Butch’s Family Says Goodbye to a Good Buddy

We lost a great friend this week. No, it’s not someone you know. It was our son’s dog…His name was Eiko, and our son and his wife and daughter, who live next door to us in the country, got him about eleven years ago when he was just a pup. I will admit that when he told me he was buying a Doberman, I was a little concerned as I had heard that breed might be aggressive…and possibly not a good family-type dog. He was a beautiful red/rust colored, and as he grew, he became very muscular, powerful, and fast. He stood tall, proud, and fearless. With our family, and especially with our granddaughter, Eiko was protective, but also very gentle, with a sweet disposition. And if a car happened to come down our road, Eiko chased it and barked until it rounded the curve…in his mind…defending our homes from any intruder…even though he would never bite a soul.

Several years ago, our family set off a few fireworks after dark on the Fourth of July. When it was over, Eiko could not be found. When he didn’t show up the next morning, our entire family searched the fields, the woods, and the roads for miles around. No luck. We put the word out to our friends and neighbors, hoping that someone might see him. The temperature reached the upper 90s the next four days as we drove the countryside, and we started to think that Eiko had possibly been found and taken by someone…or even worse, had succumbed from heat and exhaustion. On the fifth day, I received a call from the family of the mail carrier in Clarks Hill…a Doberman was laying in their yard. I rushed up there. It was Eiko! He was dirty, much thinner, and his paws were sore and bleeding…but he was alive. He drank water…a lot of water!…and I hauled him home in my old car. We were so happy he was back home again, and a few tears of joy were shed that afternoon for sure.

Through the years, Eiko was a super dog. He still liked to chase cars…and birds…and rabbits…and anything that moved, but would never hurt a thing. As he got older, he liked to just lay in the grass on a sunny afternoon and chew on a rawhide treat and watch the world go by. Our granddaughter loved him and gave Eiko hugs galore. My wife and I always gave him a pat on the head and a milkbone treat whenever he came up to greet us. He was a member of our family, too.

Then about two years ago, at the age of nine, Eiko started to develop tumors. Our son purchased medication from the vet, which helped some, but as the tumors became larger, it became more difficult for Eiko to walk and run. This past winter, Eiko became worse and even had difficulty standing up at times, although he still had a good appetite and kept his sweet disposition. I knew the end was near one morning when I noticed that he had difficulty eating and swallowing his food. A few weeks later he quit eating and drinking…I think he just wanted it all to end. It was very sad to watch him just lay there, but at least he was in no pain.

On a cold, windy day this past Monday, in the sleet and rain, I buried Eiko out by the barn…where he used to lay in the sunshine and watch cars go by. He is now free of cancer, and he is again chasing rabbits, and birds, and cars…and of course, letting them go free…up in heaven. Well, what do you do when you lose a beloved pet? That’s right…you get another one! Our son was lucky enough to find another Doberman, out of the same bloodline, this week from the same family. Zeus is a cute little dog that will make a great family pet, and he has Eiko’s lovable disposition. For those of you who have lost a favorite dog, I found this poem…

“I was just a pup when we first met, I loved you from the start, You picked me up and took me home, And placed me in your heart. Good times we had together, We shared all life could throw; But years passed all too quickly, My time has come to go. I know how much you miss me, I know your heart is sore; Your love was plain to see, For even though it broke your heart, You set my spirit free. So please be brave without me, One day we’ll meet once more; For when you’re called to Heaven, I’ll be waiting at the door.”

Thanks, Eiko, you were a great dog and we will always remember you…and yes, we’ll see you again some day and give you a big hug…and I will slip you an extra treat!

– John “Butch” Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 32 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.