He was a terrier through-and-through; I love the airedale breed because of their typical stubborn terrier sense of duty. When they put their mind to something it takes a lot to change it.
He has been my constant companion for the last 12 years, the first to make it to the door for the new adventure; the first to jump onto the truck. He loves to sleep near the foot of the bed to make sure that he doesn't miss anything that I might do; any adventure he might come on, no matter how mundane.
|Some of Monsters last litter|
He has sired about 100 puppies that are all over the country now; in ones and twos, airedales for families that want the breed, or have fond memories of their old airedale. Some of his pups are in British Columbia, hunting bears and cougars; some are in Texas, hunting pigs. The airedales that I love are a working breed; sturdy frame, well muscled, deep in chest, keen eye, excellent nose.
He has been all of that.
He has been losing weight for the last 6 months, and I think that part of that is an old injury; I had to have his hip surgically repaired after a pig dislocated his leg, and while costly, it gave him another 8 years of running and barking and doing what he loved to do. I have appreciated the time with him.
He has always been a food-centric dog; he would guard the food from the other dogs for hours, or days. He'd be the first on the scene with a sick pig. So much so that we called him "Dr. Monster" -- he was uncanny in being able to determine who would, and wouldn't, live, and he lived for the days when we slaughtered something. He is terrified of fireworks, but learned to run to gunshots -- seeing the gun come out was always a happy time for him. Something was going to die, and there would be blood and to Monster, that was a great day.
For the last month he's been in the house; steadily dropping weight, having a hard time finding a comfortable position to sleep in, slowly losing ground. Aspirin and other medicines have made his time a little easier, but tonight it's clear that he's not going to get better. At some point in our lives we all will have to face our end, and farming has taught me that it is no kindness to prolong it. I used to go to heroic measures, but over the years I've found that as hard as it is, it's a kindness to go before the bitter end.
So I dig a hole out in the field, leaving the fresh earth next to it, and when he sees me with the gun, he's happy. Something good is going to happen. I'm having a hard time keeping composure. I have to carry him out to the truck for the short drive, and I set him down next to the hole, and I tell him how much I've loved having him. And I do what a friend does.
Thank you, Monster.