September was a rough month. Aside from the mad rush to finish projects in the house to get it ready for sale, we were devastated by the sudden loss of Aleksandr, our dear, sweet dog of twelve years.
Long-time readers of my blog know that I have referred to Aleksandr by alternate names, including Doggle Woggle. I’ve treated our dog like our kids on my blog, not using his actual name for privacy reasons. (Not his privacy, but for family privacy in terms of sharing too much information.) However, we loved him so much that we also had many nicknames for him offline, our terms of endearment. They included Pup Nup, Mr. Nup, Aleksandr Thomas Nup, Alek, Booba, Boo, The Sleak, Shiny Eel, Flappy, Zander, and The Good Morning Puppy.
We got Aleksandr on October 5, 2010, at the insistence of Young Son, who wanted a dog even though he was in his final year of high school. He thought it would be a good experience for us once he left home.
We picked Alek out of a litter of three siblings (there was a fourth who was being treated for an eye infection, I believe) who had been surrendered to the Morrison County Humane Society by a farmer. Young Son, Hubby and I spent an hour in the outdoor enclosure with all three siblings in order to figure out which one might have the best temperament for our family. The female of the group was too aggressive and the other male was too meek. Aleksandr (who was called Tom at the Humane Society) was right in the middle, gentle, but not too timid to stand up for himself if his sister got too rough.
He was a mix of black lab and German shorthair pointer, which is apparently an intentional breed. He had the sleek, barrel-chested shape of a pointer and the gentleness and black coat of a lab. And, oh, those soft, flappy ears! (Hence, the nickname “Flappy.”)
Young Son picked the name Aleksandr for him and insisted we use the Russian spelling.
Here is a photo of our sweet Booba when we brought him home.
And here is another.
He was so small! And look at those long legs!
He was pretty scared of us and hung out in a corner of the couch until we were eating a bag of potato chips. Then he got curious and we offered him a chip, which he gobbled down. He warmed up to us after that.
Here is one of my favorite photos of Alek when he was small.
He grew to be a fairly big dog, weighing 70 pounds. Those long puppy legs grew longer and springier. For as large as he was, he was extremely gentle. If we offered him food by hand, he softly took it from us. He was also gentle and patient with smaller dogs, including our granddog (we call him “Strange Small Dog”) who liked to bounce around and tease Alek.
One of his favorite activities was snoobling tiny stuffed animals we purchased at Ikea.
From the very beginning, he owned the couch in the house.
He also adopted his own chair.
He was scared to walk on slippery floors and would leap straight into the air when bikes would come too close during walks.
He loved to sprint after balls at the dog park and take twice-daily walks with me. Even when it was super below-zero cold, he had to have his walks, even if they were only a minute or two long.
Alek was always so energetic that even during this last year, when we would tell people how old he was, they couldn’t believe it. They always thought he was much younger.
Over the past couple of years, however, we noticed that he had trouble jumping up into the car, so we bought him a ramp. During the last few months, increasingly we needed to lift him up into the bed.
He was due for his annual wellness checkup with the vet, which we scheduled for September 20, 2022. The Saturday before, he started limping, favoring one of his front legs. We had this examined by our vets, Drs. Maria & Rob Orr at Community Animal Hospital. They thought it was a pulled tendon and gave us a painkiller and told us to avoid having him jump down off of things.
A few days after this visit, he started having trouble standing on his back legs and wasn’t eating very much. We went back to the vet for X-rays on September 27. They couldn’t find anything obvious wrong with his legs and thought he was having trouble with the disks in his lower back. They scheduled a couple of treatments of cold laser therapy the same week.
Alek’s back legs got even weaker and he started throwing up. We went back to the vet and they gave him an anti-nausea medication. He stopped eating and drinking altogether and we had to fully support him to get him up. His stomach was also ballooning with gas and his eyes seemed unfocused. We thought the end was near, but we couldn’t believe it.
We spent his last couple of days giving him lots of love and crying. We knew he was dying and we had to make the difficult decision to have him euthanized so he wouldn’t suffer. (We had let our cats be ill for far too long before their deaths.) When we took him back to Dr. Maria, she said that it was time. We were with him as he took his last breath.
We miss our sweet puppy terribly. He was the best dog ever.