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More than a Dog

Updated on June 19, 2012

I guess this is a sad story, but it shouldn't be. It's the story of Andrew, my wife’s beautiful Husky/Shepherd mix. Andrew could have been a dog model, his picture should have been on dog food bags, posters at the vet’s office, or maybe even the side of a bus somewhere, advertising insurance. The dog was flat out gorgeous, and he knew it. Boy did he know it. On more than one occasion I caught him staring at himself in the mirror, as if he was admiring his natural beauty.

Andrew was perhaps the most spoiled dog I have ever come across in my life, he was a prima donna of sorts. When I walked in the door, he would howl for a treat, I'd give him a treat and he’d howl for another. Sometimes, if I refused, the dog would actually stomp his feet-ahem, paws in protest.

Andrew enjoyed car rides more than anything in the world. He would often stop traffic, as people would smile and point at the large regal dog, his head out of the window, pointing straight ahead.

My wife, Anne, had gotten Andrew as a puppy and taken upon herself to make sure he had anything and everything a dog could want. I’m not sure he was ever told no in his life. As a puppy, he would often eat shoes, I'm told he had a taste for fine Italian leather. He also had a taste for trouble, as I would find out.

Meeting Andrew

When I met Andrew he was around 7. I remember being amazed by his youthful spirit. He would run the trails with my dog Bruce. Bruce was 3 and at times had trouble keeping up with Andrew. The dog could run, the longer the walk, the better. I've read that huskies can slow down their metabolism to endure grueling working sessions. Andrew was working alright, running for miles and miles until he decided it was time to come back. (There's a reason you see all of those missing dog posters with pictures of beautiful huskies on them.)

Chasing Andrew

I spent countless evenings chasing and tracking Andrew through acres of trails. He made a name for himself; runners would see me with an extra leash and say something to the effect of, “I think Andrew is up near the second bridge, he was chasing a deer in the creek.” We would arrive at the second bridge and Andrew was nowhere to be found.

Then I would hear it, faint at first, getting louder from up on the hill, a stick breaking, the leaves crunching, then a deer running for his life, with Andrew not far behind. Each time I would promise myself that I would never let him off leash again, and each time I would break that promise after Andrew’s pleading. I was a sucker and he knew it.

At times he would get a crazed look in his eyes, a look that seemed to say, You guys are in for a long day! On days like this Andrew would become a wild animal, with an insatiable appetite to run. His tongue hanging, he was a sight to see, galloping through the forest at full speed on a quest for squirrels. The Shepherd in him was the brains, the husky was the attitude. More than once I would have to go into the creek and pull him out by his collar, and more than once I noticed a distinct look of satisfaction on his face as I would walk the rest of the way with my feet soaking wet.

Andrew was always on the trails, even when he wasn't. Anne and I watched him one evening as he slept. He was kicking and "running" as dogs often do when they dream. Barking slightly, his eyes flickered as he chased the deer of his dreams. Suddenly he was awake. Somewhat confused, he looked around and began panting, as if he was tired from his run.

An extremely vocal dog, Andrew was never one to hide his feelings, his displeasure would be voiced. He would whine if you had something he wanted, continuing and building up the volume until he was practically howling at you.

Needless to say, there was never a dull moment. Andrew was full of personality and attitude, the likes of which I have never seen. A true brat. he would decide what moments he would allow you to pet him, or thumb his nose at you and walk away. We bonded over the course of our many walks together in the woods, although few were spent walking together.

We first noticed something was amiss when Andrew started limping. At ten, he was considered older for a dog his size but he was in remarkable physical condition, we thought he may have just been sore. Many trips to the vet later we knew there was a serious problem.

I’ll never forget the day we found out his condition was terminal. Anne had taken him to the vet again while I was out in the yard working. As I watched her pull into the driveway I could immediately tell the news was bad. I felt helpless watching Anne sitting in the car, crying. Andrew had been diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a highly aggressive bone cancer and given maybe 2-6 months to live.

As his condition worsened, we knew we had to make a decision. It wasn't fair to Andrew to prolong his suffering for our selfish reasons. At the same time it wasn't fair for Anne to have to make such a grave decision. I remember scouring the internet looking for other options, but everything I read pointed to the answer I didn't want to face. A few more days passed and we knew what had to be done. We called the vet and made the appointment.

All to quickly for us, the day came and the weather was beautiful. Anne spent the afternoon with Andrew on a blanket in the front yard. Andrew spent his last day with his favorite person, eating treats while sunbathing out in the yard. On the way to the vet, on a bevy of powerful pain pills, Andrew hung his head out of the window one last time, smiling with the wind in his face, as regal as ever. Andrew the Prince, as we used to call him.

