Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ode to Pele, the Dog

I've been wanting to write a post about our doggie Pele ever since he caused a few of our neighbors to stop speaking to us. No, he did not poop on their lawn repeatedly, kill their flowers or bark incessantly all day. He simply stepped on a woman's lawn while I was out walking him, causing her to scream at me, which prompted my husband to have words with her. Pele was a wonderful dog and did not deserve the wrath of this mean old lady.

I say was because today the unthinkable happened. We had to put our beloved puppy to sleep. While Pele had been showing signs of sickness for a while, we found only a little more than a week ago that he had lung cancer. Thankfully he did not experience much pain, and we had at least a brief amount of time to cuddle and snuggle and say our good-byes.

Our dog we adopted within weeks of buying our first house, and it was the first dog for both of us. I still remember how nervous I was bringing this 2 month old puppy home by myself. I had never had a dog and this thing was tiny and fragile and totally dependent on me. Good training for my later babies. His white muzzle made him look like a grandpa most of his life, but it was only in the past year that our fierce protector showed any signs of age. For nearly 11 years Pele remained strong and healthy, willing to protect us with his life from the fiercest of squirrels. His quirks made him only more lovable, like his fear of stairs and how he be found hiding in the bathtub at the first sign of thunder or fireworks.

After a year we decided to adopt a friend for our faithful companion, since we were gone all day. (Of course then they both just slept all day until we got home). We managed to find the one person who told us a female dog would be submissive to our alpha male, but she could totally hold her own. She ended up playing much better with other dogs, had none of the fears of her bigger brother, and managed to chew her way through the drywall that Pele had left alone. True to her name, Pelota, she became Pele's best friend (also his namesake's best friend) and loving sister. She still plays like a puppy and is going to miss her buddy.

Except for stealing food, tripping them in a mad rush to run out the door and shoving his bottom in their faces for a scratch, Pele was amazing with the kids. We were honest with what was happening and they were sad and loving and strong and brave and curious and awesome as always.
One grandma was terrified of him and for one he was her favorite, and I like to think everyone who helped walk him saw his sweetness along with the protective barking. He was definitely daddy's doggie at heart and Brian is taking it hard.
I admit I've had my share of complaints about our puppies, but I really do see how wonderful they are for a family. Growing up with dogs helps prevent allergies in kids, forces you to get out and exercise, they protect their families at all costs, and, most importantly, they provide absolutely unconditional love. Pele showed that through and through.

My brother-in-law put in beautifully:
It's times like these that we realize how inadequate the word 'pet' really is. A pet is a fish, or a frog, something incapable of adding to our lives in the way a dog does. Someone who never holds a grudge because you forgot to
feed them on time, or scolded them, or had to punish them for what might now seem to be the most trivial of transgressions. We will never find a friend or family member that only wants to be in the same room with us to to be happy, and is always so excited to see us when we return home. Dogs don't spend less time with you so they can be somewhere else, with someone else. They don't cheat, lie, steal or hurt you. They just give, and love, without question or hesitation. With so many noble traits it makes me wonder why we consider ourselves their masters.

We love you Pele, may you catch finally catch a squirrel in the sky.


  1. Nicole
    We are all saddened by the loss of our dear friend Pele.
    Greg, Stephanie,Bethany, Devin and most of all their dear dog friends Gerry and Rosie.

  2. Oh, we just found out this week that our dog (8-year-old chocolate lab) has a cancerous tumor in his neck. Tomorrow (10/29/2009) he will undergo surgery to hopefully remove the tumor. He may need some radiation following. The entire family is distraught and we cannot imagine life without him. He is so smart our Duke... just like your Pele, and a great friend to the children. We too experienced a mean neighbor issue and it makes you stop and think how some people really function... I pray that time heals your wounds, you will never ever forget the wonderful years you had with Pele.. those memories never die. I have had other dogs that have passed on and each one has enhanced my life and the lives of each of our family members in a very special way. I am so happy that my kids grew up in a home with "pets" because they know how deep love is... Please pray for my Duke as he proceeds down this long road. Wishing you only happy memories of Pele.. Susan Murphy, Northport, New York sjm6455@aol.com