They say dogs choose their owners. Which is why, when a certain two week old, jet black puppy waddled up to my family from his whole litter, looked at each of us with his melting, baleful eyes, and proceeded to urinate on the floor, we knew we didn’t need to choose which puppy we’d be going home with. He had chosen for us.
Skibo was a mix of a Great Dane and a Boxer and had both the joviality and moodiness associated with both breeds. He was tall, lean, built like a Labrador, and easily one of the best highlights of our household for the ten years that he lived. While he was a puppy, a memory that continues to sit at the forefront of my mind is how, after I was back home from school, I’d immediately find him, scoop him up in my arms and carry him out to the garden while he yawned widely, wondering what was going on. I’d then plop him under the shade of a tree and sit with him while he would roam around me, never stepping out of the tree’s shadow. I would then relay to him (and only him) how my day at school had been and generally talk to him nonstop while he allowed himself to be distracted by just about anything. This practice would continue on a daily basis up until his adult doggy years. I loved talking to him and sharing my thoughts and troubles and soon he too understood my mood, based on my voice,, and would react accordingly, from either grinning ear to ear if I sounded happy, or plopping his head on my lap and whining softly if I sounded sad. He was truly the perfect confidant because whatever I told him would ever be for his ears and his ears only.
Having the genes that he did, Skibo was a dog with a lot of energy. I can still recall how very routinely, every single day at 5 pm, he would get my attention in some shape or form, to make sure I took him outside to play. Even if I was asleep at the time, he would gently sniff at my face and give me gentle licks until I woke up. Playing with him was always entertaining and there were lots of things he loved to do. One of his personal favorites would be for me to command him to stay, while I slowly walked away from him and the second I made a run for it, he would chase me down and attempt to topple me over. Another game he loved playing was to chase after something I tossed, like a ball or a stick or a Frisbee, and then force me to chase after him in order to get it back. This unfortunately resulted in a lot of broken and chewed-up toys.
Suffice to say, Skibo was an incredibly important member of our household of eight. Even up to the point where we used to celebrate his birthday every first of February. We would bake him a cake or make him a meal of his favorite meats and for that one day each year, we’d allow him to stand up on his hind legs and eat off of the dining table, while we sang happy birthday. The excitement in our voices as we sang, fueled his own excitement and he would chow down on his threat at record speed, sometimes even in time to join in the birthday song with a few barks of his own.
Being such a lively, eccentric, and overall good boy, his last year with us was brutal. About ten months prior to his passing, at the age of about nine years, he was diagnosed with a giant cyst near his stomach that had to be surgically removed. I will never forget the look of fear and confusion he gave me and my sister before he was given anesthesia and wheeled into the surgical theatre. It was gut-wrenching. Fortunately, the surgery was a success, and we got to see our droopy-eyed boy wake up to us.
The months that followed, however, didn’t make things easier on him. His old age, coupled with the surgery, took a toll and he was lethargic and barely ate anything. Some of our final memories with him were holding and stroking his paws while he had to be hooked onto an IV machine to be given some kind of nutrition. We took these moments to thank him and let him know how much joy he had brought into our lives. One morning the day we feared most, dawned.was woken up, not by Skibo’s loving sniffs and licks, like he had done so many times before, but by my sister’s sobbing. I ran out to see my best friend getting ready to breathe his last. It was almost as if, he had hung in there until we had all shown up and had gotten a chance to say goodbye to each of us. We all crowded around him,
ears in our eyes, making sure that he knew that he was surrounded by people who loved him.
And then he was gone.
I’m sorry for relaying such a sad story. But the point of it wasn’t to jerk tears. It was to pay homage to someone that selflessly lit up a portion of my life, for the entirety of his. It is to show the world what an amazing, fun-loving, and dependable friend, Skibo was and how much he meant to me and my family.
Skibo, thank you for coming into our lives and bringing along so much sunshine and happiness with you. Rest Easy and in Peace.