Monday, March 31, 2014


Mike used to tell me that he wanted a dog all the time.  I didn't grow up with pets.  We had a dog when I was a tiny girl but don't remember her and then when we lived on the farm we found some stray cats but they just roamed the place and didn't really act like pets.  I really did not want a pet and especially not a dog.  I had always had a fear of dogs and never particularly liked them.  We lived near the local pound and every few months (maybe more) we would pile the boys in the car and drive to the pound.  I figured that maybe Mike could get his dog fill from going to see them at the pound.  It was always smelly and loud and seeing them behind a cage was good enough for me.  

We had Eli in April of 2008.  In May Mike asked if we could take the boys to the pound.  I thought, "Why not?  We need to get out of the house."  Off to the pound we went.  The pound had just built these new "visiting rooms" where if you saw a dog or cat you were interested in the workers would bring them into the room and you could play with the animal and decide if it would be a good fit.  This particular day they had dogs already in the visiting rooms and people would just come in and out.  We walked through the pound and the boys and Mike had a good time looking at all the animals.  As we were about to leave we walked by one of the visiting rooms and saw four tiny black fur balls.  Mike wanted to go see them and let the boys hold a puppy so we went in the room and Mike fell in love.  

It was a little of puppies that were all brothers hoping to find owners.  Most of the dogs were typical puppies, busy and excited.  One dog in particular seemed much more calm, enjoying watching his brothers getting the attention.  That was the dog Mike was drawn to.  And I have to admit, I was too.  He was the cutest thing I had ever seen.  I honestly had no idea a dog could be so cute.  I heard myself saying, "If we are going to get a dog, that is the dog we need."  That was all Mike needed.  He was out the door calling for a worker to figure out what we needed to do to take this little fur ball home.  I couldn't believe what was happening.  We were not supposed to be taking a dog home.  I just had a baby six weeks prior.  I had no idea how to take car of a dog and I couldn't take care of a puppy and then three kids three and under.  And I didn't even like dogs.  What was going on?  But it was too late now.  I had opened the door and Mike was not going to shut it now.  

We didn't even have a leash.  The pound gave us a make-shift leash and we went to the van with our new dog and three boys.  He got stuck under the seats of the van on the way home.  Mike ran to the store and bought the basics, dog food, a dog house, and a leash.  

I told Mike that I would not be stuck with taking care of a dog when I didn't even know the first thing about being a dog owner.  This dog was his responsibility, not mine.  He was more than happy to agree with the conditions.  The two things I said I would not do was pick up his dog poop and bathe him.  Having a puppy was interesting but thankfully Mike really did do the majority of the care of him.  He pooped in our house once, in Will's room and peeped few times.  He did not like his kennel or his dog house.  He wanted to be an indoor dog and Mike wanted him to be an outdoor dog.  One night in particular was sad.  We put him outside to sleep and put him in his doghouse.  For some reason Mike had him chained up as well, even though our yard was fenced.  The chain reached a large distance however.  I got up to feed Eli in the middle of the night and thought I heard some noises from the backyard.  I was surprised to hear that it was raining and hoped that the dog was in his dog house.  I went and told Mike I thought he should check on the dog so he got up and went to find the dog in the middle of the yard, his chain all stuck.  He has gotten all tangled and was caught in the middle of a downpour.  Mike checked the dog house and discovered it had huge leaks.  Our poor puppy was drenched.  We moved him in the house and he spent the remainder of the night whining in the kennel.  

Will had asked us if could could name Eli Diamond.  We told him no.  When our black fur ball came to our home we decided that we would let Will give him a name and he immediately choose Diamond.  We knew it was a girl name but that was the name Will wanted and so our new dog became known as Diamond.  

Diamond loved sitting under here out of the sun
Mike used to come home from work and promptly go to the back yard to play with Diamond.  The backdoor was directly across the room from the garage door so he would walk in from the garage and keep going straight out to the backyard.  I teased him that he loved the dog more than me because the first thing he would do when he got home was not to greet me and give me a kiss, but walk to the yard and greet Diamond and pet him and love on him.

