In September of 1993, an acquaintance of mine told me of her brand-new puppy. It was a shih tzu named Waldo. He was a tiny, energetic fluffy mop of a dog. Waldo probably was an important spark in our friendship, and Waldo’s owner was ultimately to become my wife, Kathy.
Waldo was soon introduced to his “brother” Sam – a shih tzu rescue. Before Emma & Peter entered our lives, Sam & Waldo were our kids. They came to outdoor concerts & traveled up & down I-95 to visit ailing family up north. Waldo’s personality is unique. For 14 years now, Waldo has been, and is oblivious to the fact that he is a small dog. [small by dog standards - HUGE by shih tzu standards] He barks at the wind and huge dogs alike. He demands table scraps, and defines persistence with his table-side barking. Meals with 2 kids are noisy – add Waldo to the mix, and you have a nightmare – nightly!
Waldo is well into his second life now. In September of 2000, I was taking the dogs for a walk – as I have done for years. There are many types of dogs in our neighborhood, and Waldo barks at them all. There was a known Rottweiler up the street. The dog was never walked, always running around his owners back yard & barking at unseen people, dogs & cars from behind its fence. As Sam, Waldo and I walked past their house, the Rottweiler viciously barked at us. This happened often, but on this walk, all hell broke loose. The dog’s owner had left town for the weekend, leaving his “pet” out in the elements to terrorize anything he could. The Rottweiler repeatedly slammed against its fence until the wooden slats shattered into splinters, and the Rottweiler charged us.He had his choice of us to victimize – he chose Waldo. He pinned Waldo to the ground in his vice-like jaws and bit down in a death grip. My yelling did not deter the attacker, so I resorted to actually kicking him repeatedly in the head in a desperate attempt to force him to release his grip on Waldo. Looking back now, I don’t know if it was all that smart to kick a Rottweiler with death on his mind, but it was what I decided to do in my adrenalin-soaked, panicked brain cells.
It worked. My blows to the animal’s head bothered him enough to have him release Waldo. Waldo was gravely injured, and in shock. He was rushed to the emergency vet hospital, where I said my goodbyes to him forever, along with an apology for ever walking him in this neighborhood. It seemed that my efforts unlocked the jaws-of-death, but now Waldo was to be no more.
The call from the animal hospital the next morning was dreaded. We were sure that the word was of a valiant, but failed attempt to save Waldo’s life, but the call was promising news – he survived the night, and had extensive surgery to repair torn muscles & bruised organs. It was to be a slow, rough recovery, but he might actually survive this ordeal… and survive, he has!
Tomorrow, May 5th, Waldo turns 14. That’s 98 in human years, folks. He is arthritic (from advanced age & his brush with the Rottweiler), and suffers from Cushing’s Desease, but every day is gravy since September of 2000.
Dinners are still fortissimo thanks to the nightly duet of Peter & Waldo, but that’s life.
The Rottweiler and his irresponsible owner moved from the neighborhood, and we heard that the dog escaped one time too many, and met a motor vehicle head-on. Wish I were the driver.
Happy 14th birthday, Waldo. It’s all gravy!