Memories of George. Originally written in 2010.

My dog’s on hospice. And I never want to forget him.
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I remember when we got George, how none of my 3 partners wanted to keep him. One, because he had a terror dog at home, the other because they had a dog and finally the last, turned him down because he had no room to give him a life. The long term plan was to give him to a client that lived in Chicago. I cautiously agreed to take him home with me after sitting in Joe’s office and watching this goofy little dog try to climb over my legs. It was only 9 months after I had bought Grace for Beth and we were not married.

My first thought was he was a stinky little dog. He had kennel cough and came from dubious breeding compared to Grace. When WH2P purchased him from Smallwood kennels in Virginia, the breeder didn’t want our assistant, Neil to come to the farm. Instead they would meet at a local feed mill. All indications of the breeder screamed puppy mill.

It was Christmas week. He snuggled under my Christmas tree. I still remember his giant ears (compared to the rest of his little body). My favorite thing was to scoop him up in a quart pitcher where his giant smile and matching ears would stick out the end.

As a little pup, he would snuggle up to Grace. They were great together until she figured he was of age. He use to hide under her and bark at other dogs.

WH2P bought him to fulfill an ad campaign for our client Tom Redd, who worked at SIlvon Software in Chicago. The plan was to hold George till we could do several photoshoots with him. Create a photo stock portfolio of George photos and then send him to Tom in Chicago. Ultimately sending him there seemed to be a bad plan because if we needed to do another photo shoot, someone would have to go to Chicago, hire a photographer and do the shoot. Too much money. George’s first year with me was nicely covered by expense account. The boy that was to be George’s owner served in Desert Storm. If this had happened, our George would be in Arizona now.

The week after new years, about 2 weeks after we got him, we got his puppy shots and found he was a very sensitive pup. Damn near killed him then. I worried we’d be seeing a Taxidermist to stuff him and make a doll to finish the needed photos.

I named him George because our client’s previous product was “Arthur” and I wanted to call him that, thinking Art for short, but thought better of it. I have in my genealogy an uncle named Arthur, but I also have great uncles named George. George seemed more fitting. Finally, George and Gracie was a good fit.

Beth ADORED him from the start. He was hers and visa versa. It wasn’t long after we got him that Beth began bringing him to the Kutz home, a nursing home where she was an activity assistant. We had bought Grace for this purpose. She proved to be too rambunctious. George with no tail and small stature fit in with the wheel chairs. He quickly adopted several residents as his own.

A year after Beth left the Kutz home, I remember going to visit the Kutz home with George and how he took off down a long hall peeling into an open doorway to see a particular resident referred to as “mom.” He certainly knew his way around there.

It wasn’t long after we got him that we started him in Elaine Brooks obedience school. Beth was already started with Grace and I assumed Grace’s lessons and Beth started anew with George. Simply said, he was a fast learner and caught up to Grace easily. It wasn’t long before our Thursday nights were spent going in circles in the classroom practicing heels, recalls, sits, swings etc etc.

I remember one night we were doing a rather involved exercise where the dog goes out to a point, turns around to view his owner and sits. The owner raises either the right or left arm to point at a jump and immediately drops the arm. The dog runs to the jump, jumps and comes straight to the owner, sitting in front of them. The swing command is given and the dog goes behind his owner and comes around the left where he sits.

George did this great. So good that one night, Beth was busy yakking away with Elaine and George proceeded to do the exercise without her. He didn’t have enough patience to wait for her talk. He was good that way. We jumped into competitions soon after and he picked up 2nd, 3rd, and 4th places easily. He qualified for his AKC CD in 3 trials. It took Gracie 5 trials.

One trial, during the down stay, another dog got up and went to George and proceeded to smell his ears. George laid there sphinx like, never taking his eyes off Beth.

Other dog school stories…

In 2003 George received his AKC CD. There were 275 corgis in the USA getting this award this year. (only 6 pyrs!)

George was deadly afraid of Mandy, Elaine’s daughter.

George impressed my Father in law Ed with his smarts. One day after moving in to Ravine Road, I was setting up the TV in the family room and needed some tape just out of reach. I pointed and said “take it!” George jumped on the task. The look on Ed’s face was one of amazement. He even said something to the point that a dog like that could be useful to a plumber.

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Beth started working at Stonegates, as the Activity Director, 10 years ago. George would have been 1-1/2 at the time. He was never part of the package when Beth was hired, but Beth started to bring him in a couple of days a week. It wasn’t long before he was every day. Beth’s response to her boss was he just followed her to the car and jumped in! He’s been there every day that Beth has worked since.

When Beth had her hysterectomy surgery, the residents asked my mother if George could come in while Beth was recuperating at home.

My mother would call him “pogo,” my dad’s dog’s name. It was very special to me and my brothers that Mom got a daily visit from my dog.

He use to sleep upside down in the hallways with his 4 paws in the air. Little ladies would say from their walkers “look, a dead dog!”

There was one woman who didn’t like George and would stomp her walker down at him. George would literally walk circles around her keeping a 10 foot radius.

