Sunday, April 7, 2013

RIP Radar

As I mentioned earlier in the week, this past week my family had to put to sleep Radar, our 14 1/2 year old dog. (Or as my mother pointed out, even older than that, as in July he'd have been 15.)

He was a german shepherd mix who showed up on our doorstep as a puppy. He was a roly poly
One of the pictures we have of him before his muzzle
started graying. We didn't take many pictures before
digital.... plus he was terrified of cameras!
little tyke and we played with him and took him back to the neighbors who owned him... he was back the next day.

My mom was afraid he'd get run over. So we kept in our yard, then took him back to his owner's house when they got home from work.

He was back the next day.

This continued, until my mom kept him in our yard for a few days, to see if the owners would even show up to claim him. They didn't.

Still, my mom didn't feel right keeping someone else's puppy. She realized we'd bonded with him though when someone suggested to her, "You know, I know know the perfect home for him, a family looking for a puppy," and my mom felt her ire rise. She says internally she was thinking, 'How DARE you?! That is MY dog!" and she kind of realized she'd bonded...

For us kids, the moment we knew Radar needed to stay with us was when, after returning him to the neighbor's house again, we witnessed an amazing sight. See, Radar wasn't the neighbor's only dog. They had two teenage labradors, a brother and sister, Duke and Daisy.  (And actually, they called Radar Rocky... but he wasn't. He was Radar.) Well the neighbors in questions lived sort of behind us, through the woods.

So one day we're in the yard and out of the woods steps Duke and Radar. And we watch Duke walk up to our house, turn and look at Radar. Radar sits down. Then Duke walks back into the woods, leaving Radar.

That's right! Duke was bringing Radar back saying, "Look, this is your home. Stay here."

Another thing that should be mentioned was that these neighbors fed the dogs by putting out food once a day for all of them... so if one of them didn't get there in time, the others ate it and that one went hungry.

another youngish picture of Radar... in this case he's obviously
trying to beg for "Cheese Bits"
Anyway, my mom was fed up at this point. So she called either the Humane Society or Animal Control, I'm not sure which. When we'd moved in, just a few years earlier, we had been astounded that people just let their dogs roam around, but had found out there was no leash law, so it was legal. But when she told the story to the people on the phone, they told her that a leash law had just been passed, so she could turn them in if she wanted.

Mom had a plan. The next day, or later that day I'm not sure, she went and met the neighbor's car as they were pulling into the driveway and said to them, "Did you know you're in violation of the leash law? You have a choice. Either give that puppy to me, or I'll turn you in and you can pay the $500 fine."

They gave Radar to us.

(And years later I learned the fine was only like $50.)

A few months later we heard the sad news. Duke and Daisy had been shot. Apparently Duke had chewed on his owner's boots, and the owner had killed them for it.

Radar ate a whole through our backdoor and a third of the couch. (Seriously.)

So we saved his life.

He was just like 8 weeks old when we first met him, but I think he was three or four months before he was "officially" ours.

He was a faithful companion to us all those years. We gave him the middle name "Tigger" because he could jump! Boy, could he! He stand on one end of the couch and jump to the other side... long ways! It was really only his desire to be close to us that kept him in the fence as much as he stayed in.
Radar when he was 12... that fearful look is because, as I said
he was scared of cameras!

He had a mentor and friend in the dog we had when we adopted him, Zack. He had a love relationship (though he was neutered) with my dog Molly that I got in high school. Sadly, we only had her two years before she escaped the fence chasing after something and was hit by a car. He loved her so much, he was utterly devoted. (She bossed him around shamelessly.)

Zack died when he was twelve, I'm not exactly sure how many years ago now, but when I was in college. Radar had several years alone.

When I graduated college I adopted my darling Sophie who I've told you about. She was five then, and is incredibly ten now! Radar took to her instantly. We realized from his reaction that he apparently had been pining away for canine companionship. She, on the other hand, didn't really know what to make of him. It was obvious she'd only lived with cats and humans before, so try as hard as he might to get her to play with him, she'd only do it for maybe sixty seconds before losing interest. But he still enjoyed her companionship. Their relationship was more like much older brother and little sister than anything else.

Radar was incredibly smart. My favorite story about him ever was "the bread story."

One day one of us said to the other while standing in the dining room, "Where is the bread?"

Radar with Sophie
And Radar, who was there with us, turned suddenly and went into the kitchen, sat in front of a cabinet and pointed his nose straight in the air... directly at the loaf of bread that was sitting on the counter! It was astounding. We realized he understood a lot more English than we gave him credit for!

Another funny story was the butter. Zack had a huge love for butter and was always stealing it.

And we assumed it was he who was always stealing it.

But after Zack died we discovered he'd passed his fondness for butter onto Radar... but Radar had been clever enough never to get caught before that, so Zack had always taken the blame!

I could tell lots more Radar stories.

When I left India, I knew it'd be the last time I'd see him because none of us thought he'd last much longer. I left in late November and we thought he wouldn't make it until Christmas. His lungs were losing elasticity fast, and he was already blind and deaf.

But he did make it to Christmas... and through January, February, and March.

He was ailing in the last days of March, though, and they knew it was a matter of days.

On Tuesday of this week they decided it was time to have him put to sleep so he wouldn't suffer.

Before that, over the weekend, I'm told Sophie stayed by his side, comforting him and giving him companionship (as did the rest of the family, but she was steady.)

The vet was apparently crying, as were many of the vet techs, because they'd known him both as a patient and as a boarder for many years.

My parents say it was peaceful.

Even though I knew I wouldn't see him again when I left, there's a difference between knowing someone is on the other side of the world and the other side of death. It's definitely colored my week and I've shed tears.

Rest in Peace, Radar. We love you.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry for the loss of your doggy. They truly are so loyal and a part of the family. *hugs*

    Thanks for commenting on What Jean Likes. Just getting back to everyone who commented now!! I'm following you via GFC

    Have a lovely week!


    Jean // What Jean Likes


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