Monday, May 7, 2012

Ranger's Last Walk

 When I was 21 years old, my Mom and Dad made an impulse buy.  He was a pure bred black lab puppy--purchased while we were in Walla Walla for a Bible conference.  I remember seeing him for the first time--the cutest little black puppy with humongous feet--and asking whose dog my Mom was walking--and being shocked beyond belief when she said "ours!".  He was registered as Range Rover (Last Name).  And boy was he cute, full of energy and very, very naughty.  He ruined many a landscaping feature in Mom and Dad's yard.  He dug up sprinkler heads and ran water bills up into the thousands of dollars.  He dug under the house to wreak more havoc on the plumbing.  You remember the famous dog "Marley"?  He and Ranger would have had a grand old time together!
 Ranger was purchased just three months before I got married.  Planning a wedding and training a puppy at the same time had to have been a nightmare for my parents--but that was my fault, not the dog's.  They didn't know when they bought him that three months later they'd be putting on a wedding.  My Mom and I walked off some stress every evening with the energetic puppy.  I always struggled with putting his training chain on correctly.  One particular evening my Mom was unable to come with me.  I put the chain on (incorrectly) and ran off into the sunset.  About a mile away from home, Ranger realized that he could get out of his chain and tried to dart off into traffic.  I dove on top of him, not knowing what else to do.  There we lay, he sprawled on his stomach with all four legs splayed out.  Me, sprawled on my stomach, on top of him, with my legs wrapped around him, my hands frantically trying to get the chain on correctly...right on the white line of a 40 mph road traveled by a lot of people who knew me.  I remember thinking, "I might die here, either from a car running me over or from embarrassment."
 Ranger almost met his death later that summer when he broke down his gate in the laundry room, wandered upstairs, broke open a can of fish food and started spreading it all around where my wedding supplies were stored outside my bedroom door.  I heard the noise and went out to investigate.  I screamed as I saw scattered fish food and my bridal veil.  Thankfully, my Mom woke up and came out to save Ranger and my veil and calm me down.  Ranger was kenneled the weekend of my wedding, saving himself and my parents a lot of grief. 
Labs are natural swimmers--born with webbed feet.  One of Ranger's favorite puppy activities was going to the beach (the very same beach Tadd proposed to me on later that summer) to fetch sticks out in the water.  He would have fetched himself to death out in the water--literally.  There were times he was hardly breathing from exertion and my Dad still had to drag him away.
 Ranger and I did not share a house for long.  He was more my brothers' dog than mine.  Jeffrey was only 10 and Brett 14 when they got Ranger.  They had the most fun running around the back yard with their dog. 
 Ranger's great redeeming quality was his patience with children.  My kids tested the limits of his patience time and again.  The worst offense being when one of them poked him with a screw driver.  He didn't bark, yelp or nip--just sat there and took it.  They would sit on him, pull his tail, tease him with food and he would never react.  I remember watching the kids play tug of war with Ranger and his ring toys one afternoon.  Now, Ranger was a lab--and a big 100+ pound lab.  The first time I looked there were three small children pulling at the rings and eventually falling to their stomachs and being dragged by the dog.  The next time I looked over, the three small children were pulling the dog, who was laying on his belly.  I don't know who was having more fun with the game!
 When we lived with my folks for 4.5 months I'm sure that Ranger was getting worried.  He did enjoy the benefits of two kids sneaking out to feed him when he wasn't supposed to be fed, and giving him doggie treats and parts of lunches that weren't finished by 3 and 4 year olds.  He made a very good babysitter--and took the job quite seriously.  He was so protective of each of our kids--he used to growl at me when I would discipline Ezra when he was younger.  Funny thing, he stopped doing that as the kids got older : )

A couple of weeks ago my parents took Ranger to the vet because he was refusing to eat, had a bump on his head and seemed to be in a lot of pain.  The vet had to pull 6 teeth and remove a whole bunch of infected tissue from the roof of his mouth.  They called Mom and Dad a couple days later with the results of his labs---a very aggressive form of cancer.  Poor Ranger--he was suffering.  He eventually wouldn't even eat the soft canned dog food.  He couldn't stand up or lay down because his leg bones hurt so bad, he appeared to be going blind--all in the matter of a week.  Mom and Dad struggled with their decision--only because Jeffrey is still away at school.  But after a week of watching Ranger's pain, they knew what needed to be done.  They took him for one last walk and delivered him to a very kind vet.  She let them stay by his side as long as they wanted and hugged them as they left.  Ranger, you'll be missed.  So long, big guy.


nicole said...


kdk said...

It's hard to lose a good dog. That last picture is very sweet.

NaomiG said...

Oh, so sad. He sounds like he ended up being a great dog after the initial break-in period though! :-)So hard to lose a loyal friend like that.

Alice said...

I thought of Hank thru the whole story...I dread the day we have to make a decision about his life. Ranger sounded like a great dog and my heart goes out to all who will miss him. What a loyal dog...he had a good home!

whit's end mom said...

so sorry.