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Thor's Memorial

My friend and companion, Thor, was born on December 7, 1981. He was 3/4 long haired dachshund and (as you can probably see) 1/4 cocker spaniel. I owned both of his parents, so Thor had been with me from the first day he came into the world.

No one who has owned a pup has ever been able to adequately describe how hilarious, wonderful, exciting and exasperating it can be, and owning Thor was no different as I learned his personality and actions. He was so full of energy and ingenuity. He could jump up high enough to look out the little windows in the front door to greet me when I came home from work, and he could climb over a fence around his run like a monkey.

Thor hung out by himself a lot and didn't initiate a lot of play or wrestling, but if his dad or I would start to play he was all for it. It was so frustrating when I would call for him and he would not come unless he could actually see me. I thought he was being obstinate and maybe a bit stupid. It was only after the deaths of his parents and he became my only dog that I realized that he was deaf, and so much smarter than his owner that he had been able to conceal it for 12 years.

Dachshunds are a very loyal and loving breed, and I have had a few as have my parents, but none could compare to Thor. No human being ever raised a hand to him, and as a result he trusted everyone. As he would be out walking in his funny bumbling dachshund way he would attract children who would want to pet his beautiful wavy golden coat, and never once did he as much as offer a growl or a hint of a nip.
Until he got so old that he could no longer jump up on the water bed he slept with me every night, and for a while he would bark for me to get him up on the bed, but he was pretty independent and finally decided that if he could not jump up, he would learn to sleep nearby. And likewise, until he could not longer leap into my chair, he would jump up next to me and wriggle down alongside until I made room for him. He wouldn't stay long...he was a roamer by nature and would patrol the apartment from dawn until dusk, but he would lay his muzzle on my thigh and solicit pets in the most endearing manner for a few moments.

During the years that I had Thor, we went through some very hard times together; times when if I ate, then he ate. But thank God we never went very hungry and there was never a hint of reproach in his eyes when he had to go to bed empty. There were some very hard emotional times too, and times when his master was nearly suicidal, but his gentle presence and the thought of who would take care of him alone stayed my hand.

When the night came that my house burned down and I barely escaped with my own life, somehow Thor escaped too, and that night the hyper little dog who could never sit still with me more than 15 minutes at a time sat with me motionless on the tailgate of a rescue truck for 2 hours as I watched my home burn.

Thor was old for a dog even then, 12 years old, and soon his sight began to fail. My heart broke for the little deaf dog who was losing another of his senses, but he took it all in stride and he got along just fine on nose power. Somehow he would always know when I was at the door, and he would still follow me from room to room and somehow still knew when it was time to sleep all night and not ask to go out until morning.

Gradually, as it happens to all of us, Thor began to get feeble. He developed the weakness in the hindquarters that plagues dachshunds and would frequently slip and fall or struggle to stand at his dish on the linoleum. But this didn't seem to bother him either as long as he could reach the room I was in and lay down near me. During the last month of his life, after his 17th birthday, I could see him lose a little bit of himself almost everyday. Then came a day, when I was walking him outside in the snow, he gave a funny little yelp and went all limp. I thought he was gone then, but 15 minutes later he was up and walking, but it was clear that something had gone badly wrong. Now even though an old dog sleeps most of the time, he slept all but a few minutes a day, yet still eating and barking when he needed to go out. During that last week, he shrank almost visibly until finally he refused food and then water. The last two days were very hard for me, but I believe easy for him as he slept almost constantly, and would raise his head or change his position every 3 or 4 hours and then go back to sleep. Amazingly, he wanted to please until the very last, and only 4 hours before he left us in his sleep he barked to go out so that even in his final moments he did not break house training. So then we had to leave for a bit and he was sleeping peacefully and when we returned, he had slept his life away.

There is a big hole in my heart now, all full of grief and pain, but I remember him as he was before he began to age, nestled at my feet in my bed, next to me at my side in my chair, scrambling over the top of a hardware cloth fence or literally jumping with joy to look out the little windows in the door when I came home.

Farewell little faithful friend. I may have other dogs in my life, but there will never be one to compare to you.

mailbox icon Rich Gordley
Des Moines, IA

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