Alex

12 05 2006

I have never really liked dogs.

I don’t know. Too needy, maybe? The licking themselves thing?

Back in the early 90’s, when I had come back from college to work on the ranch and stay with my ailing Grandma, I was also dating Phil. Phil was a horrid person and I think the only reason I was with him was the convenience (lived just a ranch over) and loneliness. This is a really bad idea.

Phil was an avid collector of guns (red flag), owned a wolf dog (red flag) and was sorta small (sorry, but another red flag. Napoleon and all that?). He was very jealous of my bartending job and would give me the third degree whenever I would come home at 3 am……..which is something bartenders do because of their work hours, and all.

Near the end of our relationship I really wanted out, but was a bit scared on exactly how to go about it. I was young. The dog in one of the ranch houses where he lived had just had puppies and would occasionally sneak over to eat the food in Buck’s (the wolf dog’s bowl). She was nursing and hungry…..and Buck kinda liked her.

Phil shot her.

He just shot this mamma dog with 6 baby puppies and I saw it happen. He was going to shoot the puppies too, but I ran in front of the gun (cause as you all know, I am bulletproof), scooped up the puppies, threw them in the front of my truck and drove home.

My Dad was not the kind of guy that really enjoyed having 6 puppies added to the menagerie, and I definitely was not going to tell him how I got them, so I hid them in an old barn. I became their secret Mom. Sneaking down between all my other work to make sure they were getting enough milk and to start to wean them onto food. And sadly to say, I did not take the advantage of this opportune time to leave Phil. I just didn’t talk to him for awhile.

The puppies and I were eventually found out.

My Dad asked no questions. He just sighed and said, “Well…..which one do you want to keep? We need a good cow dog around here.”

I chose Alex.

The other pups, when they were ready, went to neighboring ranches that needed a dog. They were great cow dogs. Total mutts of course, but you could see possibly some Border Collie and Blue Heeler somewhere in there.

Alex and I went everywhere together. I irrigated the fields, which meant checking my dams every few hours throughout the day by motorcycle. When he was small, he would ride in between my legs. And when he got bigger, my dad built a little platform on the back rack of the motorcycle for him to ride on. He would either stand or sit on this – and with amazing balance, fly down the back roads of the ranch with the wind in his ears.

There were a few accidents. Totally my fault, but trust me…..He just jumped and landed on his feet. I was the one left dusting myself off and picking up the bike. After one of these, dad found an old scrap of Shag carpeting and nailed it to the platform for traction. It was hysterical, but no one really thought anything of it. It’s just what he did.

He inspired a whole ranch full of motorcycle riding dogs……Putzy and Irish were fans of the road, too.

When I left for Seattle he stayed behind. You can’t bring a motorcycle riding ranch dog to the city. And as the dogs and my Dad got older it became such a routine – that motorcycle ride once a day – that if Dad was too busy during the day he would be sure to take them for a ride after dinner.

How cute is that?

Anyway….back to the Phil thing. After a particularly bad night of “after bartending interrogation” I swore to him that I would leave him. I came to get my stuff and he had this little kitten and an apology for me. A few days later, I came home from the bar to find that Phil had thrown the kitten up against the wall and killed it because he was mad at me and my late nights again.

And FINALLY I left him. Sadly, I see now that I valued that little kitten’s life over my own. I was willing to let him treat me horribly, but a kitten? No way. I am thankful for that kitten to this day. Otherwise, who knows what would have happened to me and my insanely degraded sense of self?

The day I left, I was soooo scared. Alex followed me everywhere. He knew something was really wrong. Anytime I stopped, he would sit on my feet. All day long. Everytime he did it, I cried.

Even after I left for Seattle, on my visits back he would be so excited to see me and the moment I sat down or stopped moving, there he would be – sitting on my feet.

Alex died Tuesday.

He was 14 years old. He had rapidly declined and my Mom took him to the vet. His kidneys weren’t working and he was in a lot of pain. Instead of have him put down there, my Mom asked the vets to come out to the ranch so he wouldn’t be scared. That night, she let him sleep in the house – even so much as at the foot of her bed. He must have been thrilled.

She made a little table covered in blankets out in the garage. When the vet came, she had him on the table, patting, scratching and talking in his ear. She said he didn’t feel the needle and he went to sleep so rapidly and peacefully that she was amazed.

This picture has hung somewhere in my house – wherever that happened to be – since I left Montana. Him, on our motorcyle.

He was a good dog.

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13 responses

12 05 2006
Fredrick Schwartz

How cool is that! The whole story made my boss a hard edged newspaper editor, AND, a demon cover his eyes weeping.

May you have long and happy life! May You, my dear suffer not!

Fredrick Schwartz
Managing Editor, Research
The Dis Brimstone-Daily Pitchfork

12 05 2006
anika

That’s sad, Shari. I like Alex. And every story that has your dad in it makes me love him more and more.

12 05 2006
Omnibus Driver

I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope it’s some consolation to know that he’s waiting for you just over the Rainbow Bridge:

http://www.rainbowbridge.com/Poem.htm

12 05 2006
Nikol

That’s such a great story! I’m sorry Alex is gone, but you have wonderful memories!

P.S. I hate Phil.

12 05 2006
Pain

You,

have . . .

ice?????!!!!!

May you suffer not!

Pain
Knight Slayer of Shai’ tan
Majordomo of Hell and Terra
Order of the Black Rose of the Empire
Fair Judge Executioner of Souls
Keeper of the Keys of all the Gates of Hell
Chamberlain Imperial of the Necropontiff
Marquis di Gehenna
Emperor Consort
White Rod
President Pro tempore Bax Culdnu

12 05 2006
Big Brudda

Shari
Sorry I didn’t call. Mom didn’t want to bother you during work. He was buried with full honors. You should know that i tried to leave him home all winter when working cattle, but some how he new and would drag his arthritic old body the mile down to the corrals and work ’til we were done, just to get his ride home on my bike.

12 05 2006
rennratt

Good Boy, Alex. Rest in Peace.

13 05 2006
Ant

Don’t be sad for him – he’s riding around on the eternal motorbike now, with straight roads and shag-pile carpeting aplenty…

(And that picture is just too cute!)

13 05 2006
Christine

Aww that’s the sweetest.

I’m so sorry Shari, but I can’t imagine many dogs have had a better experience than Alex, the motorbike riding super dog. And I hope you can at least be secure in that.

And Phil. Grrr.

14 05 2006
Olivia

Shari, Alex’s story made me cry, in the good way. Not to mention the poor little kitten.

15 05 2006
the lorider

booooo-hoooooo! I was hoping for a minute this was a creative writing exercise 😦 what a great story, though, thanks for sharing it

15 05 2006
Kingfisher

Oh, I am so sorry. I recently wrote about the death of our loving dog, George.

Alex was watching out for you, and still is.

And Phil deserves to be thrown against the wall and shot. Glad you got away, it would have been you eventually.

I wish people were as good as Alex and George.

16 05 2006
Squishi

I hate Phool.

Alex was cute. %:D

You should have seriously considered turning the gun on Phool to see how HE liked it.

Maybe.

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