Missing Andrew

I won’t go into the details, but it was one of the worst experiences I've ever had to endure. Even more so for Anne, it made us question having dogs in the first place. On the way home, I would look back at the empty seat, where our beautiful dog had just sat with his head out the window and a smile on his face.

My wife and I will always have an abundance of memories and funny stories to tell about the most stubborn dog in the world. Anyone who has owned a dog knows how difficult it is to let them go. They are a great deal of happiness for us for so long, but in the end it's never quite long enough. So here’s to the one and only Andrew, hopefully he's being good up there!


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    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks femme, he was special, as they all are to us! Thanks for the kind words.

    • profile image

      femmeflashpoint 5 years ago


      I was so sorry to read this. But, as sad as it was, it was a beautiful tribute to Andrew.

      I feel your pain, and totally sympathize. Pets give us sooooo much love and devotion, on a far larger scale than we usually receive from people. They'll hang with us, and trust, and even put themselves in harm's way to serve and protect, and they seem to be happy with only affection in return.

      You and Annie were obviously great "parents" already. And, I have no doubts that Andrew lived a woderful life with you. That's the best you can give, and I'm sure he appreciated it.


    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks rahulo, that they are!

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Sorry for your loss .... !!! My condolences... they are wonderful family members I must say

      Great hub

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 5 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Oh gosh I'm so sorry to hear about your's such a heart wrenching time for us dog lovers when they're gone...take care...

    • Fennelseed profile image

      Annie Fenn 5 years ago from Australia

      Andrew had a wonderful life, one that many dogs could only dream about. He was loved throughout and to the very end and bought so much joy and liveliness to your family. Thank you for sharing his beautiful antics with us and you are right this is a sad story but it shouldn't be.

      We bought my older children a sheltie (mini collie) puppy when they were young. He was an adored member of the family for 14 years and after he developed a cancerous growth we made the heart breaking decision to end his suffering. My youngest daughter was only 11 at the time and Hobo had always been a part of her life. I am so sorry for your loss also as I know what you are going through. My votes and best wishes to you.

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      They are great companions mary, that's for sure. Thanks for reading and sharing!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      My dog, Baby, has wrapped herself right around my heartstrings just like Andrew did to your wife. I can understand. I read all about not having an "alpha" dog, but my little dog is just about my equal. I'm sorry for your loss. I voted this Hub UP, etc.etc. and will share because it is just beautiful.

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks for reading and commenting runningdeer, I appreciated it! I'm sorry about your dog as well.

      Thanks moonlake, it is definitely the worst part of owning a dog! Thanks for sharing!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      Sorry for your loss. Andrew was a beautiful dog.

      We had our dog euthanized last month. How we hated doing that. He got in the car thinking he was going for a nice ride maybe to see our daughter. He loved to go there. Instead he went to the vet but they did come out to the car to euthanize him.

      We wished everyday he would just go to sleep and not wake up so we wouldn't have to take him in. That just didn't happen.

      Voted Up and sharing.

    • RunningDeer profile image

      RunningDeer 5 years ago from Iowa

      You are right about the sad ending, but the warning helped. I love dogs and I love reading about your dogs. Your hubs are hilarious. I'm sorry your pupdog grew too old. I like how your wife spent the day with him. My mom had to euthanize our dog I grew up with when I was little and I know how hard it was for her. Thanks for writing. Voted up and sharing!

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      I can't believe it's been a year now since we had to maket that painful decision, as I'm sure you understand. Thanks for sharing your story, and I agree that's its unfair to make them suffer for our sake. Thanks for reading.

    • billips profile image

      billips 5 years ago from Central Texas

      I knew before I started to read this story that it would bring tears to my eyes - it seems a sad story, but it isn't - it is just so hard to part with those we love - I am so glad that you did not let him suffer - he was a great dog and brought you both so much joy, he deserved a gentle death - I recently had to see one of my dogs on her way - I still can't stop thinking of her and of course that makes me sad which it shouldn't because she was such a wonderful, happy, energetic dog - when I saw that the cancer was no longer allowing her to enjoy the things she loved, I knew it was time - I read one bit on the internet about euthanasia that said 'better a day early, than a day late' - it was Andrew's time as it was Maggie's time - regards, B.

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Thank you for the kind words Charlu, he was one of the great ones!

