gentle soul. He loved everything. Toddlers could stick their thumb right in his eye and pull on his tail. He never even chased squirrels. He was a total lover. Never snapped at a single person or animal his whole life. At the dog park, we called him the Sheriff. When other dogs would get into a brawl, Gary, knowing his size, would always run out to the fight and get right in the middle and just stand there. And somehow, the dogs fighting would just stop. My friend Kent the other night described Gary as the Martin Luther King Jr. of dogs. I couldn’t have said it more perfectly myself!
Gary always came along on my 4-wheeling adventures. He’s in there… can you see him?
Gary and I ran trails almost his entire life. Or at least until he got hit with diabetes. That’s when we both stopped running.
Below, Gary sits atop Matthews Winters Park. We were pretty evenly matched. Sometimes he’d set the pace and I’d find myself following him, and other times I managed to beat him. He never needed a leash. We’d go super early to avoid getting a ticket. But every time, at the summit, Gary and I would stand on this rock and we would both stand there silently enjoying the scenery below. We’d stand there for several minutes sometime. And then in unison, it’d be like we would just both snap out of it and make our way back. One day we were running this trail and Gary wasn’t keeping up. I stopped and waited, but he never came. I backtracked to find him laying in a bush. My heart sank, and I knew something was wrong. We managed to get back and I was quick to get him in to the clinic. Gary had become diabetic. Just like that.
I have not been able to run this trail by myself since. I’m not being pathetic. I’m just not interested.
The following year I cared for him, giving him insulin shots twice per day, cooking his meals, checking his glucose levels, plotting his curves. I did the best I could. He eventually lost his eye sight to cataracts, which came as a result of his diabetes. I couldn’t just sit there and watch him stumble down steps and walk right into walls. I got him cataract surgery, and got his eyes back! I paid some serious money for that, but I don’t regret it at all. Seeing him fetch a tennis ball just a few weeks after the surgery was the most awesome thing.
I believe he knew and appreciated everything I did for him and I feel great that I was able to hook up my buddy!
Gary was with me and LK when I proposed to her. I planned the day kind of selfishly. I wanted the following elements to be present upon proposing to LK: I wanted to be in the Colorado Wilderness, I wanted to be camping, I wanted to be out in the Bronco, and I wanted Gary there. This photo really represents that magical day, and is my favorite photo of him.
It was the best day of my life, I think. And I’ll have other bests, like when my son is born. But this will be a best day in a special kind of way.
So again, I apologize for obsessing about my dog. I had to tell him goodbye on October 31. Just three days before LK and I got married. He was going to be my “best man”. I think about him every day and miss him a lot, but man, what great memories. So I feel even though this post is off from what will be stupid and silly Throwback Thursday posts, and trust me, they are going to be awesome! I have to give my good friend a tribute today. Happy birthday, Gare. Save a spot for me on the other side, my good boy.