The best dog in the world

Bryan and I got a dog in January of 2004 just 3 months after we were married.  We had driven down to Stillwater with my mom and sister, who were visiting, with the intention of biking at Lake McMurtry.  Well, we decided to check out the humane society on the way since we had seen a couple dogs on Petfinder.org that appealed to us.  I liked the idea of getting a beagle-ish dog; I had never had a big dog growing up, but we didn’t want a little fuzz puppy either.  Our pet needed to be tough and fun and love to be outside with us.  We wandered up and the disorganized stinky kennels for a short time before we saw him.  There were some puppies that were cute, but then Bryan spotted this black and tan hound dog that was jumping at the cage and seemed so exicted to see us that his giganitc tail might whip right off.  We asked the girls working (maybe, it may have technically been closed that day) if we could take him out to the run and they said sure.  He played chase, he wrestled, he howled, he rolled in the grass, he wasn’t aggressive, and his whole face just smiled with personality.  We found our perfect match!  The pound had named him ‘Arlo’ and it was obvious he had no idea about that.  After paying our $25 and agreeing to get him fixed for free at a particular vet…we were off.  Arlo hopped right into the back of the Jeep and we were too excited to mess with biking.  Not 20 minutes into our drive home, mom insisted that Bryan pull over so she could drive.  He was too busy looking in the mirror at Arlo and not watching the road.  So, we all switched around so Bryan and I could sit in the back and pet our new love.  Arlo laid down in a tiny curled up ball and rested.  At home Bryan quickly ran out to the store for a dog bed and some food and bowls.  Arlo then got a much needed bath.  He reeked of poo and doggy stank, but he was so fun.  That first night we kept him in the kitchen since we weren’t sure of his potty abilities.  He whined, though, and we stayed with him for a while.  Eventually he got a kennel and seemed to take to to it.  At his first vet appointment we got him shots and found out he had mange – gross – but was otherwise healthy and happy.  Those first couple years with Arlo in our house in Enid were so memorable.  I recall our kitty Ding not taking to Arlo at first, but then later he enjoyed the kennel more than Arlo.  I remember Arlo’s digging obsession.  He would dig trenches in the back yard, but they would head toward the center of the yard away from the fence though he could clearly have dug out if he wanted.  For a long time we had a running joke that he had been a frat puppy at OSU since he loved having people over and was ever present if there was any beer.  In fact he would purposely knock over cups to get to the beer and would never let a drop go wasted.  Because he was so energetic I would run with him almost everyday; I got one of those special hands-free jogging around-the-waist leashes for Christmas.  Arlo and I put in alot of miles together.  He was so full of energy that we bought one of those dog run cable tie-outs for his entertainment.  Since the backyard was fenced he was free to play out there all day.  Instead of using the tie out for him, we would tie one of his toys to the end of it and he would run back and forth and tug with it for hours.  It made this crazy creaking noise inside the house since it was attached to the corner of our porch.  Hysterical.  I hope we have video of that.  The other thing I hope we have video of is the world-famous butt chase.  Arlo loved to get his butt.  It’s like the thing was sassing at him and he needed to bite at it.  He would run and even leap in circles for it until he could loop a front paw around a back leg to drag it closer.  His goal (I guess) was to chomp down on his behind and he’d get it sometimes!  It was insanely funny.  He was quite a bendy dog.  At nights Arlo would curl into a ball no bigger than a throw pillow, but then sometimes would stretch out on the floor so long with his front legs outstretched and his back legs twisted around to lay flat straight behind him.  It looked like his back legs were chicken thighs!  What a funny dog.  He was tall – lanky – thin and almost greyhound shaped with long legs and a super long tail.  But, he was truly a hound dog and once his puppy fur puffed out got a nice shiny black top coat with brown brindled legs, belly, and muzzle.  Arlo’s cute face cracked me up because he had eyebrows – brown eyebrows agains his black face that would give away his mood and just gave his face such amazing expressions.  When we lived in Oklahoma we took him everywhere!  He loved car rides though he would never sit down and always fell all over the place.  I would say, “look Arlo, moooooo cows” and he would take to howling in that hound dog way that he got hoarse.  I always wondered what he’d actually do if let loose in a field of cows.  He loved to hike and sniff and dig at stuff and camp out.  When we camped he turned on his guard dog duty ears and kept alert all night.  I don’t think he ever truly slept when we would camp out.  Arlo also loved to swim in ponds and chase ducks, so much so that if not called back I seriously think he would’ve swum around until he drowned.  He’d swim and swim and his head would sink lower and lower until there was barely a snout above the water, then he’d come out and shake off and jump back in.  Crazy dog.  When we moved to Tucson I thought he’d love the pool, but – always a wierdo – he hated it.  It’s like the clean clear water scared him – he much preferred something with scum growing on top.  He loved the heat in Arizona.  I thought him a lunatic sometimes for laying outside in the baking sun when it was over 100 degrees, but he just loved it.  Warmed him to the bones. Arlo also loved hiking and rock climbing on Mt. Lemmon which we did all the time even after Zoe was born.  And he was so sweet with Zoe.  He would come get me if she cried and, most adorable, he took to sleeping in her room on the floor instead of with us like he always had.  Good protector dog.  He let her pet, pat, pull, and chew on him without a flinch.  If he was tired of it he’d just walk outside through the dog door and soak up the sun – Arlo even taught Zoe to crawl out the dog door.  As she got older, even just last week, he was her favorite playmate for dress ups.  Arlo always looked quite lovely in jewelry, tiara’s, and capes.  She’d even drape her doll clothes on him and he would lay there to enjoy her company.  