Many times I’ve seen a little lady point at George and say “that’s my dog!” To you, madam, I have some overdue vet bills.

If you ever needed to find Beth, you just needed to look down the hall to find George. He would wait outside a door for hours awaiting her return.

George was run over at Stonegates one day as Beth and he walked from the car to the door. Apparently a mason with a large pickup truck drove quickly through the lot, not noticing him. George, true to his cattle breeding, tucked and rolled right under. After a scary ride to the vet, he fully recovered. I don’t think the workman was ever invited back to Stonegates.

On days that Beth wouldn’t be home or work, I’d take George to work with me. Lunch for him those days would be a child’s roast beef Arby’s sandwich, hold the roll, don’t need the lettuce. We’d go and park somewhere and have lunch. Christ Church, Brandywine Creek park, anywhere we could sit outside and eat. Sometimes if it was lousy weather we’d just sit somewhere in my car and I’d give him pieces of roast beef while I ate my sandwich.

He had a special pink ball that he would guard while falling asleep in the hallway outside my office. He also had a bean bag “silvon” doll that he would throw around in the air. I always thought it appropriate.

George was the perfect road dog. Comfortable at any speed. However he had certain places on the way home where he always jumped up to check the surroundings.

The chime of a seatbelt not fastened will always remind me of him riding along with me.

In my old Jeep when Beth and I would go somewhere with him, he’d be delegated to the back seat. He would put his front legs up on the center console and stare straight ahead. If you looked at him, he’d stoically ignore you, even looking the other way. However, as soon as you looked forward, he’d look at you perhaps thinking “what the hell was that about?”

Nowadays when I drive him home, he makes himself comfortable in the front seat, resting his head on the console so he can look up at you and so you can take your right hand and scratch his back.

The vet.

I’ve never seen a dog vibrate so hard, so nervous, that hair would fly off his back.

George had a beautiful black nose till a reaction to a nasal Bordetella vaccination killed a bunch of cells and caused it to have a light gray center. I blamed the vet and the manufacturer for this. They both concurred it was a possibility, still cost me $200.

George’s love of tennis balls and toys defined his life. He could take the sound out of a squeaky toy in under an hour. His teeth were worn square by the roughness of tennis balls. He did break one tooth because of rough play.

I taught him to drop the ball between my feet each time he returned a ball. When we first started, Beth lived with her kids at Riveria Lane in Holiday Hills. I would visit to play ball with George. If he returned it wrong I would completely turn around ignore him. I wouldn’t play tug of war, nor would I try to take it from his mouth. He learned to place it perfectly. However, he and I would argue over this. He’d put the ball down outside my toes and I’d point and say “here!” and he’d bark and I’d point and he’d bark again and eventually, he’d pick the ball up and place it right between my feet. Sometime he’d make a grudging gruff half bark. But he’d always do it. Sometimes if he figured out the angles, he’d come running back at you and drop the ball 5, 6 or even 10 feet out where it would roll right to your feet.

For 6 weeks after I got married, Beth, Grace and George lived at my house on 36th street. There was a field directly across the from the house where we would play. George had a deflated soccer ball to play with. No matter how close you were, or what angle you set up to kick this floppy thing, he could snatch it from the air from 3 feet in front of you and place it right in front of you to do it again. This is important. George knew what direction you were going to kick a ball by what direction your leg went back.

When he was young, he’d play ball with you for hours. I kid you not, hours!

My favorite thing to do some nights while watching tv was to lie on the floor with him and roll a ball to him from maybe 2 feet away. He would either kick it back with his stubby legs or give it a long tougue lick, rolling it back to you. Doing this with him so close was thrilling because of the smile he’d always give while playing.

The cats tormented George.

Mikey would attack him, riding him like a tiger. Pouching out from around corners. Sometimes, Mikey would just cuddle up to a very embarrassed George on a chair.

Bob wanted to be George’s friend. Although I’d seen Bob do that multi pop swing at George, Bob always wanted to lie next to George. Bob would try to head butt George in the yard where George would get very embarrassed and try to change directions to avoid it. Bob would pace along side George. Running up the walkway side by side.

George had smarts that amazed me. He knew the sound of my computer closing down and would be up and ready to move to the next destination. He would beat you back to the front door, up the stairs, to my office, to the tv. He had to be first.

George was the cause of my big back explosion of Nov/Dec 2009. When picking George up, you’d just need to squat down, slap your leg and he’d half hop up on your leg letting you pick him up properly. Important for a long back dog. In mid November, I almost dropped him, sacrificing my back over dropping him. I don’t blame him at all.

Squirrels!

Yell that loud to George and lead the way around the house to the bird feeder. You’d only need to get to the corner where he’d look up at you and with the word, go flying around the big tree to assault the squirrels (and doves and other birds) and send them all flying. Afterwards, he’d come “strutting” back to you as proud as he could be.

I remember several times where the leaves around the base of the big tree were too high or snow was deep and the mission failed. To this day I wonder what he would have done if he’d caught a squirrel.