Tuesday, October 2, 2007


In earlier posts, I shared the stories of our two cats, Winston and Princess. Now it's time for the dogs, in order of seniority (can you tell this is a Union household?).

So I start with Big. He's very special to me for two reasons. First, because he's my very first dog and second, because of the magical, mystical way he came to us.

It was February 2001. The house down the road had been broken into a couple of times. Ron was getting ready for a business trip to Chicago. He would be gone for a week and didn't like the idea of leaving me home alone. "It sure would be nice to have a big guard dog," he said. The very next day (it's true!) we saw a big dog running though our back courtyard, playing with our next door neighbors' dogs. "Where did that big dog come from?" we asked each other. Then we asked the next door neighbors, but they didn't know either. When I saw him chase their cat, I chased him off, even squirting him with water, but he kept coming back. He knew he belonged here, even if we didn't know it yet. He seemed to be saying, "I'm here about the guard dog position. I understand you have an opening."

We made one final effort and put an ad in the "Found" section of the newspaper. We got one response from someone who said the dog wasn't his, but if no one claimed him, he'd be interested in taking the do off our hands. Nope, by that time, we had decided to keep him.

First we named him Big Dog, but that was quickly shortened to Big. He's 120 pounds of solid muscle. He has a deep, ferocious bark that would scare off any burglar. He's been the perfect guard dog; no one has ever broken in, or even come close. As we added more dogs, Big trained them to be guard dogs, too.

Of course it hasn't been all sunshine and roses. He was only about a year old when he came to us. He was still in that "destructive puppy" stage, chewing anything and everything he could get his paws on, especially electric extension cords (still plugged in!) and a car seat belt. He finally outgrew that and now he's no trouble at all.

He is getting on in years (large dogs don't have as long a lifespan as smaller dogs do) and has degenerative joint disease in his rear legs. He's hanging in there with the help of a medicine called Rimadyl. We're just emjoying the time we have left with him and letting him enjoy the time he has left with us.


T said...

That is the sweetest picture of Big! He's such a good boy.

Beth said...

Doesn't he have the cutest face? And the cutest ears?

Elle said...

What a big sweet thing he is! I know the feeling of treasuring the later years of a large dog. Xam is over 10 and has gray on whole face and down on his chest, too. We give him Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM tablets for his joints...seems to be helping some.

Beth said...

Big's muzzle used to be all black and now it's mostly white/grey with just a little black showing. We're going to try giving him some Glucosamine, too.

S. Lee Whiplash said...

What a *handsome* pup - with a great soulful expression to boot. Is that his snoot's natural coloring, or had he recently finished snuffling about?

Beth said...

He must have been snuffling in the dirt outside. His nose is black, but he does have some pinkish spots near the end of the snoot, just before his nose.

Barbara said...

I think I forgot to leave a name on my comment earlier--oops.

I wanted to agree about glucosamine. My former neighbor gave it to her dog Pearl when Pearl was having trouble with her back legs (standing up from a lying-down position, etc.), and it made a huge difference. After I heard about that, I got some for Christopher, and it seemed to help the arthritis in his spine.

BTW, I don't think I'd ever heard the story of how Big came to you. That is wonderful!

Beth said...


It was so weird, because it really was the day after we wished for a big guard dog!

S. Lee Whiplash said...

I forgot to inquire earlier, what's the dynamic like between pups and kitties?

Beth said...

Big loves his kitties, especially Winston. He licks the top of Winston's head, leaving Winston with somewhat of a punk hairdo. He also licks Winston's butt, which Winston puts up with for a surprisingly long time, but he seems to like it. The two of them cuddle up together, too.

I'm amazed that Big is so good with the cats. He was terrorized by our first cat, Panther. She would wait until Big was sound asleep, and then just walk up and smack him on the nose with her paw, claws extended. Poor Big would wake up, startled, looking all around, trying to figure out what was going on. She also liked to trap Big and the other dogs in the garage. Then she would sit at the end of the hallway, just staring at them and they didn't dare walk near her. That cat had attitude!