Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Harley was not our dog originally (hence his name). He belonged to a tenant of ours who asked us to watch him for a couple of weeks when he moved out of the house he was renting so he could get situated. That was 11 years ago.
Harley is our eldest. At 12 years old, he's only 6 months older than the girls, but he shows his age more. He's one of those dogs who got the big-time gray muzzle. It's very sweet. He also has a host of maladies including a thyroid condition, a pancreas condition, and most obviously, an eating disorder. Namely, Harley eats anything he can lay his lips on. He obsesses over food.
In traveling, the upside of this is he doesn't interact much with other dogs. He's too busy looking for new sources of food. As such, he's the perfect introductory ambassador - he's an old guy who poses no threat so new dogs get a mellow introduction to our whole pack.
About two weeks before we departed on our grand adventure we thought he was on his way out. He started losing the use of his back legs and I had to carry him down the back steps at night to go potty. Laurie and I said our tearful goodbyes and on day 3, when I was preparing to take him to the vet for the last time, he came trotting into the house like nothing was wrong. He had what looked like a bite on his elbow a few days prior, so I assumed he had been bitten by a black widow and survived, but there's really no telling.
He had another, similar, minor episode a few days before we left and two more major episodes early on in our trip. After the second biggie, I clamped down on his extra curricular snacking and he instantly got better. As with all the dogs, for the last 4 weeks, we've never seen him looking better. He has loved our adventure and it took 5 pounds off his waist and 5 years off his age. He romps around like a puppy. He swims in the pools and in the ocean. And, he hasn't been eating as many foreign substances as usual.
Yesterday, for the first time ever, Harley didn't eat his breakfast or his dinner. I took him for a walk down to the beach for a swim, but he just stood in the tide up to his ankles. I took him to the pool for a little dip which he enjoyed, but after, he was just being lethargic. I suspected another minor bout of his previous condition so I didn't worry too much.
Harley prefers sleeping outside lately, so he greets me every morning as I come out of the RV, awaiting his thyroid pill wrapped in a tortilla. Monday morning he didn't greet me. As I stepped out of the RV he was lying peacefully next to the steps. His final, peaceful, rest. There have been many mornings when I expected to find him in his final sleep, but that was not one of them. Alive and vibrant one day, gone the next. We're totally bummed, but thankful he went quickly and on a high note - we should all be so lucky.
I always referred to him as "my sweet boy" and Laurie and I both miss him terribly. Martin was out of town on Monday, so I called him and he was kind enough to let Harley rest alongside his dogs who have passed. I can think of no place better for his final resting place. For 7 days he roamed free, swam, played, ate, slept and then called it quits.
Goodbye my sweet boy.