The BrothersClick thumbnail to view full-size
They were brothers. My husband and I selected the two schnauzer puppies from a litter at six weeks. Dekker became our family pet and Heinz went to Tennessee to live with my Mom. Hand delivered to the Smokey Mountain terrain, Heinz lived with wild rabbits in his large yard, running freely without a fence, and was raised on my Moms lap. Though he loved to run outside, he was a Momma's boy.
Dekker was dearly loved by our two children who were eleven and fourteen when Dekker arrived. Dekker was crate trained and as a result was very well behaved. He learned many tricks from my husband who had the patience to teach him. He shook hands and even sat with a dog biscuit on his nose without eating it until told he could do so.
The two dogs were entirely different in appearance. Heinz was coal black with very soft fur. He was longer and was fun to cuddle. Due to his upbringing, he was spoiled rotten and did not mind well. If you spoke in a deep voice, it seemed to get his attention. Dekker was silver in color with coarser hair. My husband's deep voice was well respected by this dog.
Two dogs under one roof
Heinz came to live with us after my mom could no longer take care of him. He seemed to thrive in our structured environment. The two dogs eventually became very close. They did everything together. If you petted the head of one, you better pet the head of the other!
These two dogs were no longer puppies. This past May, they turned seventeen. They watched out for each other. Heinz would run out the back door and then turn around to wait for hobbling Dekker. Dekker had arthritis and walked very slow those last few months.
Both were going blind. They would run into furniture. Dekker lost most of his hearing while Heinz heard most of the house activities. He did however give up his perch at the front window. For years, he sat at the window at my Moms. He loved our window until he could no longer see the squirrels climbing the big oak tree out front or see the people walking their dogs.
This past Spring was difficult at our house. Both Heinz and Dekker struggled with their daily lives. Dekker was almost totally blind and deaf. He could barely walk. He did however love to eat until the very end. The tiled kitchen floor did not allow him much traction for his shaky balance. His rear legs would slide outward as he ate. He refused to let it distract him from the eating process. In addition, his breathing became labored over time. His eating was enthusiastic, but affected by his breathing struggles.
We think Heinz had a stroke. While out in the yard one day, he began running in circles. He became shaky. His head was cocked to one side and he never straightened it again. He would occasionally trip on the grass. He was not the same dog after that day.
Schnauzers have an average life span of fourteen years. Dekker and Heinz lived until their seventeenth birthday. Heinz was the first dog to have a crisis. Due to his daily struggles, we took him to the vet and came home empty handed. My husband was the brave soul to stay with him until the end. He patted him and encouraged him until his last breath. I sat bravely in the waiting room.
Dekker was lonely after that. He struggled daily without his brother to get him through the days activities. His blindness and arthritis got the best of him. He slept most of the time. One day, his breathing became very labored. He could not seem to get his breath. One month later, we returned to the vet. Again my husband was the strong one! Dealing with Dekker's exit to Doggie Heaven was a bit more difficult for us after sixteen years.
Last PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Real Empty Nest
We now have an empty nest. Our two children have moved on and we have no pets. For several weeks, we had to adapt to the change. After being gone for several hours, there was the prompting to get home and walk the dogs. The grocery store pet aisle became a place of remembering. No I did not need to buy dog food. There were no expectant dogs waiting for us when we got home. The dog bowls were no longer in the kitchen to refill. Whew. Memories were everywhere.
Will we get another dog? Probably not. We are enjoying our new freedoms. Do you know how much time I spent taking care of two dogs? and money? I will enjoy your pets for now. Check with me in a few months and I'll let you know if we have changed our minds!