On Tuesday we had to put our dog Guinness down. It was a sad, sad day and a hard, hard decision. Unfortunately, we did not have the thousands of dollars to put into a 50/50 chance of survival on a 9.5 year old dog and the day was made even harder by way of the way we got him.
A little over eight years ago, Guinness came to live with us. We’d been contemplating getting another dog and Zach ran across this ad in the “craiglist” for the school district employees for a free 9 month old black lab and he’d always wanted a black lab to call Duke. We arranged a meeting to see how Lexi would respond and surprisingly, she did not attack. We brought him home to try it out further and he never went back.
He previous owners, had taught him not to go through doors without getting an okay, which always caused problems when we took him to stores. He would coward all the way down aisles. But somehow, they’d not trained him not to chew up everything! I remember the first time we left him for twenty minutes I came home to a shredded library book and a phone that didn’t work. We eventually learned it was more about anxiety than anything else. I think he was scare to be left again, worried he wasn’t loved.
His owners had also tried to name him Scout (as his tag said), but eventually decided on Guinness. We tried to change his name to Duke, but after several weeks, we gave up as he would only respond to Guinness, Guinny or Bubba.
Unfortunately, he had been microchipped and in our eight years of owning him, we’d never known how to change the data on it. So before anyone would agree to put him down, they had to call the “owners” and the wife insisted on calling her husband and questioning our decision. Poor Zach had to wait and sit with a Guinness who was so unhappy and feeling yucky (he hadn’t eaten in weeks and hadn’t drank water in a day) for about thirty minutes before the lady called back. We were a bit worried she wouldn’t call back or that she would say “no.” It was a hard enough situation, we didn’t make it lightly, and this made it all the more challenging.
Guinness wasn’t doing good at the end, but as I watched him climb into the car with Zach, he practiced his old “pull-up” technique. It was so Guinness and I wanted to document as much of who he was. He was a special dog.
His pull-up technique was his silly way of getting on to anything. He did not jump into cars, beds, couches, nope, he’d put his paws on the edge and slowly pull himself up. It was the silliest thing, but allowed him squeeze himself into the 6-inches left on the couch without anyone noticing — one of his trademarks.
As many say, he was a gentle giant. He weighed in at almost 100 pounds and although he got a bit of fat in the end, 85 pounds of that was pure muscle. He was a pillar and would refuse to move if you wanted him too. We had some friends that were scared of him because he’d just stare at you with those big brown eyes. He wouldn’t lick, wag his tail or give any sign of his thoughts, just stare. He his stare got to you and you decided to pet him, he’d wag, he lean and totally enjoy the experience.
He had the softest of soft fur, but he was also the most sheddiest (I’m sure that isn’t a word) dog I’ve ever been around. Barely touch him and your hand would come away black and the drain always got plugged with his tiny little hairs when he got a bath, but man would he glisten. He was seriously a beauty.
He was fiercely protective. We got him to help Lexi become more social and he quickly took to being the protector, so much so, that we had to give up trips to the dog park because other dogs, especially big fluffy dogs, were not allowed within 100 feet of us. We wouldn’t fight, but rather would run up as fast as he could barking and barrel over the dogs, get embarrassed and run back to us with his tail between his legs.
But he was so gentle. He spent hours grooming Lexi, until she’d get mad and growl at him. He bit his nails and kept them super trim (good thing too, because they were black as black can be). And his way of begging was setting his head on your leg until you gave in.
He was great with the kids. Isaac and him were best buds for years and Guinness would let him climb on him, drive trucks on him, to practically anything to him (with the exception of playing with his ears – he hated that).
He was a great dog, so much personality, so much love. We will miss Guinness, the gentle giant, especially at our St. Patty’s Day Party, which is when we always celebrated his birthday since we didn’t know when it really was.
If you’d like to see some of our favorite picture from over the years, please enjoy this slideshow at http://jzmccarty.smugmug.com/Other/GuinnessTrib/