I love to talk about past dogs I’ve worked with. If I’m not careful, I’ll talk until the listener’s eyes glaze. I can’t remember whom I’ve told what and a search of the blog didn’t come up with hits for Porter’s name. He might be on Invictus but there’s no search function on that blog (yet). In any case, records show very few people read Invictus even though some of my grittiest, best work appears there. I was in dark straights then…
Porter belonged to a town I formerly lived in. He would growl at anybody and if pushed, he’d show his teeth. To clean his pen, the ACO and her husband would go in with a large plywood board and back him into a corner. One of them would hold the board in place while the other would hurriedly clean, feed and water.
Best as I can guess, he was a lab/pit mix. His neck had an indelible mark from a collar; we suspected he’d grown up on a chain. He was aloof because as a pup, he’d never learned to socialize with humans. He had a short thick coat, was about 70 pounds, and very solid. (Though aggressive to people, he was afraid of Wally, who along with Zeus, was the hardest, most driven dog I’ve ever had.) I named him “Porter” after the Mel Gibson character in Payback because like that character, he struck fear in everyone.
In those days I was a trusted volunteer so the ACO gave me the go ahead to try to win him over. In a short time I was in his pen playing with him and a tennis ball. The story ends tragically because I didn’t have my own place and couldn’t take him. Yet we spent much of a grand two week vacation driving around, playing fetch, hiking and swimming. After that he still showed no improvement towards other humans. My girlfriend at the time went to his pen when I wasn’t there. She was a true dog person and he’d been friendly with her when I was present, but without me he showed teeth and growled.
The town couldn’t take the chance of adopting him out. Grudgingly I took him to be euthanized. These days, there would be so many more and better options. I’d have loved to keep him myself. Though he totally trusted me, he was the first dog that died in my arms. Euthanizing him made me feel like the black-hearted back-stabber that in effect I’d become. It’s so much harder to take the life of a young dog. Putting Porter down, and later Zeus, broke me up far worse than euthanizing old friends like Ty & Jonesy, who’d had full lives. With Porter, it was my lack of options, with Zeus it was at least partly my ineptitude that ended his life. Though I did not put Krikit down, his tragic story was similar.
The milksop consolation others told me is that I likely gave Porter the best two weeks of his life. I think that’s true but when I see photos of him, when I think back, I’d do anything to have him (or Krikit) back. Zeus I missed the most, but he also was by far the least trustworthy and most dangerous. In any case, in hard-eyed youthful glory, looking ready to bite, here’s Porter. I miss you, my friend, and I’m sorry!