TRIBUTE TO A FRIEND
On February 8th of 1997 I wrote this Tribute out of the need to express myself. I mailed it to friends who had sent me cards of sympathy, and to special dog friends who would understand. In June of 1998 I updated it with more photos. I completed moving this page from AOL to Homestead in January of 2005.
I never got around to having a really good portrait made of Dillon and I have been sorry about that. Dillon left me with a great sense of loss and yet sweet memories of a deep and abiding unconditional love. He was an exceptional Boxer and friend. It is a tribute to Dillon that as yet I have not been able to bring another dog into my life nor into my heart.
I am grateful to have friends that care; both old and new friends that understand how a good dog can wrap your heart right around him. It has helped me to put my feelings and memories of Dillon into written words and I decided to share this tribute with you. Thank you for your friendship.
It's easy to take a dog for granted when he's behind you every minute, getting his nose between you and what you are trying to do. There were times I asked myself what in the world I was doing with such a big energetic dog. Never had I owned or met a dog with such a love for living. Everything he did, he did with absolute happiness and dedication to do it the way an honest Boxer should.
We'd follow our daily schedule, he would go outside and make his rounds, then come back in to lay on the hardwood floor in the sunshine and watch me have my coffee. Without fail he would get up and come to me, climbing into my lap to get his morning hug and have his head and neck scratched before my second cup of coffee. Then, as I started getting dressed he would hurry me along by bringing me my shoes and dropping them in front of me as I sat on the bed, pulling on my socks. "I've got to put my sockies on first Dillon, before I put my shoesies on." He'd look at me, cocking his head to one side, for all the world understanding exactly what I was saying, and would grab a sock and shove it at me as if saying "Well then, here, hurry up!" When it was winter he learned to bring me my boots instead, and would drop them on the floor in front of me with a big thump, that Boxer grin on his face as he watched me laugh at him. He would drive me nuts, herding me around the apt. as I got ready to take him out.
We went for two to three walks a day. More than that in nice weather. Every time a man approached he would put his body between us, stand close to me, and watch the man, studying him. Usually the man would cross to the other side of the street, and Dillon would strut on, having proved his point. He took care of me as much as I took care of him.
I have to smile when I remember a month ago when I was shoveling snow, while Dillon was running around playing. Then he got cold, and was ready to go inside. After watching me for a moment he simply walked up, grabbed the shovel, and drug me towards the front door. "Okay, okay, you big lug, it's obviously time to go in!" On the coldest days and nights I would put his red sweater on him, and he would patiently stand there and wait, his feet slipping on the linoleum floor, until I had all four of his boots on him. The neighbors loved to watch him prance like a Clydesdale when he was wearing those boots. I did my best to stifle my laughter, because if I laughed he would start acting crazy, and run circles around me instead of doing his job. It's hard to believe that just two weeks ago I was spooning Pepto Bismol down his throat, grinning at his pink Boxer lips and the horrid face he made.
I can't concentrate on work today, and don't have the energy it seems to even concentrate on other interests. I realized last night as I drove home from night class that there was no reason to drive fast. Dillon was not going to greet me at the door, holding my shoe, telling me he wanted to go out. There would be no pestering me to hurry up with dinner, and no big Boxer hugs afterwards. My 70 pound dog would not be trying to be a 5 pound lap dog that night. I was alone again. In everything that I do, everywhere I turn, I miss my Dillon. I miss his hearty snoring as he lay on his back, his legs and big paws moving as he dreampt of an elusive bunny or squirrel. I miss the sound of his paws on the hardwood floors as he walked to the doors and listened at night, doing his duty.
My alarm clock wakes me now, and I lie there for a time before I get up, tears coming easily, as I remember his timeliness in getting me up in the morning. If his Boxer stare and one heavy sigh didn't work, he would put his heavy head on the bed close to my head, and snort. With that failing his big old paw would land on my shoulder, or my face. When I would start laughing at his antics his whole body would wind up on top of me. He'd grab my ear with his teeth ever so gently, and then cover me with that big wet tongue of his. He loved it when I laughed; he became a clown.
I moved his beds and crate to the garage yesterday, and today I moved his toybox. He knew every stuffed animal by name, and when I asked him for one he would simply throw a big paw on the box and it would go flying into the air, toys falling everywhere. He would watch my reaction, then he would proudly pick up the toy I had named, and bring it to me. I know he knew what I wanted him to do, but he never got to the point where he would put the toys that were scattered everywhere back into the box. He was too smart for that.
