Man’s Best Friend

When I was in third grade, my parents decided we could get a dog! I was beyond excited!! I picked out all your typical kid dog names such as Spot, Roofus, Shadow, Max, etc. We ended up going to a breeder who bred all labradors. My Dad had said to us “Don’t get too excited we don’t know if we will even leave with a puppy today.” My Dad even went through the bit where he says: “That dog won’t be sleeping in our bed when we get it!” I knew though, I knew we were getting our puppy that day. 

We drove to somewhere in New York, to meet all the little puppies. When we got to the ladies’ house there were a bunch of little puppies in the corner of her house in a playpen, but only one stood out amongst the rest. This cute little black lab immediately stole all of our hearts.

It turns out he wasn’t even supposed to be there that day, but the ladies’ husband decided for the first time, not to take him in the truck with him for a ride.  It was meant to be, he was ours, he was left behind that day so we could find him.

I was so nervous he would pee on me on the drive home, that I had Austin put him on his lap. I was just too nervous!

As we got home, not even fully into the house yet my Dad announces “We are naming him Strider!”. 

“No! I thought I was going to pick!” I whined. It didn’t matter; my Dad had decided that our dog was going to be named after his favorite ‘Lord Of The Rings’ character Strider. Looking back it was honestly the perfect fit. Strider had my Dad hook line and sinker. 

Oh was Strider trouble! In the first days of having him, he tried to run away. He had gotten out the side door as the garage door was shutting and I swear he was going to be smooshed to bits. This was before garages had the control of going back up if it touched something before fully closing. Then he runs right out into the middle of the street! My Dad literally had to halt two cars on the road where everyone sped to stop them from hitting him.

Yup, Strider was T.R.O.U.B.L.E!  He learned how to get into my room and eat all of my socks and stuffed animals, but he was ours and was as much fun as he was a terror.

We were lucky that my cousin Shella visiting from California showed him a thing or two (she has a way with animals that is amazing), that and he had to go to puppy training school.

When we moved from Danbury, he had the biggest yard to play in (not that we didn’t have a great yard back in Danbury), and of course, we had to have all the doorknobs changed because he learned how to jump up and pull down on them. You also had to be super careful with food. You couldn’t leave anything on the kitchen counters! He knew how to jump up and grab what he wanted. He was stealthy, one turn of your head, and your food would just be gone. 

Strider had become a best friend to each of us. He went from room to room when it came to sleeping. Like he knew we all needed him.

He became even more of a best friend for my Dad when my parents separated. My parents had come to an agreement that my Dad would have Strider while he was in CT, and when he traveled to Florida in the winter or took any vacations my Mom would have him. It was the perfect split.  As much as we all loved Strider.

My Dad loved/needed him the most. When dad was alone, he was never fully alone. And when Dad had his let’s call them “spills”, Strider was right there by his side like he wanted to help. The term “Man’s best friend” is no joke. 

If Dad was in Florida he would call me and tell me to put the phone next to Strider’s ear so he could talk to him. He even asked me once if I could put a t-shirt on the dog, then send it to him so he could remember what he smelled like. I could understand that because his paws smelled like popcorn, and as odd as this may sound I miss sniffing those paws. I could go on, and on about how amazing of a dog he was. That he always knew when you needed him, that he nipped at people’s butts because he didn’t want them to leave or that he couldn’t help himself near skunks and has been sprayed I can’t even count how many times. But I’ll move on and get to the point.

When Strider was thirteen we discovered he had bone cancer. We were all devastated, but my Dad took it the hardest.

Strider lived mostly with my Dad so he had to see the more day to day pain of it all.

I sometimes would go to my Dad’s house just to lay with my Stridey boy. He wasn’t just a pet; he was family. He was handsome and loving, and amazing. Eventually, my Dad called us one day and said: “It’s time, I can’t watch him be in this much pain anymore.” 

We, as a family had been through a lot at this point. It wasn’t the first time we thought we had to put him down, as you read in the post forgiveness. There was a lot that needed resolving, but this day we banded together as a whole family. And Strider was a huge part of that. Dad, Mom, Austin, and I all came together that day for our boy. The month before that day we lost my grandmother on my Dad’s side, so this was just another punch in the gut. Especially for my Dad.

The day we said goodbye to Strider was a sunny, beautiful day, and when Strider looked at us, you could see in his eyes he knew what was happening. 

We were lucky. Dad had found a mobile vet that would come to you, so you could put your pet down in a comfortable environment. We brought Stridey out in our Dad’s beautiful backyard where he loved to play, we all wept, and we were all holding onto him. It was one of the saddest days, but in a way, he made our family come together, and we needed that; badly

Dad had a very hard time, and we knew he was going to slip, he was already slipping. And he knew it.

Dad felt a lot of loss in a matter of two months, and of course, the road ahead of that is never easy for anyone, let alone an addict. But that dog brought us together again, and it started to heal wounds that surrounded our family for quite a while. Especially between my brother and Dad. At least I like to think that was the beginning of the healing. 

Strider was a fantastic dog, that will never be forgotten. Our pets can be truly wonderful gifts brought into our lives for a reason. They love unconditionally, judge never, and bring love. RIP baby boy we all still love and miss you very much. Thank you for all you did for our family, for each one of us to have had the chance to feel your love. 

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All opinions and conclusions are my own. I am not a medical professional and I am not able to provide you with personalized medical recommendations. If you need help, there are many sources of information and places to get help.