by Rick Bajackson
This week Jenn decided to end Wiley's suffering and have him put down.
What follows is excerpted from the book that I authored last year, LIFE WITH OUR GERMAN SHEPHERDS.
Wiley is a beautiful white GSD who obviously had a hard life before he was taken in by the rescue (All Shepherd Rescue in Maryland). Found by the side of the road, malnourished, and heartworm positive, Wiley ended up with us. And that was over three years ago.
So we got Wiley over his medical issues, leaving only one problem. Wiley doesn't like me. Every time he sees me, he tucks his tail between his legs and barks at me. Nothing personal. Now I had several GSDs throughout my life and never knew a shepherd who didn't like me. Now I do.
Jenn's father passed away a few years ago, and I got to take care of the "critters" while she helped straighten out her father's house in Louisiana. She said that Wiley would get used to me and everything would be all right. She erred by not telling Wiley that.
My duties included feeding the cats, which meant that to get to the cats -- remember Berin doesn't like cats -- I had to go through the addition. And that meant that Wiley would have a chance to run his favorite person out of the house. To say that Wiley is territorial is an understatement.
I finally decided to corner Wiley in Jenn's back room where he had access to her "dog door" and separate back yard. I put up a gate to keep Wiley from engaging yours truly, and used a tool that we use to clean the cobwebs off of the ceiling to shove Wiley's meals under the gate. Think about San Quentin and how they feed the prisoners.
Wiley and I lived like this for a few days before Jenn returned. I don't think that Wiley likes me. God help us if Jenn has to go into the hospital for anything. I wonder if the local hospitals will set up a dog bed for Wiley.
After getting through the heartworm issue, we found that Wiley had a neurological problem that affected his back legs. It was obvious to us that:
1. Wiley was a lot older than the shelter said (we figured at least ten to twelve).
2. If we wanted Wiley to have the life that every dog should, we'd have to adopt him. So we did and on August 27, 2014, Wiley became part of our family.
He enjoyed being out on the back deck, but his neurological problems weren't getting any better. This wasn't DM. I've dealt with that before but getting Wiley up and moving would soon be an issue. We got him walking by showing where I was standing and letting him come after me.
Wherever I went, Wiley followed, barking at me. As long as I moved faster than Wiley, I figured that I'd be all right.
However Jenn and I knew that the time was coming when Wiley would require a sling just to go out each day. We have a variety of German shepherd slings along with a custom-made cart amongst our supplies.
One thing was for sure: Wiley didn't want anyone putting a sling on him. He'd usually would allow Jenn to get a sling on him, but moving a seventy-five pound dog is not easy to do, particularly if the dog doesn't want to go where you want him to.
Jenn and I saw Wiley "going downhill" and finally he could no longer walk.
We've been here before, but with an elderly dog you never know whether you're keeping the dog around for his sake or yours.
As I write this, Wiley is no more.
But I had the chance to say "goodbye" right after he "went to sleep."
I ran my fingers through his coat, which I wanted to do for the three years that he was with us. But he wouldn't let me get anywhere near him.
I kissed the top of his head, but he didn't know that I was there. His eyes were "closed" for the final time.
Whatever terror that I unknowingly evoked in Wiley these past three years is finally gone.
I am sorry that Wiley and I couldn't be fast friends. I would have really liked that.
I'm sorry that just my appearance on my side of the back yard caused this guy to bark his head off.
I'm sorry that the best that I could do was to toss Milk Bones to Wiley each day.
I'm so sorry that someone in Wiley's past terrorized him to the point where we couldn't be fast friends in spite of my efforts.
But I am glad that we could provide the lifestyle that Wiley needed and deserved even if I wasn't included. Wiley was definitely part of my family, whether he knew it or not.
Wiley never knew that I loved him since he first came to live with us three years ago.
Rest in peace, Wiley.