Amidst all the hoopla of March Madness, they daily grind of life goes on. And on Saturday, that grind had me burying a good friend.
Sir Lancelot, better know as Lance, was a Welsh Corgi mix that my wife (girlfriend at the time) and I adopted from the humane society in 1999. If I recall correctly, he was about eight months old.
Like many young boys, I had always wanted a dog growing up, but things just never quite worked out. Finally as I transitioned out of college into the real world and had a steady job, the timing seemed to be right.
A German Shephard or a Doberman was my desire, but living in a small apartment that just wasn't going to happen. I also didn't want a pup as I didn't have the time to properly break him in. For me, adoption through the Humane Society was the way to go.
We had a 25-pound weight limit for the apartment complex I was living in, so I had to take that into account. But I also didn't want anything too small -- like a chiuaua. Upon initial inspection at the humane society, there were a couple I liked, but they didn't make the weight cut. As we were set to leave, in a small cage off to the side this one caught our eyes, looking up at us with his puppy dog eyes.
Facially, he sort of had the profile of a German Shephard, but at 1/4 the size. Perfect.
He came to us as Stephen. We christened him Sir Lancelot. My wife and I graduated from UCF where the nickname is the Knights (Golden Knights at the time we were there), so that's sort of where we were coming from when choosing his name.
Lance was far from the perfect dog, just as I was far from the perfect owner. There were many times over the years I thought about turning him back in.
There was the early adjustment period when he'd poop and pee in the apartment, but chalked that up to adjusting to a new place. He eventually got over that.
When I got the job with SportsLine (now CBSSports.com), we had to move away from my girlfriend for about six months until we were married. I think there was a bit of separation anxiety as he began to destroy things in our new apartment. One day I came home to find a whole mess of destroyed CDs and video games. It was about that time I wasn't sure I could keep him any longer. I just felt I couldn't devote enough time to him. My wife talked me out of it.
Things were a little better once we married and she joined us. But there was still the time he pooped in one of my shoes. It was the middle of the night and I got this whiff of you know what. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. And then I made the discovery. Let's just say it wasn't the well-formed kind. Needless to say I wanted to ring his neck.
But we still stuck with him. For better or worse, we were in this for the long haul.
Our first child came into the world in 2004 and that meant Lance sharing the spotlight for the first time. In 2007 we added a couple more kids. I think he adjusted OK, though none of my children ever really bonded with him. More white a grey hairs sprouted around his muzzle. I guess the kids stressed him out as much as they do us.
I don't know what his first owners did to him, but he always was a bit prickly. He took a nip out of everybody in the family as well as a few others. Those nips usually came when he felt backed in a corner or if people tried to take food (or crayons, he had a bad habit of eating crayons when they fell to the floor) away from him. I don't think he particularly liked children as they were too rambunctious and loud for his tastes.
He'd snag food off the table when nobody was looking. Two or three times a year we'd have to take him to the vet for ear infections. He seemed to shed all the time, leaving hair balls all over the place.
You'd think with all these issues, I'd be relieved that he's gone.
Despite all his faults, he was an integral part of my world. He was small in stature, but had the heart and courage of a lion. We used to take him to the dog park and if the big dogs tried to mess with him, he had no qualms about taking them on. He had the bark of a 100-pound dog. I have no doubt that if anyone tried to break in or attack us, he'd have mauled them.
He was also a great vacuum. My kids drop an awful lot of food on the floor and he was gladly there to eat it all up.
And he was so danged cute. On a bad day, spending a little time with him would always ease the tension. Unlike a kid, he couldn't yell and scream and talk back.
It was only a couple of weeks ago I came home and discovered he wasn't breathing normally. My wife took him to the vet the next day and the diagnosis wasn't good -- lung cancer, heart failure or possibly an infection. Best case scenario was an infection, but unfortunately in turned out to be the cancer. His condition deteriorated day by day. His breathing became more labored and he wasn't eating.
Not wanting to see him whither into nothing and possibly in pain, we made the agonizing call to put him to sleep. Many tears have been shed. He has been a part of our life almost as long as me and my wife have been together. Even with three screaming kids, it's odd and empty not to have him around anymore.
He was one of a kind and will be missed.