In memory of Sarge, our Big Dog!

We miss you Sarge!

I know that all of you have come here today to read about The Delmedico people however, the post is my memorial to Sarge.

Sarge has passed on to the other side. He was in the hospital for 2 weeks and really did not show much improvement. He could not turn himself from side to side and could not seem to hold his pee and could not let you know that he needed to poop. He could not use his right hind leg, his tail was paralyzed and had limited movement and control of his left hind leg. He was pretty ok from about mid back to his nose, this made our decision even more difficult. This has been a very emotional 2 weeks for me. Sarge was, as Ann says, my dog or I was his human. He was gaining fat weight and losing muscle mass.  This is probably a bit of rambling but I feel I owe it to Sarge's spirit, He was truly a great dog. I am really sad that he was only here for such a short period of time and that a lot of his time was spent suffering from allergies.

We got Sarge and Daisy the same day. There is a puppy farm/store close to us. I had been away on business and Ann and Ryan had been looking at puppies. We had been talking about getting a dog. They spotted a Soft Coated Wheaton and thought it was the best. When I came home, they took me over there to meet this puppy. The one they had been looking at was a bit lethargic, not a bad thing I just thought that was odd. I mean, we're in a puppy place and it was a puppy and should be a bit more energetic. I spotted our Daisy. She was a ball of fire. We played with her for a bit and then I spotted "The German Shepherd puppy". Oh my, he was so handsome and shinny and happy. I asked Ann if we could look at him for a bit. We did! Ann asked "Well what about Daisy"? I said "Let's take 'em both". Ann was a little shocked but we came home with 2 10 week old puppies.

Daisy quickly established who was the Alpha dog. Sarge had her by about 3X. He is a big dog but Daisy was the mother dog from the start. She was not a people dog. We would approach her and she would scurry away and hide somewhere. Sarge on the other hand, was all over you. Everywhere you went he would follow. He loved playing in the back yard, chasing squeaky balls. He would go until he dropped then get up and go some more. He would come inside and lay in front of the water bowl and just lap up all the water, splashing it everywhere then laying in it to cool off.

Sarge was the friendliest dog you ever met. He bark was huge but his gentleness and playfulness came through when you petted him. He taught Daisy how to be a domestic pet. She was so aloof it wasn't even funny. She did not like people, or at least us. She was see Sarge chasing the balls and it would seem she was saying "He's a pretty dumb dog". It took her about a year to warm up and let you pet her and play with her. Now, she will hope on the couch and paw at you to pay attention to her, another habit she picked up from Sarge. You would scratch Sarge on the belly and when you stopped, he would take his big huge paw and kind of gently guide your hand back to his belly. It was the funniest thing.

Sarge has taught many kids to not be so afraid of big dogs. He would sniff the kids, play with them and let them pretty much lay all over him. He loved every minute of it. My niece, Patty Lou, would just lay on Sarge and kiss and hug his back. He loved his kids, all of 'em. I have never met a German Shepherd so gentle and loving and craving all the attention. He is the best.

Sarge was a people dog, I have never met a dog that loves people as much as Sarge did. No matter the person, you were his buddy if you braved his bark and massive presence. Most people, visitors etc., did not know this, they feared his 100 pound presence and his bark. If he were to come home in his current state, we would have to keep him in his crate so he would not injure himself. All I can think about is his 3 kids playing in the living room and him not being able to play and hop and jump with his Anthony. That dog sure likes his Anthony, the feeling in mutual. I can't imagine him not being able to chase Daisy around the back yard trying to catch a squirrel. I can't imagine visitors coming and his tail not banging on every wall in the house, coming home from work and him not being able to run to the door to great me. I never realized how much love I could have for an animal. He is not just an animal though, he is not human, he is just a big part of our family. He would sit and listen to me complain about my job and not judge me. He would listen to my stories of how unhappy I was with something and not even offer a solution, he would just listen. He would listen to me complain about Ryan not scooping the dog poop and just go right on loving Ryan, not an issue for him. He did not hold a grudge. I guess there may be a lot to learn from him.

