I enter 2017 without my companion of the last 10 and a half years. Although like all children, she had some difficult moments and caused me more heartache and trouble than my human child, she also gave me daily joy and constant fun and challenges. Patton was the smartest dog I have ever known and for those who are used to Dobies that is saying a great deal. She was also a great prankster. She would intentionally throw her ball under the couch so that we would have to crawl on hands and knees to retrieve it. She would hide her tennis ball on the inside of the refrigerator door and then bark at the door several hours later to confuse me as to whether she wanted food or had grown a little nutsy – and there would be the ball! She would find a myriad of places to create a similar game with any variety of toys – hiding the ball behind the toilet, under the tree skirt, or wherever her imagination could find.
Lady Patton was her official name, although depending on who called her, she was also known as Petunia, Patty, Patemski, and Funny Face. She guarded the house and her special peeps constantly. If an ant crawled a half a mile away, she would bark at it. When I went into the fenced in patio to get firewood she would insist on going with me. A local policeman once told me that there were few crimes on our block due to her barking at any given time. (She did miss one time when a car was stolen from our driveway – although I might have slept through her barking due to being immune at that point to her warnings.) She eviscerated every stuffed toy within 30 minutes but never swallowed the squeaky piece from inside. Her idea of heaven was a tennis ball upon which she would chew for hours – when she wasn’t making you throw it or retrieve it from under the furniture. When she loved you, you could put your entire fist down her throat with no problem. Not so much if she didn’t adore you. She would meet her friends at the door with her entire backside – and the stubby tail – wagging at full force. If you weren’t her friend, she met you with teeth bared and barking and growling.
Patton, who had always had a very healthy appetite, suddenly stopped eating and when she went to the vet it was determined that she had developed diabetes. We started an insulin program that always requires eating a meal to give the shot. After quitting eating her kibbles, the only way to get her to eat was to make fresh food for her. So I became a daily chef – chicken, salmon, beef, pork tenderloin, broccoli, rice, and even oatmeal. Occasionally we would bring her a treat from a dinner out. But the treatment didn’t take and she just quit eating and drinking water and then she looked at me and told me it was her time. We honored that request and took her to her vet who had loved her from the very beginning.
Del Ray Animal Hospital is owned and run by Dianne Ferris. Many years ago she fell in love with my first Dobie, Balthazaar. Ever since, she and her husband have had Dobies of their own. The two of them were with us as Patton moved into the next world. All four of us were crying at the same time as well as telling humorous tales of our beloved babies. Dianne even asked the question, “Why is it so hard to get Dobermans to make it to eleven years old?” I didn’t have an answer then, but I have a theory now. As Patton’s soul went to heaven, her beautiful body still lay in front of us. A glistening black and brown coat, agile body, and just a tiny touch of grey hair under the chin looked as if she was sleeping. Patton didn’t want us to have a memory of her as anything but the beautiful Doberman who grew up with us, and my guess is that perhaps that is part of the breed!
We’ve all had pets and we know that they will most likely leave us before we leave them – unless you have the very long-lived birds. It doesn’t ever seem to get easier, however, to lose them. Luckily we have our memory and photographs to help us through the grieving process.
I will always have Lady Patton in my heart and on my wall. I am convinced she is currently running through heaven chasing squirrels and enjoying the wind in her face and the grass under her toes with her uncropped ears flapping in the breeze. I am also certain God will make sure that none of those squirrels will ever be caught by her jaws.
RIP my gorgeous girl.