    • Charlu profile image

      Charlu 5 years ago from Florida

      What an incredible companion and as the tears roll down my cheek I can't help but think of some of mine. Extraordinary dedication to an undoubtedly incredible companion and gorgeous dog. I remember complementing your avatar before knowing the true meaning. Thank you for sharing

    • profile image

      prrthidva 5 years ago

      ove you MOM

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Thank you for the kind comments Dawn,they're much appreciated!

    • Nature by Dawn profile image

      Dawn Ross 5 years ago

      Andrew is really beautiful! I'm so sorry for your loss. There are no words of condolences that can take away the pain. Thank you for sharing his memory!

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Yes, he definitely loved Alecia, I felt bad after my wife read this, she was crying. Thanks for reading!

      Thanks cheatlierrepeat, the names are funny, my lab's name is brewster but we shortened it to bruce. I like the idea of birthday parties!

      They truly are Mark, great friends. Thanks!

    • Mark Pitts profile image

      Mark Pitts 5 years ago from United States

      The dogs I have now, and the dogs I have had in the past, are the best friends and family I have ever had or could ever want. Great story. Andrew is still making others remember good things.

    • cheatlierepeat profile image

      cheatlierepeat 5 years ago from Canada

      This is so beautiful and even though it is sad it is also such a loving tribute. I love that your dogs have people names: Andrew and Bruce. I found that adorable. I also understand the love one can have for an animal. I used to rock my little "Kramer" to sleep and I even would wipe him with a baby wipe after he came in from doing his business (puppy days only). He had birthday parties and was truly a member of our family. I'm very sorry for your loss, Andrew was lucky to have such a loving family just as you were so lucky to have had him in your life. They truly are mans best friend!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      This is a lovely tribute to a stubborn creature who seemed alot like a child to you and your wife. I'm very sorry for your loss but I'm glad he got to die with those he loved most around him. Wonderful hub!

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Thank you all for your kind comments, as dog lovers, we do it to ourselves but it is well worth it!

    • time2rite profile image

      time2rite 5 years ago from Navarre, Fl, USA

      I'm sorry for your loss, weestro; this is a beautiful tribute. It brought tears to my eyes as I remembered our two chows that died within a year of one another, our older chow gal outliving the younger by one year. They now are quietly buried in our backyard under the shade trees they lazed under. It is indeed hard to say "good-bye" to our beloved friends. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    • jandee profile image

      jandee 5 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

      How good you are at telling this interesting tale of the adventures of your handsome companion ! Then only too soon time has taken over ! So sorry.. I am now remembering all my Boxer Girls and Boys I have had over the years. I kept my Boy 'Ben' too long ,couldn't let go,

      thanks for your beautiful and sad tale, he had a lovely life I think ,your Andrew,

      best from jandee

    • MarloByDesign profile image

      MarloByDesign 5 years ago from United States

      I have watery eyes too. I am so glad Andrew spent his last day with his favorite person and relaxing in the sun. It is hard to type with teary eyes...

      I have two dogs I love so much and cannot bear to think about that dreadful day for me, and I think I will never be truly prepared until it happens. My heart goes out to your wife too.

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Definitely the worst part of being a dog owner darren, sorry to hear that. Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

    • darrenworks profile image

      darrenworks 5 years ago from Lake In The Hills, IL

      The tears in my eyes are for real. I have two Boston terrier's that are close in age, only a few months apart, and I expect to lose them both only a few months apart. Truth is, I have been mouring their passing even now as they enjoy happy and healthy lives. They are now both seven years old and wonderful companions. My family put three dogs down before I left home at 22 years old, and I have not known life without a canine companion. I am now 42 yrs. old and whenever I think of those dogs till this day it will bring tears to my eyes. I have learned to begin preparing myself mentally long before the time comes when it's time to say goodbye to a powerful friendship forever. We must take solace if the fact that we were good to our dogs and provided them with love and health while they lived, and we received the same in return. I have a short Hub poem about our dogs you might enjoy.

      This hub is a really nice tribute to your canine friend! Great Photo's! I still have watery eyes....

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks Andrea, he was loved, that's for sure!

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      Andrea 5 years ago

      Andrew sounds lovely. How fortunate to spend his last day surrounded by love. We had to put our cocker spaniel to sleep last fall. You are right...hardest thing I have ever done. Good writing.

    • weestro profile image

      Pete Fanning 5 years ago from Virginia

      MsWatz, thank is the worst, one minute they're laying with you, the next they're gone forever. I'm sorry you had to go through that with your loved one.

    • MsWatz profile image

      MsWatz 5 years ago from NY

      I am sorry for your loss. I had to take my Boxer to be put to sleep. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I held his face in my hands and looked directly in his eyes. During the whole time I kept telling him how much I loved him.