Monday, May 22, 2006

Wolfgang Amadeus arrived unexpectedly in our lives, a rescue from a puppy mill, at least seven years old, starved, diseased, frightened, but with a will and joy for living unmatched in any dog we’ve had before or since. Everyone who met him marveled that he was “the best dog in the entire world.”

Wolfie came into a home with an aging Schnauzer who had been diagnosed with canine cognitive dysfunction, along with going blind and deaf and with congestive heart failure. He immediately made Milly, our very first dog, his cause in life and dedicated himself to caring for her. Outside he would guide her to her favorite trees or the smelliest grass in which to roll. When she couldn’t find her way back to the house, he would nudge her along until she could find a doorway to enter. He kept her alive for an extra 18 months and we were eternally grateful to him.

Milly didn’t play with toys much. She had no interest in anything other than food and going for rides in the car, so when Wolfie came we didn’t have dog toys around the house.

After Wolfie had been doctored and fed well and was secure in our love, he began to exhibit odd behavior. When we left him alone in the house with only Milly for companionship, he would tear up any paper he could find. One day I found him tearing around the bathroom, toilet paper and magazines shredded into tiny pieces and he ran in wild, tight circles creating a snowstorm of paper all around him. It was then it occurred to me that Wolfie needed toys. We bought out the store, of course, because such a dog deserved only the best and Wolf’s favorite toy became “bite the man.” Whenever Wolf entered the house, after greeting his humans, he would run to give “bite” a ritual greeting, shaking him and tossing him into the air.

Wolf never hunted but he loved the chase. Once he actually caught a bunny in our yard that had the misfortune to run past just as we let Wolf out the door. He looked with astonishment at the bunny in his mouth and very gently set the bunny down, who, terrified, took off like a “jackrabbit.” Wolfie did, however, destroy scores of “bite the men” during his lifetime and would chastise us with evil looks when we would finally toss away a gutted, but still beloved toy.

Wolf shared our lives for twelve precious years and though other Schnauzers have come into our lives, none has ever replaced “the best dog in the world.” His last “bite the man” sits atop our computer, along with his ashes and his collar, waiting . . .

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