Remembering Percy the Dog (ca. 2002-2011)

Percy, our beloved family dog

 

We recently had to make a difficult decision regarding our family pet, Percy: a 60-pound german shorthaired pointer mix that my wife and I adopted from a shelter in southern California in 2004. (He was less than 24 hours from being euthanized.) In late 2008 he moved in with my parents–who are just a mile down the road from us–due to a combination of a lack of space in our small house and the birth of our daughter. My parents bonded deeply with Percy–especially my father, whose eternal youth was preserved by Percy’s constant companionship and their romps in the local forest preserves. An e-mail my dad sent to family and friends last week sums up our recent tribulations:

Dear family & friends,

I’m deeply saddened to announce that Percy was peacefully put to sleep this evening at 5:45 pm. Louis and I held him closely as the shot was administered in his front left leg.

Over the course of the past several months, Percy had started to exhibit some aggressive behaviors. While it wasn’t his predominant disposition, more and more he had begun to growl and show signs of aggression in certain situations. We realized the safety of our family and friends had to come first. With great difficulty, we made the decision to put Percy down before someone got hurt.

I know some of you are dog lovers, others of you tolerate them, and still others may not really care for them. What I know in my heart, however, is that dogs clearly become family members. The comfort they bring us, the loyalty they exhibit, and the way they accept us unconditionally is something many humans could learn from our canine friends.

This past week has been extremely difficult for me. While fighting back tears at the oddest moments, I became more cognizant of all that Percy and I have shared these past several years. The long walks in the forest preserve, playing in dog parks, and learning about dog beaches are just some of the obvious fun memories, But it’s the quieter moments that I know will impact me the most. It was the way he curled up next to me while I watched TV, how he would always sneak away with someone’s slipper, that Sunday morning egg he always enjoyed, or just seeing him basking so happily in the southeast corner of the living room as the sun shone down on him. It’s those type of memories that already tug at my heart.

Anyway, I’ll close by saying I am not ashamed of the many tears I have shed this past week. And I fully expect more will follow as the days turn to weeks. I know the grieving will subside. It just doesn’t feel that way right now. So I can only comfort myself by knowing I gave Percy all of the love my heart could extend. He was such a good boy and he will be sorely missed.

Matt

What my dad didn’t note was that Percy’s behavior had been a problem ever since we adopted him. He had various behavioral issues, many of which were likely related to his experiences as a shelter dog and being surrendered twice in his first 1.5 years of life before we adopted him. We forked out money to hire a personal animal trainer/behaviorist to work with us one-on-one with Percy early on, which helped with many of the issues, but he always had a serious problem with dominance aggression. (He nipped both my mom and me and threatened to nip my wife and dad on several occasions.) We simply couldn’t take the risk that he would nip one of us again or worse yet, my daughter or one of our family members or friends.

The toughest part of all this was that Percy was a great dog 90% of the time. He was incredibly loyal and affectionate and full of energy. He was a great companion who loved to play and snuggle. He was also otherwise very healthy. It would have been much easier had we been forced to put him down due to a physical ailment.

In any event, despite what our hearts felt, our minds all agreed upon what had to be done. I like to think that we gave Percy six good years of life he otherwise wouldn’t have had. There’s no doubt he enriched our lives. Even my two-year-old daughter has asked several times: “Where’d Percy go?” To which we’ve responded: “He went away to play with his doggie friends. He won’t be coming back, but we’ll remember him forever in our hearts.”

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4 comments on “Remembering Percy the Dog (ca. 2002-2011)

  1. Maria Diaz Schmitt
    January 19, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    Well stated Louis. We all miss Percy but there were behavioral issues such that we could no longer trust him. He had a really good life when he lived with you and Stephanie and us. Our house seems large and empty without him. We will always remember him and be thankful for the good times we had with him. i know he was your first dog and that losing him was/is difficult for you. Love, Mom

  2. Matthew Schmitt
    January 20, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    Very well written, Louis. Sill missing the boy more than I can express.

  3. Teri
    January 20, 2011 at 2:39 am #

    Lou,
    Your mom forwarded your blog. It’s a beautiful tribute to Percy. We know you and the family will miss him terribly. We know that he was a loyal and loving dog.

    All our best,

    teri and bob

    • Louis
      January 21, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

      Teri and Bob,

      Thanks for visiting, and for your kind words. I hope all is well out East!

      Best,

      Lou

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