Notah’s old dog Huck finally had to be euthanized. I felt really sorry for Notah, having to make that decision. He had Huck for a lot of years, ever since his second year in college.
Actually Notah didn’t decide to adopt Huckleberry. Huck decided he was Notah’s dog. Or maybe it was that Notah was his man. One way or another they connected.
I acquired Huckleberry when I was director at the daycare. The United Way Director’s assistant was conducting a fundraising activity at the Coshocton McDonalds and there was this Dalmatian dog running around the parking lot trying to get in people’s cars. The employees said it had been there for several days and they were going to call the dog warden. The United Way lady couldn’t let that happen so she loaded it up and brought it back with her.
Well, what were they going to do with a DOG in the United Way offices? So their solution was to bring it over to DAY CARE! Oh yeah. That works. A stray dog with no indication of shots or temperament in a DAY CARE! But then, there’s Vondi who couldn’t let a lost dog go to the pound.
The spotted dog had to stay in my office, but he seemed okay. The kids kept sticking their heads in to look at him. Different people came through and saw him. One mother even decided to take him home. She said her landlord had told her she could have a small dog. Well, who in the world EVER called a dalmatian small? In about an hour she brought him back saying her landlord had said he was too big. Who would have guessed?
By that time I was regretting having let her take him because Notah had been talking about wanting a dog of his own in Columbus. This was a pretty dog, quiet, friendly and perfect. I believe that was a Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving. By quitting time that afternoon, I had named the dog Huckleberry because his spots were so dark blue they were the color of ‘huckleberries.’ I guess I could have called him ‘blueberry’ but Huckleberry seemed to fit better. Maybe because of the kids’ cartoon “Huckleberry Hound.” But he wasn’t ‘Huckleberry Hound.” He was just Huckleberry. Huck went home with me to see if Notah would like him. I have no idea what I planned to do with him if Notah didn’t want him.
Fortunately, Notah had nothing to say about it. Within an hour of meeting Notah, Huckleberry decided that Notah was going to be his Master. If Notah got up from the couch to go after a cup of coffee or get a drink of water Huckleberry went with him. If Notah went up stairs to the bathroom, Huck went with him. If Notah napped on the couch, Huck was beside him. It was a done deal. Huck was Notah’s dog.
The only bad thing about Huck was that he wasn’t real fond of little kids. He would bite them if they didn’t heed his warning grumble. How it was that he didn’t bite a pre-schooler during that afternoon at day care was only due to the grace of God. He left marks on a couple little kids in the years after.
He had a bit of wander-lust, too, at first. Once he ducked out the door when someone was delivering pizza or soliciting or something like that. He was gone for quite a while. Notah searched and put up flyers. I think maybe he even put an ad in the newspaper. After a couple weeks he got a call from someone who thought they might have his dog. Sure enough, when Notah got there it was Huck. Everybody thinks dalmatians are like the cartoon dogs in 101 Dalmatians, but they aren't. The guy who had him also had a little girl. I’ve always thought the only reason the guy called Notah was because Huckleberry was grumbling at the little girl and she was scared of him. Thank the Lord he didn’t bite her.
After that, Huck stayed home.
When Notah and Kerra began dating the first thought in my head was danger to the kids. Keva was about 4 or 5 and Seth was under two. As it turned out, there was no big problem. When the Seth was little Notah watched Huck closely. Later he learned just like Keva did that if Huck growled it meant, “Leave me alone. I don’t want to play.”
Huck never did get over being snappy, but he would have died before someone could have hurt his kids.
After Notah and Kerra were married, Huckleberry slept with the kids every night. He was the first dog Seth could remember. He had no complaints at all about adding Kerra and the kids to his list of Important People. One of Notah’s favorite games with the kids was to use a marker and make an extra spot on Huck then challenge Seth and Keva to find it. They seemed to enjoy it as much as Notah did.
Huck was a comfort lover. He liked warm soft sofas. He liked soft beds with warm bodies in them. He liked snuggling with someone on the sofa. And he grumped when his comfort was disturbed. He definitely liked his food dish when it was filled. He enjoyed hiking in the desert with his people. He never got bitten by a rattlesnake or smacked by a porcupine, but he did step on a few prickly pear thorns and goats’ heads were his curse. He was always stepping on them and either chewing them out himself or waiting while Notah pulled them out. His black and white coat always seemed to be clean, even when he was out in the dirt. He disliked snow and rain. Notah used to tease him about his spots fading and running.
Notah used to tell about camping once when there was some large animal outside the tent. He thought perhaps it was a bear since they were camping down on ‘Pop’s Farm’ in Guernsey County. That’s pretty wild country. Notah and his friend both heard what ever it was making noise and brushing against the tent. They opened the door of the tent to go see. They went out, but Huckleberry stayed inside. You see, it was raining and Huck couldn’t risk his spots blurring. They never did figure out what was outside. It took off when the flashlights came on.
For several years, Huckleberry had cysts in his lungs. The vet who diagnosed him said there wasn’t much that could be done to fix it and Notah decided to keep him as long as he wasn’t in too much distress.
For the last year or so, he was gradually getting worse. I thought it was complicated with some congestive heart failure. Finally, he wasn’t able to breathe or rest comfortably. Notah made the decision to euthanize him on.
He was a good dog. He left an empty place in my heart when he left. The one in Notah’s must be bigger.