It took me a little more time to love Diamond.  Mostly, I just viewed him as Mike's dog and being somewhat afraid of dogs, I was always a little timid around him.  I was always uncomfortable with is need to chew on things, hands included, and his licking.  My love came as I watched the way he interacted with the boys.  I quickly realized that we had found a pretty amazing dog.  His ability to accept the playful beatings of the boys was astounding.  Twice Isaac cut Diamond (once on his lip and once on his nose).  Both times Diamond just laid there, not even yelping.  I secretly wished that Diamond would respond by nipping Isaac and defending himself.  But I was so thankful that we had a dog that I knew I never had to worry about hurting my children.  It just wasn't a part of his personality to be rough or angry.

Diamond loved us, that much I knew.  Our fence in Oklahoma kept him in pretty well but one time we went out of town and when we came home our neighbor informed us that Diamond had dug a hole and squirmed under the fence but instead of running away he was just sitting on the front porch waiting for us to return.  In Ohio we didn't have a fence and the boys would let him out without me seeing and Diamond would wander out of the yard to go exploring.  Most of the time I'd find him rambling down the sidewalk, walking back to our house after his exploring was done.  Many time however he would be brought back by a neighbor and I was always embarrassed to be the house on the road with the escaping dog.  Everyone on the block knew Diamond and where he belonged. I spent many days lecturing the boys about not letting him out without me knowing--he had to be on a chain if he was to be outside.  I'd drive around the neighborhood worrying about our dog, Will would be crying in the backseat, "He was the best dog.  He can't be lost.  We have to find him."  Oh he drove me nuts.

Diamond had a hard time with our yard in Ohio.  We were not allowed to put up a real fence but could put in a chain linked fence, which we would have to take down when we moved 18 months later.  It was too expensive and too much work to seriously consider so Diamond ended up being an indoor dog.  We could not keep him chained up in the backyard for 18 months.  He was thrilled with that new arrangement.

His favorite place was snuggled in Mike's arm

He loved when we had a new baby and they would share their food with him.  Gross
Diamond wanted to be everywhere we were.  As long as he could be near us, he would be happy.  When my visiting teachers in Ohio would come to visit I'd chain him up outside.  The chain was long enough that he could reach the sliding glass door and he would spend the entire time licking the glass like a crazy dog and tried to bite the door.  It was so gross and he would cover the door with slobber.  He just could not stand to see that we were all inside the house without him.
Diamond loved people and anyone willing to pet him was his best friend.  When you would stop petting him he'd raise his paw at you as if to say, "More please."

He loved laying against the wall

We quickly discovered that Diamond had anxiety.  As long as we were home he was fine but if we left him alone he had major anxiety attacks.  He was a regular Houdini, prying the bars open on his kennel and squeezing out through the hole he made, and breaking his chain so he could escape the yard.  The chain and kennel we owned were designed to keep large dogs secure but somehow they were not strong enough for him.  We decided once to try and let him stay in the house while we left, thinking maybe he would feel more calm or comfortable if he was in his normal environment.  It turned out to be a huge mistake.  We came home to find the door jams chewed up and the curtains by the front door destroyed and a large puddle of drool by the front door.  We ended up taking him to the vet and getting some anxiety medicine.

He loved to be where the action was.  As long as he could be near us, he was happy

Diamond loved soft things.  I often found him cuddling with one of the boy's soft toys

Diamond had a special relationship with Laila.  The day we brought him home he kept jumping up to see her.  We lowered her down to his level and he just sniffed her and tried to lick her.  I would put her in the swing or bouncy seat and leave the room for a few minutes.  When I'd come back I'd find Diamond laying right next to her.  It was as if he knew what a special spirit she was from the very beginning.
When she died I often found him laying on the floor in her room, which was odd because previously her room was not a place he regularly went.  He usually just stayed in the family room or in the boy's room where he slept.  It was as if he knew that this was her room and that he could still feel her spirit there and wanted to be near her.
After Laila died we were all depressed obviously but it seemed as though Diamond also joined us in our sadness.  He seemed less interested in life and playing.  After awhile he seemed to become more happy and normal again but I remember asking a friend, "Is it possible for dogs to be depressed?"  It was very sad.
When Piper joined the family he did not have the same interest in her as Laila but he was always very careful near her.  He would often come and sniff her and then go on his way.  Piper loved Diamond from the start, her eyes always following his movements.  

