Monday morning, August 15th, my dad and mom took my oldest dog Blitzen to the vet to be euthanized because his health was deteriorating and they wanted him to be as happy as possible. Blitzen, or “bubs” as we called him a lot, was going to be fourteen years old in November. My family adopted Blitzen when I was four years old, and at the time I couldn’t even play with him because he was too crazy and overpowered me. Bubs was the most energetic puppy I’ve ever owned, and basically fulfilled every puppy horror story that you’ve ever heard. He chewed couches, escaped the house and forced us to chase him for hours, he dragged me by the leash when I tried to walk him, stole food right off the kitchen counter if you turned your head, and would shed hair like Bigfoot with leukemia.
When Blitz was six years old, we adopted our second dog, Serrana. They got along famously and became wonderful partners in crime, and there was a time when they were both in their primes that they just about ran us ragged. Between fighting each other and competing over “marked territory,” they amped up the energy level at the Stenberg household a few levels. Cats came and went through our house pretty quickly, and both dogs were very ambivalent and there were never any problems. Blitzen got along with almost everyone and never had a problem with animals. He never barked at anyone except–and I swear this a true story–at a pizza delivery guy who was very late, and so we always said that the one thing Blitz couldn’t abide was untimely food. He never hurt anyone or scared people; kids always loved him and he let them pet him gleefully. He loved wrestling with my dad and was the best food catcher that you’ve ever seen. He acted as a vacuum, pillow, and camel (when I younger).
Towards the later years in his life, the things that we loved about him as a puppy and young dog began to change, but so did our love for him. He wasn’t as energetic or frenetic, but he was calm and loyal and he loved being petted, and we grew to love him for those things just as much. He aged gracefully, and up until he was thirteen or so, he never had any health problems that really took a toll on him. He was always the more relaxed of our two dogs, and I hate to say it, but we probably like Blitzen more than Serrana. Awkward. He got along with everyone and was always there if you wanted a big, dumb, loveable thing to talk to about something. Blitz and my dad, and even my mom, grew really tight when my brother and I left to college, and so I hope my dad is coping with Blitz’s passing well. I’m sure he is; Blitz had a big share of all of our hearts, but his biggest share was in my dad’s heart.
Blitz gradually got sicker and sicker from various things, and after two surgeries in the last year, we put him on close watch. We told ourselves as soon as he was no longer checked in mentally, if he wasn’t still having a good time living every day, then we would put him to sleep. It’s almost as if he heard us though, because his health stayed pretty steady at the point it had fallen to, and he kept on chugging for a few months longer than we thought he would. He needed more laborious feeding, but besides that he still loved going outside with my dad, greeting people when they arrived in the house, sitting with the family when we were together, and getting petted. It was only in the last week or so that we thought his time had come, and so when it did, he went with the two people he loved most on this planet to his sleep. I’m sure he was as happy as can be, and I trust our vets when they say everything was painless.