Off Topic: A Glimpse into the life of George, and All-American Mutt

I’m supposed to be at the vet’s office in an hour with my pooch, George.  He’s due for his yearly physical but they’re also going to partially sedate him so they can do an x-ray of his left forelimb because he has been limping for some time now.  They’re looking for a reason for the limp, so the x-ray is being done to find out if he has arthritis (he’s seven, a senior by large dog standards) or something more nefarious like bone cancer.  I’m hoping that it’s the lesser of the two evils but all in all I’m pretty stressed out and worried about my dear friend.  He’s a big lovable lug and he has a very special place in my heart, as well as the hearts of my wife and daughter.

When we got George he was about ten months old and had been brought to the Animal Care League here in Oak Park from a shelter in Oklahoma as part of a program to prevent dogs from being euthanized.  We met George one Thursday afternoon at a street fair in Oak Park where the ACL had set up under a storefront.  George was this beautiful, friendly 51 pound pup, gold in color with matching gold eyes.  We took him for a walk and that sealed the deal.  They thought he was a mix of a shepherd and retriever, but weren’t certain.  He had been a street dog who’d had no home until he was picked up by animal control.  All I knew was he was a beautiful soul who needed a home that we were very happy to provide.

We took George home to our apartment and started our life with him.  It was a fourth of July weekend when we brought him home and the fireworks caused him so much stress that I slept with him on the floor that first night.  From that point on we’ve been best buds.  It turned out that George was carrying a ton of parasites, and after we got that taken care of he started packing on the weight and growing larger.  Six weeks after the parasites were gone he was a whopping 103 pound bruiser with a heart of gold.  There was a mastador down the street from us who was built the same way, just a little bit taller and a tad heavier.  That was when we started to suspect that he might be something other than what the folks thought at the ACL.  But that didn’t matter, because he was big lovable G-dog.

The vets put him on a diet and we were supposed to bring him down to his “ideal weight” which they put at 85lbs.  Honestly, I don’t know how they determined that because he really didn’t look fat to me, he just looked big and brawny, but they are the experts so that’s what we did.  It was quite difficult because we were also trying to train him at the same time, and he was very food motivated, still is for that matter.  But we prevailed and George dropped to 85.  Regardless of the weight he was always friendly and enthusiastic about meeting people and other animals and he never made a fuss when people came to the apartment.

Interestingly enough that changed a bit when we bought and moved into our house.  G-dog evidently decided that it was the place to be, because he took upon himself the job of security specialist; a job that he has taken very seriously to the point where we have to keep the front blinds closed so he doesn’t go nuts when people walk by on the other side of the street.  Once people are in the house he’s all about making nice with them; he’s the same on the street with both people and dogs, but if you come to the door he acts like he’s going to eat you.

So here we are in another phase of our life with Mr. G.  He’s currently back up to around 100 pounds, burly, but slower than he was and the gimp has us worried.  When the vet said that George was a senior citizen at one of our recent appointments I almost cried.  I’ve known for some time that large breeds have shorter life spans but I’m having difficulties wrapping my head around my beloved best buddy being on the shorter end of the branch.  He’s such a loving and warm fellow, and pretty smart too, when he wants to be.  It’s almost time to head to the vets to try to find out what’s going on with him.  I’m hoping he still has a good deal of time left to spend with us.



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