Beau December 11th, 2009
We lost a friend yesterday. A part of the family for many years. Twelve to be exact. He was born on December 10th, 1997. And yesterday we sadly had to help him across that final threshold of life, on the very day of his birth.
His name was Justin, and he was a good dog. A bit smelly and drooly, but a fine old friend. He lived at Fox Haven for many of his twelve years, even while we were far overseas. If ever a dog had a happy, carefree life, it was he.
For a Basset Hound, he was remarkably healthy and strong. He would roam the property and follow us just about everywhere. He loved to be close, and would settle down wherever I was working and fall asleep. This year he slept a lot more. I would tiptoe around the outside of the house so I didn’t wake him, but as soon as I got started working somewhere I would hear “Oowwoo…arf! arf! Oowoooo!” as he came looking for me. I would see him with his magical nose, sniffing the ground and tracing my steps until he saw me. He would trot up wagging his tail and settle down somewhere nearby to sleep. Often he would wake up an hour or two later wondering where everybody went.
Last weekend when we cut the cedar tree down for Grandma, the basset hound wanted to come along as usual. Wandering around with us was about his favorite thing to do, and especially riding in the little golf cart. That night I was putting the cart in the barn, and as I sat down Justin came running up to jump inside for his ride… this year he couldn’t jump in as well and would put his head and front paws up and I would help him in. We rode for about twenty feet and parked… it didn’t matter how far, he was just happy to have the ride.
A few days ago the boy and I were in the barn with the woodstove going, and a couple dogs and a cat to keep us company. Justin settled down behind the warm stove and took a nap for a few hours.
His fur was very warm, almost too hot to the touch. He enjoyed that very much. I didn’t have my camera, but took this picture with my cell phone for some reason.
When it was time to go I nudged him until he looked up and I coaxed him outside again. He was getting a little more confused this year… In a way, he was such good company that I didn’t even notice him most of the time. But I usually always waited for him, and let him in and out of the barn, up in the golf cart, or wherever else he followed.
While building the shed these past couple of months he was always there. The past couple of weeks he would climb up in the shed and lay down to sleep. Then when I was back outside he would bark and whine to be helped down because he couldn’t figure out how to get down.
He still liked to play though, and he loved Kuma the Shiba Inu. They slept in the kennel together and Justin followed Kuma everywhere. If we put Justin in the kennel for the night and Kuma wasn’t there, he would yowl and cry until he came too. Kuma was a little grouchy at times as the alpha dog, sometimes nipping Justin’s ears. He didn’t care, he still wanted to be with him. They kept watch together, welcomed us home together and wandered the fields together. In the mornings they would even play together in the driveway.
Of course anywhere the boy and I went, or the other animals, Justin had to follow. We often gave him apple cores and he loved them. When the boy ate an apple, Justin would follow him around and the boy would yell, “Apple dog! Apple dog!” and run away. Justin would go “Woof!” and chase him.
Especially if it was around the pond.
On school days I would bring the yellow lab and Justin with me to meet the boy at the bus. He loved that and would wag his tail when the boy came running off the bus. We would explore the pond or check out the fruit trees along the way. Sometimes I would try to sneak off without him and let him sleep. And I was worried he might wander off somewhere and get lost. I found him about a half mile away last year, at the bottom of a valley. No matter how I tried to sneak away though- he would still wake up and somehow know where I was. Five minutes later here came the basset hound trotting up the driveway or through the fields. His nose led the way…
Often we would see him exploring with Princess the cat. He was so gentle that the cats seemed to accept him. Princess liked to come by and rub his muzzle as if to say hello.
If any of the dogs got in the pickup truck, Justin yowled to go too. He just loved car rides. Yesterday, while he was sick and I was getting the car ready, he even tried to jump up on the bumper, ready to go as always.
He loved to roam the garden, but we tried to keep him out so he didn’t stomp all over everything. In September I even watched him walk up and pull a big juicy tomato off the plant for a snack!
When he did have something of his own or a favorite spot to lie down, he would go “Woo! Woooo!” to the yellow lab. The labrador is a master of sneaking food from the other dogs, and Justin would bark and chase him away.
If you sat down on the ground or anywhere else he could reach you, he might give you a big slobbery kiss when you least expected it!
But mostly he would find a comfy place in the sun and just snuggle up for a nap.
He was just friendly and lovable, and wanted to be part of everything. Especially if you had food to share. And he was part of the family.
Farewell ‘ole friend. We’ll miss you, and we are better for having shared our life with you. You were a good dog.
Say hi to Sparky…