Sad to say that this morning, my dog Walter passed away. It was very sudden, and we don’t know why. I gave him his usual cuddle goodnight, and then sent him to his blanket on the sofa. Wes came downstairs this morning while I was still sleeping. He saw Walter on his blanket, on the floor, and assumed he was sleeping. While Wes was feeding Sam, Walter let out a moan and lost control of his bowels. Wes called me, and at first I didn’t understand what was happening. Wes was calling Walter’s name, and I kept saying ‘Is he sick? I don’t understand, is he unwell’. I thought he was just listless, but rapidly, it was clear to me that he was lifeless and Walter had already passed. I am sad I didn’t see him that morning.
Wes kept calling his name, but there was no response in his eyes. They were lifeless. Wes even tried CPR – Walter’s chest would not inflate so we think he swallowed something which got stuck. We tried slapping him in the back, but nothing could be dislodged. We gave Walter a lot of cuddles, closed his eyes, and told him how much we loved him.
Walter was a very special dog! Some of you know the bizarre events that lead to me getting him. When I got married, I went on the birth control pill. I don’t know what happened, but I became super depressed. I would cry all day, I would sleep on the floor next to dog crate if Wes was working late… if Wes came to lay next to me, I would yell at him that he couldn’t ‘pick me up and put me down’ when he wanted.
I can only, retrospectively, describe the feeling as an aching loneliness (weird after just getting married). So, to ‘plug’ the loneliness I – someone who does not like dogs – went and got Walter from a trailer park in jasper, Alabama. I look at the pictures from the day I bought Walter home: I clearly had no idea what to do with a dog. I was half afraid, half curious. Walter was the perfect match, because he did not have much idea how to be a dog 🙂
The first night, I put Walter in his crate, he cried. I didn’t know what to do, and Wes said “Are you going to go to your dog, or not?”. I didn’t know what to do, so I made a bed by his crate and slept next to him. When I woke in the morning, I opened the crate door and let Walter creep under the covers. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship 🙂
From then on, Walter and I were fairly inseparable. He used to come to UAB with me everyday and sleep quietly under my desk.
He hiked with me, shopped with me, and was an excellent training partner when I ran. He even ran races with me 🙂
When I took Walter to flyball, Steve turned to Wes and said “She really babies him, doesn’t she?”. Well, maybe just a bit. All his outfits (including PJs) are testament to that.
And I remember when I took Walter hiking with my friend David, and had to carry Walter after about 9 miles. David was in absolute disbelief!
I came off birth control 2 months later. I cheered up immediately (it was like a dark cloud lifted) and I used to say “Ugh! Now I am stuck with a dog! I should have just had a baby!”. But I was joking – Walter was my buddy for sure by then. Every evening he would curl up on the sofa with me, and many nights I would sneak him up into my bed (it’s supposed to be ‘no dogs allowed’ upstairs in the new house). He shared my love for dressing up (or at least I like to think he did).
Walter liked everyone, but he love, love, loved me. When we would take him to the park, rather than run around freely, he would prefer to walk alongside me. He was a people pleaser who just wanted everyone to be happy. He had a permanently confused expression, but would do anything to please anyone – he just didn’t often understand what he was supposed to do. He was a character, very timid, very lovely. We called him ‘Walter Matthau’, ‘Wussy’, ‘the little giraffe’ and (sometimes), ‘a rat on stilts’.
It really was impossible not to love Walter. Even dog haters like my Mum fell for him. People who haven’t met him fel for him. He was a little, dependent, quirky, loving and lovable creature.
We’re very shocked he went. He was only four years old. He was supposed to grow up with Sam. We have two special memories of him, from his last day with us. One, during the day Sam fell asleep with a toy monkey clutched in his fingers. While he was asleep Walter ever-so-gently reached in and took Sam’s monkey. He knew he wasn’t allowed to, because when Wes said “Walter!” he dropped it and ran straight out of the dog door. It was very cute.
Two, that evening, we had little sauteed potatoes for dinner. We had lots left over (Wes is on Atkins, I wanted my carbs to be cake batter for that meal (!)) so we were feeding them to the dogs. You could throw them at Earnest from any angle, even behind your back, and he would jump up and catch them in the air. Walter however could only let them bounce off his head onto the floor, and then eat them. We tried to get him to track them and follow them with his eyes, but it was all a mystery to Matthau. We concluded that we would NEVER teach Walter that particular trick.
Truer than we would know.
Love you little puppy.