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Friday, September 30, 2016

Rinehart

Flashback Friday!


The very last dog I owned was back around the mid '90s, a puppy I picked up from the side of a very rural highway along with 3 other dumped puppies, all of them very different and no house in sight for miles either way. I live in a big puppy mill area, so that one wasn't hard to figure out. This one singled himself out from the rest immediately, instead of crying in the back seat was standing quietly wedged along the door frame between my window and the back of my seat so he could see out, very easy to see he was intelligent and had a steady nature about him. I was on my way to my mom's house, so when I got there I called around to ask if anyone had any dog food, big no on that, but my sister had a frozen heart from a calf or bull they'd butchered. Those poor pups must've have been so utterly starving, they really worked on that giant heart that was as big as they were for a solid hour, actually made some progress since it was hot out and it thawed as they worked on it.


All of the puppies looked like halvsie breeds instead of mutts, like one was obviously part St. Bernard and my brother's girl fell in love with it, another was part German Shepherd, so my dad wound up with it, the 4th part black lab, but I already had dibs on the white one by the time I got them all out of the car. He turned out to be a natural pointer, about the size and build of a bird dog but colored so differently than people are used to that I heard "Oh, what a pretty Dalmation" a lot. This dog was NOT a Dalmation. He was a Pointer and started snapping into a natural point when he was still a puppy. When he was tiny he looked exactly like the RCA puppy.


I named him Rinehart after a hobby pilot my dad knew who used to buzz our house on Sundays, because he's colored a bit like Snoopy and I connected those dots. Rinehart was the smartest and funnest dog I ever met in my life, integrated very well into family, behaved splendidly in the house (never once jumped up on furniture or clawed a door), and very vivacious when allowed off the long clothesline chain Scott rigged up for him so he could run back and forth across the entire back yard, which is fairly big. He had a hard time figuring out frisbees, though. He loved them, but insisted on carrying them upside down so that they were flipped up in front of his face, and he'd have to run weirdly sideways peeking around it.


He went through the usual bad doggy stuff. Made a gift basket from Rinehart for the neighbor after he chewed up a corner of their sunlight window in the roof of their ground home. Took off roaming a few times and dragged home beaten half to death by a farmer or head swelled up from a snake bite kind of thing, so we learned to keep him on the chain or keep him very busy playing with us. He loved howling with ambulance sirens in the distance, and I was once very startled to hear that again one day after he died.


The really sad thing about puppy mill dogs is that they often have genetic problems, and Rinehart got the hard luck out of all the puppies I rescued. Before he was even a year old he started stumbling a lot, and a vet confirmed his cervical disks had already started fusing with a severe arthritic condition. By the time he was two he'd been on daily anti inflammatory meds for severe arthritis for over a year to help keep him active, and by the time he was three the vet was having me keep him doped solid on pain pills for horses. He spent his last year high as a kite and active right up to the end until it suddenly all stopped just before he'd have turned four, and a vet confirmed kidney failure. I asked for the sleep shot and went home and cried for days. I had never cried over a dog before in my life, and I've never had another dog since. What I usually don't add is that I've spent my adult life on meds for a very painful condition myself, and having this dog in particular around while I was home alone sometimes too ill to do much during autoimmune flares was what kept me going while Scott worked 10-12 hour days and the kids were in school. It was also the toughest part of our marriage, and the dog gets full credit for holding us all together during a couple of really rough years. Scott took it personally when I had Rinehart put to sleep and couldn't speak to me for awhile.


A few really interesting things happened with this dog that I'd never seen before. Scott and a crew built this house on previously unbuilt on land, but we had so many weird things happen that we called the house haunted and even said maybe an old Indian spirit was hanging around. We'd hear the door open and someone walk in several times a week, or glass breaking that was so realistic that we'd search the house for broken glass. Many times we heard a radio and would scour the house for any kind of tech left on. The neighborhood we're in is spread out along a flint ridge, and most of the neighbors were gone during the days, and most of this stuff happened in broad daylight during the days. One day I was taking a nap on the couch, Rinehart was sound asleep on the livingroom floor, and the stairs behind me woke us up sounding exactly like someone was coming down the stairs. Rinehart growled with every hair on his back up and stared at a spot on the stairs past me where the sound stopped, and I told him, "It's ok, it won't hurt you, go back to sleep" and he instantly let it go and we both went back to sleep. Before that I never had any real validation that it wasn't all in my head.

Yes, I miss my dog.

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