In the desert his digging skills were put to the test.  The ground squirrels would drive him nuts, and yet he just could’nt dig down into that hardpan. Unfortunately, he got the valley fever cough from it – never knew this until a couple months ago – we had him tested in Arizona and it came back negative, but now years later it looks like he had it but got over it naturally. Such a sturdy dog.  I guess the digging kept his claws nice and trim.  In fact, I never trimmed his claws until we were in Korea. I don’t think he liked Korea too much…though it had it’s dog perks.  There were lots of crazy smells and all kinds of nasty things on the ground to eat.  He didn’t have a yard, though, and during the cold winter it was tough to get out even for just a walk.  But, we all made do.  It was better for him to be with his family, and I know he thought that too.  I’m sure Arlo loved our small apartment with the heated floor and the close quarters because he could keep track of us all at once.  He enjoyed hanging out on his balcony watching the day go by and looking out for Bryan coming home.  He especially liked days we walked to the playground where the Korean kids all got up the courage to touch him or through food for him.  Amazingly, he flew on a nonstop 14 hour flight (plus 2 hours for loading and unloading) from New York to Seoul without an accident in his kennel….and then again from Seoul back to Atlanta.  He was always so concious of pottying outside.  When he was younger we had a rope with some bells and a tennis ball around the doorknob for him to jingle when he needed to go…in Tucson he had the dog door.  Later, he would just stare at the door until we realized he needed to go out.  Ever a noble steed.  When we’ve gone on trips without him our freinds who dog sit all want to take him home with them. As we moved here to Georgia Arlo seemed to again be wild and young.  He loved running in the fened backyard and his renewed squirrel duties.  His job has always been to keep the critters out of my garden.  When Avi was born he again started sleeping in the baby’s room on the floor.  Protector dog.  Anytime Bryan was gone Arlo was on call.  I always felt so safe in the house alone with Arlo.  I knew if something happend he would howl and take care of things.  He seemed acutely aware of when it was his turn to be man of the house and would even sleep with me in bed to make me feel safe and comforted.  Such a good heater!  In fact, he’d even sleep under the covers since he was often cold.  When we took him to the land in Kentucky or to the beach he would just run and run wild and free like nothing could ever touch him.  But, in the summer we found out he had an old ACL injury that wasn’t operable since it was old.  So, we had to force him to lay off the running for a few months.  It seemed to work.  When we went camping in Kentucky in October he was youthful and running all over creation without any sign of pain or soreness or stiffness.  He was back to normal.  Then in November he started whining when we’d brush by his head or if he had to turn his neck quickly.  After a couple appointments and his whining turning into holding his held in a funny way, the vet discovered he had a tumor at the base of his skull on his spine.  We were hoping it was a reoccurance of the valley fever fungal infection – that we could treat it and be on our merry way.  It was not.   We didn’t put him through a biopsy or surgery because the actual tumor was inoperable.  it was just too clustered into his neck and head.  We kept him mostly pain free and comfortabel with meds, but it’s amazing how quickly things deteriorate.  By Christmas time he was having more bad days than good days.  On good days he would be up and around, eating, maybe go for a walk, playing with the kids – not running and crazy like usual, but happy.  On bad days he would’nt move or he’d whine in pain.  I’d give him more meds to help out.  So, Bryan chose to drive up to PA with Arlo instead of flying home for Christmas.  That way Arlo would be with us.  Safe with the people who love him the most.  When we returned at the beginning of January he was having more good days than not.  He loved going on walks while I pushed the stroller and Zoe rode her new bike.  He seemed happy to play dress-ups again and he was no longer acting depressed.  But, these last few days his breathing got quite labored and his body started to look less muscular.  As always…such a good boy…he went outside with us, he ate his food, he was the the ever present companion and door greeter. On Wednesday night he didn’t want to leave his spot on the living roomg floor, so I covered him up  and told him that we’d be OK if he had to go, that I would miss him and that I loved him soooo much.  I laid with him for a bit and then went to bed.  He soon came in and also went to sleep in his house beside the bed – he had to watch over me since Bryan wasn’t home yet.  At 2am Bryan let him out to go potty then he returned to his Arlo House by our bed.  In the morning he was gone.  Not a whine or a sound – he just peacefully went to sleep right where he always was – by our sides. I wasn’t prepared to lose him at 7 years old, I truly thought I’d have 7 more and he’d be alright .  We’re now trying to celebrate his life.  We spent the morning with him laying in the room lookng at old pictures and remembering the funny stuff he did.  We also have been crying alot.  Zoe got to see him and chose to pet him and say goodbye. Later we all took his body to vet for creamation; it was so hard. Bryan took the day off to spend with us and Zoe ‘s been crying with me and then also comforting me and will say that she loved playing with him and petting him.  Me too.

4 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing Arlo's life with us. I know he was loved dearly by you all. He will truly be missed. Thinking of you all during these days of sorrow.

  2. Wow Kat. That was an incredible story to commemorate the life of an incredible dog. He was a joy for us to watch and Syd to play with. So sorry his life was shorter than it should have been but at least it was full and wonderful for the whole 7 years. We're thinking about you all. It is so hard to lose a family member.
    Love, Erin (and the rest of the Stevens family)

  3. I'm so sorry Kat!
    He was a good boy for your family.

    I'm so sorry because I'm not friendly to him while he was in Korea.

    He will be no more pain and peaceful!!

    Take care Zoe!!

    Jiyoung.

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