As she became more mobile and active he would often look at me with questioning eyes, "Should I be worried?  Is she going to hurt me?"  After some reassurance from me he would always relax and let her play around him, never moving away or flinching when she would try to poke his eyes.  I would often say, "We don't poke eyes" and she learned how to be soft with him, initially hitting him but eventually learning how to pet instead of hit.

Steven walked him for us after I had my knee surgery
Piper would look around the house for him and when she found him she would sit against his belly and read her book or give him hugs.  I often found her liking him, her way of kissing.  She never seemed bothered by a mouthful of hair.

Lately I had been telling Mike that we needed to really try and be better dog-owners.  I told him he needed to be bathed more and walked more.  Both are things that were difficult for me.  Diamond was afraid of baths and so big that getting him to stay put during his bath was much too difficult for me.  Also, he was too big for the boys to walk because he is so strong that they couldn't control him on the leash.  And I've almost always had a baby in a stroller since we owned Diamond and it was really hard to push the stroller and walk Diamond.  I was feeling that we needed to really make more of an effort to walk him.  The last few weeks Diamond was getting a walk almost every day and loving it.  He was so happy with his walks!  One of our last memories with him was taking him on a walk on the path by our house.  He actually did very well staying with the boys and not trying to run off with them being drug behind him.

We went to Kentucky for Spring Break and left Diamond at a kennel. When I dropped him off I had such a sad feeling come over me.  I called Mike on the drive home and said, "I know it's silly but I just felt so sad when I handed the leash over to the worker.  What if he dies?"  We were both like, "That's silly.  He's not going to die while we are gone."  He was healthy and we had no reason to believe that something would happen to him.  I put my sad feeling aside and we left to Kentucky, sure that Diamond was happy and safe at the kennel.

On Tuesday morning I got a message on my phone from the kennel owner.  He just said to call him because he had some things to discuss about Diamond.  I knew right away that he was dead.  I hoped I was just being over dramatic and called the owner who immediately told me that Diamond had passed away during the night.  I burst into tears.  I had to inform the boys who also burst into tears.

I have had some friends lose dogs and I remember thinking, "It's just a dog.  Why are they this upset?"  And here I was sobbing my eyes out over my sweet, calm, patient dog.  I understood why my friends were so sad.  He wasn't just a dog.  He was a part of our family.  He has been a part of our family for more than half of our marriage.  He has essentially been a part of our family as long as Eli has.

While I didn't love him immediately like Mike and the boys did, I really did love him.  I never really got used to the dog smell he would leave in the boys room or the hair I'd find in our dinners but I grew to appreciate and love him.  I am so thankful for the way he would sleep in the boys room and only come out when the last of the boys woke up and left the room.  I appreciate how patient he was with each of our rambunctious children.  He endured poking, cutting, tail-pulling, etc. and never responded with anything but love.

I recognize that I really had no idea how to be a great dog owner.  I feel regret about the amount of times I'd forget his water was left outside in the frozen weather and he was left with a chunk of ice in his bowl or how long it would go between his baths or how after Laila died we didn't pay as much attention to him for awhile.  But I hope he knows and recognizes that the weeks before he died we were trying to be better.  I have no doubts he is happy in heaven, with a perpetually clean coat of fur, getting as many walks as he wants.

We love him and miss him.


Jason said...

I have had several dogs over the years and it is very difficult to let them go. They really are a part of your family. I always remind Michelle that Abby is her dog but the truth is that I really love that dang dog.
Diamond was a wonderful dog. You guys were lucky to have him.

Jess Clark said...

I love the picture of Diamond in the sand box with the boys.

Mike and Adrianne said...

Jess, I know! I saw that picture and busted up laughing. How in the world did they convince him to get in there with him? He just loved to be everywhere they were.

Mike and Adrianne said...

Jason, I actually thought of you all and Abby. It's sad. I think now I will be more sympathetic when you lose our dog. I never really understood the attachment between an owner and their dog before. I'm surprised I've been so sad. But really, he's been a part of our home almost as long as Eli has so I guess it's only natural to be sad about it.

Mike and Adrianne said...

I mean, when you lose your dog, not our dog.

Gillian Mohlman said...

Oh this post breaks my heart. I loved that big dog! He was the best dog in the world- I dont think he could ever be replaced.