The End came with an unexpected suddenness.
On Monday last he was full of pep, ready, willing and able to do the twice a day two mile walks and enthusiastically approached the morning and evening daily dining experiences with the gusto of a dog that seemed to have never seen before food in his life.
By Friday he could barely walk.
The Vet was called and she graciously made room in her afternoon schedule for a quick check.
Blood was drawn, tests were ordered, medicine was prescribed.
Christmas Eve morning Going Outside to Do Business was a two person, one dog job.
As luck would have it, the Whole Fandamnily was scheduled to come over for The Evening Feast and the Night Before Christmas assault on The Pile of Loot stacked potlach-style nearly as high as the Christmas Tree itself.
He was given A Place of Honor on a thick rug almost under the tree and though it was hard for him to hold his head up The Big Brown Eyes were still alert and Taking It All In.
The Kindness of A Small Blessing.
Christmas Day dawned at about ten below zero with a nasty north wind. The first thing in the morning business trip outside yielded no results, nor did the next one nor did the one after that.
Comfort came in the form on a soft rug and a warm snuggle next to the radiator in The Favorite Spot.
Everyone took turns petting, rubbing, brushing, nuzzling, kissing, burying noses in and anointing his thick red-brown fur with tears.
Those Sweet Eyes looked back filled with the Kind of Love Only A Dog Can Give.
The call from the vet.
Acute, catastrophic kidney failure.
Chemistry off the chart in The Not Good News way.
No choice really.
We carried him out to the car in a beach towel, hammock style; strength sapped he couldn’t get up or raise his head.
A final ride to The Vet; she had saved his life when he was a puppy after he had decided that The Edge of Drywall above the recessed radiator in The Favorite Spot was a good place to gnaw and cut his teeth. She did the surgery, fixed up his blocked bowel good as new and assured us he would have a Healthy Recovery and enjoy a Long Hearty Adventure Filled Life.
Which he did.
Thirteen years, six months and handful of happy doggy days.
The Hound Strozek.
The Best Dog Ever in the Whole Wide World.