Cutest. Boy. Ever. I know, right? When my husband brought him home, I instantly fell in love. He looked like a stuffed animal that had come to life. He was so perfect both in looks and demeanor that we started calling him Proto-Puppy. He was soft, loved to snuggle and seemed to be in touch with a deep, eternal wisdom. Gazing into his eyes you could feel the unconditional love and sense that he knew all the mysteries of the universe.
Maybe most pet owners feel that way, but we knew our boy was special. He's a Swiss Mountain Dog and only about 100 Swissy puppies are born here in the U.S. every year. They're usually black, red and white, like their Bernese cousins. So Killian and his brother are Super Special Swissys, they may have been the only two red ones born in the country that year.
Even so, he almost didn't make it to his first birthday. Despite the perception that his soul was like Buddha's or Christ's, he was a demonic chewer. Furniture, moldings, blinds and socks were all eagerly loved by his rapidly growing maw. I came home from work one day to find a hole in the living room wall. There had been nothing special about that area, nothing sticking out, but he had managed to gouge it with a puppy tooth and got his chew on.
I have no doubt my, "NNOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooo!" was heard 'round the world. And he got the message. He stopped chewing. Even things he should have. Instead of gnawing on his chew toys, he swallowed two of them whole. He was just 6-months-old and he came very close to death. My husband was smart enough to realize this wasn't regular puppy sickness and rushed him to the emergency vet. It would be the first of many visits and surgeries. It got to the point that I asked the vet if we could implant a zipper the length of his belly so that we could just remove whatever he'd gotten his mouth on.
As he matured, the chewing stopped. As did the walking-around-the-Great-Room-
He left the ways of puppy-hood behind and became a breed ambassador. Since Swissys aren't well known in this country, we're always asked if he's a short-haired St. Bernard or a giant Beagle. We're happy to enlighten and he's happy to lean on the questioner and let them love on him. If he wasn't so giant and that tail wasn't a Weapon of Mass Destruction, he'd be the perfect therapy dog.
The funny thing is, I don't think he has any idea how huge he is. Any time we're at the dog park, he'll find the smallest dog he can and then he wants them to run so he can chase them. He's always gentle, but it freaks out some small dog owners.
We almost lost him again, this last Thanksgiving around midnight. He hadn't had any people food that day, just his regular diet, but you could see in his gentle eyes that something was horribly wrong. Another trip to the emergency vet. This time it was gastric torsion. Had we waited 10-minutes longer he'd have been stalking Chihuahuas and Boston Terriers in Hound Heaven.
Today we're celebrating his 8th birthday with special treats and new toys. He doesn't look a day over 3. As with all large breeds, his life expectancy is shorter than we'd like. Probably 12-years if we're lucky. Since we've come so close to losing him more than once, I savor every moment. Even covered in dog hair and nursing bruises from where his giant feet have stepped on mine, I can't help but adore him and be so grateful for all the love and laughs he's showered on us. He is pure joy wrapped in red and white fur. He is the Sweetest of Sweet Boys.
Since he can't live forever, even though he certainly deserves to, I'm immortalizing him in fiction. In my angel series, he is the model for the protagonist's faithful companion. She'll be able to heal him and extend his happy life well beyond the norm. In the first book in the series, "Sleep in Heavenly Peace," he'll play a pivotal role in keeping the forces of evil from destroying humanity. Killian seems okay with that. It's hard to tell. The words "novel" and "character" don't seem to strike the same chord as "walk," "dinner" and "treats."
It sure would be cool if he's still around to play his literary alter ego in the movie. Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy. Shine on.