At about a year old is when his health issues started. It started with a staph infection and graduated to full blown allergies. He went to the doctor quite a bit for the allergies. We finally, after almost 2 years, got him on the right food and medicine. I would have to give him injections every 3rd day the we eventually graduated to once a month. There is still some serum in the fridge. He was a brave dog, he would just stand and let me stick him with a needle, no problem at all. He also had taken more than his fair share of pills. At one point he taking somewhere on the order of 10 pills a day. Antibiotics, steroids and antihistamines were pretty much a standard day for quite a while. While we over seas adopting Katherine and Anthony all of his summer allergies had cleared up. He was pretty much back to normal after 2 years of meds. When the snow thawed, he started to break out again. The antihistamines were back on the table just to relieve some of the symptoms.

He loved to announce his arrival. Every time and I mean every time he stepped out the back door, he bark a couple of barks just to let everybody know he was in the yard. It would make me nuts, especially when it was late at night. I would tell him to shush and he would just keep barking. I think he did just because I told him not to.

He hated the rain and loved the snow. When it was a rainy day, he would hold his pee and poop as long as possible then run out do his business and get back in as quick as he could. He did not like getting his feet muddy either. I think it was more that he hated getting his feet wiped when he back in and figured out where and where not to walk when it was wet out. In the snow, he would try to burrow into the snow and hide from Daisy. They would chase each other around the yard. Sarge was a good snow dog because the snow did not stick to him. Daisy on the other hand would come in with snow balls hanging off of her. I think Sarge would get her wet with slobber and the snow would just stick.

Sarge loved sunning himself. On sunny days he would sit at the sliding glass door and just stare outside. He eventually give a real low and quiet bark/grunt. I would open the door for him and he would just hope outside and lay down in the grass getting full sun. He would lay out there for a long time, just sunning himself. It was like pulling teeth to get him back in on sunny days. Daisy would go out just to near her Sarge. She really does not like the hot sun, I think it is because of her hair type. Sarge did not care, he would just lay in the sun.

He was not a digging dog. They would dig a bit when they were puppies, not much though. Thank god, we have enough divots and pot hold in our back yard. He loved being outside but had all outdoor allergies. He did not seem to care.

They were both crate trained. After they got past the crate living they ran the house. We would close the bedroom doors we did not want them in during the day and the rest of the house was theirs. Sarge was not allowed on the couch. While were out during the day he would lounge around on the couch, you tell by the hair he left behind. We would put can's with coins in them on the couch to deter him but if he really felt like being on the couch he would lay between the cans. If you forgot to put the cans on the couch all bets were off. He would assume that this was the "GO ahead" to be on the couch.

They sleep in our room, always have. Sarge was not really allowed on the bed, again every once in a while he would hop up there. He slept on my side of the room. He bed was on Ann's side but he would always come over to my side. At bedtime, he would stick his nose on the bed for some petting. I miss that. He was also a very very very loud sleeper. Oh my Gosh, could that dog make a ton of noise sleeping. It is now extremely quiet in our room at night. I miss his noise and telling him to stop licking his feet and telling him to go to sleep. I can sometimes still hear his bark and his grunting and groaning. I miss my big Sarge.

Last night we had a game and we won, by the way. We were in separate cars because Ann had come from work. After the game Ann had already taken off to come home and Ryan and I stayed for a few minutes. When we got in the car to come home I decided I wanted to stop somewhere on my way home and knew it would take a bit to get home. I was going to call Ann and let her know. The thought that went through my head was "She is giving Katherine and Anthony a bath, feeding Sarge and Daisy and will let out for potty. Her hands are full, maybe we should go home and help". In that thought, it occurred to me that Sarge is not home nor will he ever be, it brought sadness to my heart. I sure do love that dog. If you are not a dog lover maybe you will not understand this. I just miss him, I know he was not a human but we invested a huge amount of time to care of the "Dog". He was part of our family and now his spirit lives on in our hearts. He was not treated like a person, he was just treated with dignity and respect for his dogness.

