I am glad to welcome the talented Toni V. Sweeney to the blog to share a beloved furbaby memory. This is one of the best stories we’ve had on Furbaby Friday, and deeply moving. Get out the tissues.
Toni: The Biggest Dog in the World
His name was Spud, a name for a big bruiser of a dog—think Spuds McKenzie, the Budweiser dog—and not a toy poodle, but he had the heart of the biggest dog in the universe…
He was Spud McRowdi, son of Conan the Barkbarian.
At birth, Spud weighed two ounces. If I’d put a stamp on him, I could’ve mailed him First Class.
I was there when he was born, saw this tiny creature… just lying there…not moving… blew gently against its tiny pink nose…nothing. In desperation, I took a cotton swab, forced open the toothless mouth and pushed the swab over the lax minute tongue into the little throat. There was a gigantic gag…the puppy started breathing, and I stood there, staring at the tiny miracle of life lying on my palm.
He certainly wasn’t much to look at—not much longer than my middle finger nor even as wide, bulging eyelids resembling a baby bird’s…a turned-up pink nose like a tiny piglet…the hairless tail of a white rat—looked like anything except a dog.
“Ugly little spud, isn’t he?” I quoted the famous line from the movie Ghostbusters, in the scene where the trio have their encounter with the green slime ghost. He was supposed to be named Whitey, but he was Spud from that moment on.
The next day, I made a beeline for the vet’s. He said, “If you can keep him alive two weeks, he might make it,” gave me puppy formula, a 6-ounce syringe, a feeding tube, and instructions on how to feed the puppy using the syringe.
Every two hours day and night for two weeks, I stuffed that feeding tube down that poor puppy’s throat, injecting formula. “This is like taking care of a real baby!” I told my son.
I also had to keep Spud on a heating pad to keep his body temperature regulated—even in July—and run a vaporizer to keep his respiratory system clear. Ruined the bedroom wall with all that steam, but what the heck?
In two weeks, I was feeding Spud other things through his tube: watery pablum with strained eggs mixed in, apple juice. He now fit in the palm of my hand, was the size he should have been at birth, weighed one pound. His sisters were three times that size.
During the day, Spud slept in an old playpen, protected from those boisterous girl-pups. At night, he snuggled on my pillow. When we went places, he rode in my shirt pocket.
“Is that thing real?” people would ask. “Where’s his wind-up key?”
Suddenly, he began to grow…teeth, for starters. I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have the first dog with dentures, but at six months, two tiny toothpick incisors appeared and then a mouthful of teeth. Spud started growing, and didn’t stop until he weighted 7 whole pounds and was a full 12 inches high at the shoulder, still smaller than anyone else in his family, but big enough, considering how he started out.
Being premature, he was sickly, internally, anyway. He developed kidney failure, was put on a high carb diet. Ironically, the family cat was diagnosed with the same thing 6 months later, though the vet assured me there was no correlation. Nonetheless, both went on the same diet—Ramen noodles, rice, chopped spaghetti, with a little regular pet chow thrown in. Spud gobbled it down and went on his merry way, bullying the entire household.
In Nebraska’s winter, frolicking in the snow in below-zero temperatures, he allowed me to dress him in sweaters and snowsuits, and bore Spring hair-cuts with stoic stolidness—but no nail paint or bows…please! After all, he was a he-man dog, even if he was a poodle.
I talked to Spud as if he were human. He thought he was, anyway. A canine intelligence test showed he had the IQ of a two-year-old person. He became my bodyguard—all 7 pounds of him. When the Gentleman Caller came around, he sat between us like a jealous child. It took him a year to accept the man who became his Best Buddy.
He even had his fifteen minutes of fame as one of the characters in my novel Spacedogs’ Best Friend.
The end came less dramatically than the beginning. When he became ill, I wasn’t worried; he’d had other bouts…he always rallied…for 14 years…
Not this time. Too weak to stand, he was taken to the backyard, wagged his tail and sniffed the early morning air as he always did. Then, he was carried inside and placed on my bed. He lay his head on his forepaws and took a deep breath and let it out….
Even now, thoughts of that faithful, loving little creature can make me cry. I can truthfully say I’ve never known any human as affectionate and faithful as that tiny dog. I was “Mama” and he was “my baby,” and we both knew the true meaning of the word “bonded.”
He loved me for no other reason than because he could.
I’d been there at the beginning, I was there at the end, and—to paraphrase another saying—Spuddy, I’m glad to have known you!
Blurb for Spacedogs’ Best Friend:
Against her parents’ wishes, spoiled teenager Jenny Halpin’s doting uncle gives her a space cruise as a graduation gift. Unfortunately, before Jenny can enjoy much of the voyage, the ship collides with a meteor shower and her escape pod is separated from the others.
Landing on an uninhabited world are Jenny and her pod-mates…three poodles. Not just any poodles. They’re the telepathic royal family of Canaris and they seem to think Jenny’s their servant, existing just to protect and serve them…
Robinson Crusoe had it easy!
Read about the exploits of the fictional Spud and his family in the novel Spacedogs’ Best Friend at Amazon in Kindle: www.amazon.com/Spacedogs-Best-Friend-Toni-Sweeney-ebook/dp/B00JPOGAN8/
In paperback from:
***Award-winning author Toni V. Sweeney has numerous titles published in various fiction genres. Visit her Amazon Author Page at:
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