Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Story of Grumpus

(this is not an entry about gaming.)

This evening, I'm bringing my dog Goober to an animal shelter. I don't want to get into the long and sad reasons my wife and I can't keep him. Instead, I'd just like to talk about his life with us. Following is an open letter I'll be leaving with him. I wanted to record it somewhere to remember him.

My wife and I adopted Goober on December 19th, 2008 from the Humane Society in Honolulu, Hawaii. We had no medical history or knowledge of his past but our veternarian estimated that he was 1-2 years old when we adopted him, he was in excellent health, and he appears to be purebred. We lived in Hawaii until January of 2011, when I got out of the Army and we moved back to Michigan. In August of 2012, I got a job in Washington, D.C. and so we moved here. He took to the name Goober well enough, and since he was more or less fully-grown, we didn't want to rename him. Were we to rename him, though, I would have called him Grumpus. Indeed, I sometimes called him that, anyway. I'm not sure if he realized that was his "second" name.

In the time that we've had Goober, his health issues were relatively minor. The most common issue, understandably, are ear infections. He used to get them often in Hawaii, but they've tapered off since then; it's now been at least a year, maybe longer, since his last infection. We regularly rinse his ear canals with an over-the-counter dog ear cleaning solution, and that seems to help. He caught a decent bacterial infection earlier this year, but after some medications and extended rest, he's back to normal. The only lingering issue he now has are that his hindlegs are prone to strain. If he moves just the wrong way, or if we pick him up the wrong way, he'll yelp in pain and be very stiff for the next few days. The vet confirmed that this is not a degenerative condition or disease or anything; it's just a cheerful dog playing too hard!

Temperament wise, Goober is very sweet, gentle, and needy. He loves attention, mostly from humans, though he is very gentle and curious with other dogs, as well. He is absolutely NOT aggressive, and in fact can be quite bashful at times, especially around men (perhaps something that happened before we got him). He can be very playful; his favorite game is to take a rawhide chew in his mouth and act like he's going to let me take it, then he growls and runs off, and expects me to chase him! When I would chase him and grab the rawhide from his mouth, he'd growl fiercely and act like a meaner, bigger dog than he really is. But just looking at his wagging tail and you'll see he's actually having a lot of fun. He'll tell you the game is over by finally just laying on the floor.

Goober is fully potty-trained, and in fact has a pretty amazing bladder. When we transported him from Hawaii to Michigan, he had to remain in his kennel for over 24 hours. He didn't pee a single drop the entire time. Throughout his life with us, he's had to remain indoors for 8, 10, sometimes even 12 hours at a time, and very rarely has he ever gone in the house.

Food is absolutely the best way to motivate him to do anything. Keeping treats on-hand for him is an easy way to get him to go where you want him to go, do what you want him to do, or otherwise behave. Goober rarely barks, and when he does, it's usually to tell me he wants to come back inside, back when we used to have a yard. 

Instead of barking, Goober whines. He can be quite a whiner, sometimes. He would sometimes just wander around the house, whining like a lost child. He won't bark when you come home; he'll whine. He won't bark to go outside; he'll whine. Like a baby, sometimes Goober just cries when he wants to sleep and doesn't know it. Usually firmly telling him to go lay down is all it takes. His whining would drive my wife crazy. It never bothered me that much, though.

Goober absolutely ADORES puppies, and will run around with them all day, if he gets the chance (we suspect the problems with his hindlegs were initially caused by playing around too much with a neighbor's puppy). Goober loves children, too, but if you have smaller kids, be careful; Goober's been known to snatch a hot dog right out of a kid's hand!

Throughout his life, we've consistently fed him Science Diet. Recently, we've begun mixing a half can of green beans with his every meal; he considers it a treat, and the fiber is good for him. In the past, we've spoiled him with baked egg whites (he is NUTS about poultry). He'll take medicine easily with a small spoonful of peanut butter. For an occasional treat, we've also fed him bananas.

It absolutely breaks our hearts that we're giving him up. Goober deserves a great home, and sadly we can't provide it for him anymore. He's been happy with us, and we've always loved him and always will. I hope he finds a comfortable, happy home for him to live out the remaining years of his life. 

Ed Gibbs

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