Every once in a while, you meet a being that is a walking embodiment of love. These beings touch your heart at a deep level and change your outlook on life for the good, for good. Get really lucky, and they are also crazy goofballs that keep you laughing. We need to know their stories – we need more heart-filled goofballs in our world.
Dexter is one of those souls that needs to have his story told. After all of the laughter and tears shared over the years, it is only fitting that he have some sort of eulogy, some sort of testament to his life.
So, let us begin…. At the end. I don’t know why we can’t write these things while our loved one is still alive. Perhaps we are too busy enjoying the ride to reflect on the joy we are experiencing. Or too scared that we will lose it if we turn our heads just for a moment. We hold on too tight. I held on too tight.
Be that as it may, we have to begin somewhere now. If I had to write an obituary for Dexter, it would go something like this:
C.K. Dexter Haven
October 15, 2008 – January 23, 2015
C.K. Dexter Haven, also known as “Dexter,” “Dex,” “Moob,” and “Boo-Boo,” passed away suddenly at the age of 7. Filled with life, he overcame obstacle after obstacle through sheer will – all while maintaining a gentle heart. We are beyond grateful that he stayed with us as long as he did.
I got Dexter in the winter of 2007. We’d had our Black Lab Zeta for a few years. As a life-long cat person, Zeta had been the first dog I had lived with. Turned out, I was a dog person! I loved the companionship and fun that having a dog provided. Only problem was that Zeta was absolutely, positively my husband’s dog. She went followed him everywhere. She’d wait by the door for him every day, and if he were out of town on business she’d sit by the door all night. Just completely abandoned me. J
So I decided I wanted a dog of my own. I was very specific: I wanted a ChocLab. Every Chocolate Lab I saw was just beautiful. The rich color, the light brown eyes, the sweet, friendly Lab disposition. Plus, a Lab is really the perfect puppy. What’s the first image you think of when someone says, “Puppy?” A Lab, of course! So we searched, and eventually found a home breeder with a litter of puppies. They were young yet, but they were ready to have people come and find their new friend.
My method of picking a puppy was probably flawed. I knew I wanted a boy, but beyond that I had few criteria. Basically, I figured that the first one that came up to me was my dog. I trusted the Universe to provide me the dog I needed. So off we went to deep SE Portland one night, to meet a littler of 5-week old puppies. We arrived and were taken into the garage to have a look. I felt a mixture of panic and excitement – like a blind date!
I ask you, is there anything cuter than a pile of puppies? Perhaps a romp of otter pups, but just by a nose. (BTW – I had to look up the phrase for a group of otters. I love that it’s called a “Romp!”)
But back to the pen full of ChocoPups. Sure enough, very quickly a cute little boy puppy came up to the side, jumped on his back legs and reached up to inspect me. There’s my boy!
I had selected a name prior to even meeting the dog. Named after the Cary Grant character in Philadelphia Story, he was to be called C. K. Dexter Haven (Anderson) – or more directly, Dexter. This was before the television show came on – or at least before I was aware of it. I had to explain many times that he was not named after a serial killer but rather a dashing hero.
At any rate, this was the highly scientific way that I met the love of my animal-mommy life.
The puppies were still a few weeks shy of going home, and so I visited the family multiple times while (very impatiently) waiting for the go-ahead. After initially coming up to inspect me, he was not terribly interested in me, but I knew he’d come around. J I like to think that he knew he was “taken” and felt secure that his new mommy was hanging around. Whatever the case, he was much more interested in the two little girls that lived in the house. I took no offense.
The day before I took him home, I visited his birth home and gave him his first bath. It was a bonding experience. He did NOT like it one bit, but he made it through. Later on, he’d be such a good boy about bath time. All I had to do was come downstairs in my bathing suit and say, “Dex, let’s go!” and he’d amble up the stairs and walk straight into the shower. Then he’d change his mind and want to walk right back out. So I’d have to tether him to actually keep him in the shower, but there was never any real wrangling to be done.
Eventually – and one week early – the family decided he was ready to go. I was so excited!! I don’t remember a lot about bringing him home, but I do have one very specific memory. We hadn’t seen much of Dexter’s parents before we took him home. If either of them were around, I certainly took no notice. All of my focus was on Dexter. I guess we hadn’t even asked about them, really. So it was something of a shock when we looked out the back window and saw two GIGANTIC Labs peering over a fence. Peering over a FENCE.
“Hmmm……” we thought as we drove home.