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Monday, March 7, 2022

Blitz and Me: Life With a Sneaky, Hungry Dog

One thing you know or should know when you own a dog is that, sooner or later, they're going to break your heart. They aren't built to last as long as humans, so they leave this life before we do. We suffer that reality because of the loyalty and comradery we get in between. 

Blitz joined us in March 2007, nicknamed Chewy (after the Star Wars character) due to his occasional verbalizations. He was our third Lab, replacing Bert, who passed away at the end of 2006. I'd been around Labs my entire life and never had one live past the age of 12. I had no idea Blitz would wind up being the genetic champion of them all, living to the ripe old age of 15. 

Just because he lived a long life doesn't mean he was an ideal dog. In fact, Blitz was very often a bad dog. As a puppy, he was prone to mischief and destruction. If left unattended, he would chew up shoes, shred toiler paper rolls and otherwise dismantle almost anything that was left out and fit in his mouth. He had to be crated when left unattended until he was more than 2 years of age.

Later on, Blitz became a sneaky, stealthy and refined counter surfer. He swiped slices of pizza, hamburgers, pastries and all kinds of other things. In one instance, Laura had baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies. They were cooling on the counter when Blitz passed by. He somehow managed to gobble up all but one or two cookies from the sheet. 

Then there was the time we were having dinner out and he scoped out a bar of baking chocolate on the counter. There was nothing left but tiny flakes of wrapper when we returned. But Blitz suffered no ill-effects. Research suggested it would have taken 10 or more similar bars of the chocolate to do any harm. Iron gut on a large dog.

A lot of Blitz' missteps were surely driven by food. He was always hungry, even when he had just been fed. There was something in his DNA that commanded him to eat and then eat some more. It's quite possible he lived as long as he did because he was driven to eat and hadn't yet eaten enough. 

One of the most disastrous Blitz events occurred in 2008. We were on a ski weekend in Sunriver. Blitz convinced me he needed to go outside at 1:00 a.m. His much older stablemate, Bruno, followed. They did not return. We then spent the early morning hours hunting for them, without success. Eventually, they turned up at the condo. Blitz had led Bruno on a marauding spree, hunting for garbage. Later that morning, on short sleep, Laura tore an ACL on the mountain.

With Biscuit, 2010
Years later, we had another trip to Sunriver planned. The night before we were to leave, Blitz disappeared on our walk in Rose City Park. That wasn't unusual. He often ran away to chase coyotes or go for a swim in the water hazard at Rose City Golf Course. He also frequented nearby homeless camps looking for food. Normally, he would come back or I would corral him. Not this time. He finally turned up 18 hours later, seeking shelter from a passing thunderstorm in a garage more than a mile from the park. How he made it there we didn't want to know. We picked him up.

After that little excursion, Blitz was leashed on his evening walks so he couldn't run away. It wasn't until he turned 13 and no longer had the ability to get away that I let him off leash during those outings. He could still get around just fine at that point, just didn't have the footspeed needed to easily escape. 

Bunk and Blitz, 2020
Blitz wasn't the most athletic Lab we've had, but he was undoubtedly the healthiest. He rarely had physical issues and his trips to the vet were sporadic and routine. Even in his old age, he continued to demand regular walks and ate his meals enthusiastically. People often asked what we were doing to enhance his longevity. Nothing. Blitz got the same treatment as all the other dogs. He simply had better genetic luck.

He was also pretty lucky when it came to stablemates. The first was Bruno, a kind and patient boy Blitz knew during the first two years of his life. Bruno tolerated Blitz, that's about it. Then came Biscuit, Blitz' younger sister. Despite occasional spats, they got along well during her 10 years. Finally, Bunk showed up not long after Blitz turned 13. He never liked crazy Bunk, although she liked and leaned on him. 

Young Blitz with Bruno, 2007

Blitz passed away last week. His decline was slow and long, and we knew he was nearing the end. We miss him dearly, even though caring for him had become arduous. Frankly speaking, I never had the kind of relationship with Blitz that I had with Biscuit. She wantonly hung out with me constantly. Blitz was always aloof and cool to close contact. But he was a good boy in his own way.

Godspeed, sweet boy. You will be missed by many. 💔

1 comment:

  1. My wife and I are also lovers of the Lab breed and have had 3 dogs in our life since 2001. Chase, Kilkee and Shelby. Each was uniquely different in personality and habits. Sadly, only Shelby lived to “old age” @13+ years. Chase developed Hemolytic Anemia at age 6 and passed with 3 days of diagnosis. Kilkee made it to 8 years but passed from a cancerous tumor. While there are many, many stories both good and bad….One involved Chase….I had a Monday off, and was cleaning the boat on the street from a crabbing trip. Chase was lazing about watching from the front yard. I suddenly decided to take the boat to a “self wash” and spray the entire boat down. Upon return, i realized I had forgotten about Chase (who was a momma’s boy)..sure enough, he was gone…..In a panic I dropped the boat and began scouring the neighborhood looking for him…thinking all along how my wife was going to murder me…..5 minutes in, my phone rings, and it’s my wife…..I answer….”Yes?” She says “are you looking for Chase?” Uhh…..maybe? Turns out Chase passes our Vet on his evening walks……so he decided to go there…..and they called my wife. ugh…..busted! Anyway, I feel your pain…..This was a great tribute to Blitz, and dogs in general!


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