He's not lying across the doorway to the bathroom watching me put on make-up and do my hair for work. His chair with generations of Boxer nail marks is still by my bedroom windows. I had placed it there when we had moved into the apt., so that he could sit and look outside, watching people, and rabbits and squirrels. I would often walk up behind him when he was sitting on his chair, put my arms around him, and talk to him as he watched a squirrel or a dog. His big Boxer heart would beat faster, I could feel it against me. Then he would look into my eyes and give me a gentle lick. When I undressed at night after getting home from work he would sit on his chair and then offer me a paw. It was his "high five" and I always rewarded it with a good scratch on his big old head, neck, and ribs. Never getting enough of it, he would continue to give me a high five until I walked out of the bedroom with him hot on my heels. I haven't moved the chair.
Sometimes on a weekend I would give in to temptation and would call for pizza. "Pizza Dilly - we're gonna have Pizza!" Then I'd open the door and let him watch for the pizza man. When the delivery was late he'd start pacing the floor, looking at me as though I had to do something about it. They'd get to the door, and he'd have his front paws on the glass, and be looking at them eye to eye. He'd greet them, never with a bark, just by shoving his big old head at them. Alot of people have backed off when being greeted at the door by Dillon. The Pizza delivery boys grew to know Dillon though and looked forward to seeing him.
He always got the last bite of whatever I was eating. I noticed last night that I had automatically left some oatmeal in my bowl, and had left the last bite of toast. My buddy wasn't there to get it though. There is still a plastic milk carton outside on the hill of snow by the door. I had thrown it there after he had found it on a recent walk, and played hockey with it all the way home, pushing it with his nose or hitting it with his paws. That was one of his favorite things to play with. I haven't the heart to throw it away just yet.
I couldn't watch him hurt anymore. He stared into my eyes, looking for help, expecting me to do something about his pain and I had always promised that I would never let him hurt. As much as I wanted him with me forever, it wasn't to be. Early on Friday morning, January 31st, after watching him pacing, not sleeping for two nights, I took him to the emergency clinic. He sat with his back against me, facing the door as the vet came in. He never flinched. Just as he hadn't flinched days earlier when my vet had put a needle into the tumor on his back twice. He was stoic, and a courageous dog, fearing neither death nor the devil. Dillon had more energy and love of life than I have ever seen in any other living thing. My heart seemed to burst as I glanced at the needle, then I talked to him, pet him, held him, and told him it would be all right, and that I loved him. I watched the stiffness in his body and the hunch in his back relax as the pain left him, and he slipped away. His big Boxer heart stopped, and he was gone.
I lay there and watched him, stroking his graying muzzle, and running my hand over his silky red-brindle coat one last time. His tongue...that extraordinary long tongue of his, relaxed and the tip of it peered out, reminding me of the many times he had held his head close to mine, and slowly and carefully reached out with that tongue to flick the tip of it once on my cheek or ear. He knew that always made me laugh, and hug him. He brought me so much happiness in his own very special way.
Now I wake up in the middle of the night, feeling insecure and lost. Although I have thought that I heard him, his snoring isn't there, nor is the sound of his big paws hitting the floor as he checks the doors. Still, I feel him close. He will always be a part of me, and I will always hold these warm happy memories of my Dillon in my heart.
A friend printed this page out and gave it to a person that means a lot to me. He in turn, with great kindness and feeling, let me know as only he could that he understood my loss. Knowing that a person went out of their way to let you know they understand and feel for you takes some of the sadness from your heart and gives encouragement.
On the day I had planned to remove this page I received two e-mails from strangers who had read this tribute. They were not the first strangers to write to me about my story of Dillon. They are strangers no longer for we share that special love of the Breed, and the love and appreciation for the wonderful individuals that we are blessed with in our lives. They told me of their own losses, and how my story of Dillon had reminded them of their Boxer. While reading this tribute they were finally able to let out their grief. If in some way Dillon and I have helped another to come to terms with their loss, or made it a little bit easier to cope with I am grateful.
Towards the end of 2004 I received an e-mail from a nice woman who had found my page for Dillon on AOL and read it. She contacted me and wrote a very nice letter which touched me. Following that initial letter she has written several times and included photos which I enjoy so much. She has a Boxer puppy, and named him 'Dillon' after my own Dillon.
Today I found an Austin website for rescued Boxers, and I think that maybe after I have my knee surgery I am going to offer a home to some old gentleman that needs some loving and attention. It would be good to wrap my arms around a big old Boxer neck again. It won't be my Dillon, but life is too short to go thru it without a four footed friend.
June 8th, 2009, I decided to add a Guestbook, for the heck of it. Feel free to leave your thoughts. Thank you for looking at my page. May you be blessed with the same kind of friend I had in Dillon.