Friday, October 30, 2009

The Greatest Dog in the History of Dogs — Huckleberry Finn by Laura Tidwell

An old friend knew of my interest in owning a Great Pyrenees and alerted me in the summer of 1998 to a couple of Pyr pups who had just been rescued. I understand that folks had been trying to catch the mother and her pups wandering on some old farm land. The mother got away, abandoning two of the puppies. The pups were only about ten days old; they were malnourished; and they were infested with parasites, internal and external.

I made arrangements to meet the puppies in their foster home (foster parents Lynn Provident and Jeff Davis are two of God's protectors of animals here on earth), and I had an opportunity to bottle feed the four-pound puppies, cradling them over my forearm. Over the course of the next few weeks, I diligently attempted to convince the puppies' foster parents that I was worthy of adopting one – the mischievous one then called "Rex." Before he was ready for adoption, though, Rex's health took a nosedive. He was hospitalized, and the vet wasn't sure he would live. But his foster mom never gives up when it comes to the life of a dog. She persevered; he persevered; and finally he was ready to come home with me. Oh, how I loved that dog; we were as close to soul mates as a dog and a person could be.

I named him Huckleberry Finn, and he proved himself remarkably like his namesake. I like to say he was “delightfully rotten,” certainly capable of civility, but occasionally delighting in absolute mischief. A typical Pyr, he was an independent thinker. You'd tell him to do something and could see him considering whether that was something he actually wanted to do. When we signed up for obedience class, my colleagues wagered how quickly we'd be expelled. (In the end, we did graduate. In fact, we got a standing ovation during our final exam when I commanded Huckleberry to come and he came!) When we were in public, he was remarkably well-behaved. He was friendly with other dogs, loving with humans, and extremely gentle with children. I later fostered another Pyr puppy, and I adopted him as a result of, in large part, Huckleberry's love for him. Huckleberry and Klondike became inseparable. They wrestled and played, they lounged on the couch, they snuggled on the hearth. Huckleberry lived in a wonderful balance of good behavior and mischief – resting his head on the dining room table during dinner, relaxing at concerts in the park, stealing a hot dog from my boss' hand at a company event, serving as a terrific companion on long walks. (Klondike was lacking in mischief; he was just along for the ride.) It was a pretty good life.

Our Klondike had always been a bit "sickly," so although he was younger than Huck Finn it wasn't a great surprise that we lost him first. My sweet Huckleberry had a very human reaction to Klondike's death. The two of us moped and mourned for months. Right around the time Huckleberry returned to "normal" I came home to find pools of blood all over the floor and splattered on the walls, and the blood was coming from Huck's nose. We consulted our vet, and we suspected that Huck had broken a blood vessel in his nose. Things were fine for a few months…until it happened again. Our vet did probes, x-rays, biopsies, and blood work, all of which were inconclusive. Ultimately, we went to University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine for a CT-scan. There, clear as day, was a massive tumor literally consuming his nasal passages (nasal adenocarcinoma).

After many tears and much discussion, my husband and I opted against radiation. In the end, I couldn't bear to abandon him for nearly two months while he was undergoing what seemed to be unbearable treatment. Instead, we tried to combat the spread of the tumor with medication. The UT Vet told me he wouldn't last a month, but I didn't believe them. I knew our time was short, and I did everything I could to give him as much enjoyment as possible. We went to the dog park; we went for countless rides in the convertible; we visited his human friends; we went on long walks; I prepared a myriad of home-made food to help him keep weight on, and when he tired of that, we went to the McDonald's drive-thru for plain hamburgers; and, of course, he had a gob of peanut butter with every pill he had to take. His quality of life was pretty darn good. Huckleberry Finn gave me a wonderful birthday gift that year – hanging around long enough to spend the day with me. Five days later, though, his body decided it had enough. Huck Finn died on November 21, 2008 more than a year after he first showed signs of cancer. He was ten years old.

I love my other dogs immensely, and I'll always have dogs. But I doubt I'll ever love another dog the way I loved Huckleberry Finn. He was the greatest dog in the history of dogs.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh Huckleberry was a beautiful dog. I know you have missed him and will continue to. What a wonderful story. Thank you for being such a good parent to these wonderful doggies. Love you, Rosie

Anonymous said...

I was there for a visit just before Huck lost his valiant battle. I could hardly finish
the story for my tears. I remember
him eating a bag of charcoal while
in Miami and having a new experience of a bath in the swimming pool. I am Huck's grandmother. Rest in peace.

Cindy Taylor said...

I love your photos of Huck - especially his convertible ride. He obviously loved his life with you.

BE said...

每個人生命中都可能遇到貴人,這些貴人不一定真的尊貴,他可能是陌生人,也可能是你的敵人。..................................................

Max said...

A heart dog comes into our lives if we are truly lucky and you found yours in Huck. I found mine in Erik, the Golden Retreiver, he was 9 years old when he left us, on 20th Feb 2009. He had a Nasal Carinoma, he was a very brave boy right up to the end. He left us with a spring in his step and a brightness in his eye. He left us with dignity, before the 'thing' that was completely engulfing his nose and face swallowed him up completely. Much love to you, I share in your sorrow, and understand your grief.

Max

DenisCollis03 said...

你的部落格很棒,我期待更新喔........................................

Chuckles said...

Mac Duff is a 9 year old West Highland White Terrier. In 11/09 he was diagnosed with inoperable nasal cancer. In order to insure him the best quality of life possible, it was decided that he'd receive palliative radiation treatments at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital under the care of Dr. Duda and all her staff including Stephanie Corsi. He finished his treatments in 02/10. I've no idea how long "My Angel With Fur" has, but consider each day a blessing. I'm disabled and have been so ill and undergoing my own treatments, hospitalizations and surgeries for about 10 years. The only reason I'm still alive is because of Duff. We've both been compared as being similar in our desire to live and not give up. I feel it is true because where there's life there's hope. The picture is of him playing with his favorite toy--his purple ball. I think it's his favorite toy in part because we play with it together. Mac Duff has and will always be the best companion one could ever desire.

San.M said...

I first read this blog sometime in the summer of 2010 ( June- July ) when I lost my Alex to Osteo. I loved it then & read it many a times during that year & had it bookmarked. I just lost my Baby Black ( Sep 30 )to Kidney disease & remembered about this wonderful blog & the great accounts it had. How time flies. I know Huck Finn lives on in your heart & memories as do all our lovely friends & they will never be forgotten Would love to get some more snaps of Huck Finn to rejuvenate this post. Best to you Laura Tidwell.

My friend Erich Trapp, you are doing a wonderful job.