A bit over 15 years ago, I decided that it was time to get a dog. I was living in my parents’ home as my dad had gone to live with his lady friend and while they were trying to sell it, they wanted someone staying there. But the house was very empty with just me rattling around in it and so one day, we went to a no-kill shelter on the South Shore of Montreal. The second dog I met was this big ball of white fur that trotted up to me, put its front paws on my stomach, and said, hey there, stranger, I would really like to be your best friend. And I said, yes, let’s be best friends forever. And as we drove back home, he curled up right next to me and put his head on my lap and slept like that, very contented.
I renamed this already-by-then three-year old dog Odin, after the Nordic god. At first, I was a bit disappointed because he never barked and I had wanted a dog to feel more secure, among other reasons. But it was just a question of time before Odin decided that this really was his home and when he began barking, well, he would bark at anything he saw crossing the street in front of the house. And coming towards the house. And leaving the region of the house. After all, he was part terrier.
A few weeks after I bought Odin into my life, I met André. The two of them bonded almost immediately and thus we became a family.
Odin was never the brightest of dogs (I was never able to teach him to sit on command, no matter how often I tried), but he compensated through his affectionate personality. He loved people. He loved getting pettings, he loved snuggling up against you, he loved to go up to strangers and say “hi!”. But mostly, he loved car rides.
We called him the “chien de char” (car-crazy dog). Any car door that was open was an invitation for getting in, even if it wasn’t our car. It was for him that I suggested we go camping for our vacations, as we could then bring him everywhere with us without worrying about whether a hotel would accept him or not.
André and Odin had a game that they loved to play: hide and go seek, or rather run after each other, then hide and go seek. André would run after Odin, Odin would run after André, and they would change sides like this. Usually, when the man was chasing the dog, Odin would come up to me and “stand his ground” there, barking, ready for another round of chase. In the middle of the game, André would use the moments when Odin was running up to me to go hide somewhere (e.g., behind the door in the bathroom). Then I would call to Odin to find André and off the dog would go, looking here and there. At some point, he would either find André or André would jump out from his hiding place to scare him and then there would be another round of running around the house.
It has been a long while since the two of them have played the game. Odin has been progressively losing strength in his back legs for several months now and wasn’t even interested in going for walks, much less running.
Yesterday evening, Odin couldn’t get up anymore. I tried putting him on his paws a couple of times but all he did was stand fraily for a few seconds and then fall back down.
I am writing this as we wait for the vet clinic to open up. It will be his last visit there.