Working from home is really different. I am used to Sarge and Daisy running up and down the hall chasing each other and fighting over dog toys. It is really quiet here during the day, I feel sad for Daisy. Daisy spent 24 hours a day 7 days a week for a little over 3 years with Sarge. When we went away on vacation they even shared the same slot on the boarding place. He was her life. She would clean him up often and regular. She would look out for him. Cleaned his eyes, ears and sometimes a wound, if he had one. Now it is just her and all she has is us. We cannot chase her around the yard and bear our teeth and growl and jump and hop and play tug-o-war with a bane with her. She has lost her "brother" and I cry for my Daisy. That has to be really sad to her. I know the pain I feel inside can't possibly compare to what Daisy might feel. Confused, lost, lonely, sad, scared, who knows what else. We have made an extra effort to just love her.

We would get updates from the vet on a daily basis. It annoyed because it seemed to be the same everyday, no real change. We had discussed putting Sarge to sleep and had decided that Thursday was the 2 week period where they say we would see if he had any recovery. He did not. On Thursday morning the vet called to give me the update, nothing. I said that I would be coming down for a visit with Sarge and that we would be putting him down today. She made a statement something to the effect of "A Lot of people chose not to be present when the pet is put to sleep". My answer to that was "When people on death row are given the lethal injection, they have a lot of people show up for the event. The majority may hate him but he has a few loved ones there to see him on to the other side."  I then told her "I love my Sarge and I need to do right by him and everything that he is and was, I am his human and I am making this decision for him and I need to be by his side with Love during his last minutes on this earth." She seemed to respect this answer.

Sarge "passed on" on the 29th of April. I went to the vets office to visit him and to tell him I love him and that he would be on the other side soon, able to use all his limbs. I sat and just petted him for about 20-30 minutes. I had to sign some papers consenting to his euthanasia, such an odd word. When Dr Murray came in she asked "Have you ever done this before". I said "NO".  Then she asked "Are you sure you want to be here for this?". I said, "Yes". Then I said, "NO, I am not sure if I "want" to be here for this but I have to be". I had tears in my eyes as Sarge was given the Anastasia to help him relax. He just kind of fell asleep, then she gave the euthanasia solution, I just had a steady stream of tears running down my face. I just kept telling him "I love you Sarge, you're a good boy". I have tears again.....  Dr. Murray kept listening for his heart to stop and when it did she looked up at me with tears welling up in her eyes. She promptly said "I'm Sorry". He took all of this like a trooper, not that he had a big choice in it. He just trusted that we were doing the right thing and did not complain. I hope it is a long time before I have to make a decision like that again. They say that this is part of dog ownership. I would not trade one moment of the time I had with Sarge to ease the pain that is in my heart. The short 3 years he was with us was WORTH the sadness in my heart and 100 pound hole in our family. Time will heal that wound and our memories will keep him alive in our house. That was a really tough day for me. I had to say goodbye for good and ever to my best friend, my "secret" keeper, my dog companion. I did not realize that death was so sad. Sarge is the first being I have loved and lost to death. I have a lot of relatives that have passed on but I did not know them from Adam.

We had Sarge cremated and will rake some of his ashes in to the yard, the spot he loved to lay and sun himself. Sarge is in our hearts and I hope that "All dogs go to heaven", he most deserving of God's grace. I could go on and on but I will not. Sarge is one of man's finest best friends. He is now gone and has left his mark on our family and his world. Thanks Sarge for all the good and most of the not so good. You will live in my heart. May you rest in peace!

For those who have read this far, Anthony and Katherine are doing great. I will update you on them tomorrow or Monday!

This is a pictorial of Sarge's life! You can tell from the pictures, he had a great life. He was a protector of his humans, nobody messed with us. He made sure of that. He did not like aggressive humans. He loved his kids, all of them. I do not know why, but he just loved his kids. Always wanted to be near them, bedtime he wanted to be in the room, no matter where they were he wanted to be them. When Ryan would be out front, Sarge would whine to go out with him. I think he needed to see you just to make sure everything was ok. He was our protector. He is now guarding the pearly gates, so bring a "Beggin Strip" with you, he loves 'em.

© Bill Delmedico 2013