As is typical, we really weren't looking to add another dog to the family when we got Blake. We had four dogs at the time and things were stable. But I had contacted the local Sheltie rescue because there appeared to be a sheltie-mix on the website for a local animal shelter. I wanted to make sure they knew it was in the shelter. Turns out it wasn't a sheltie, but I was told there was a pure bred sheltie at the shelter and they wouldn't release him to the rescue. Knowing the extremely high euthanasia rate for the shelter, Carrie and I decided to go see the Sheltie. And knowing my love for shelties, the rest, as they say, is history.|
We went to see this sheltie and as shelties are prone to be, he was a little distance at first. But I got down on the floor with him and he started to warm up. I knew I could not leave him in the shelter and risk him being put down, and I think Carrie knew that too. Plus, our two current shelties -- Barclay & Bonnie -- were seniors and we both suspected that they might not be with us too much longer. And one rule I have is that we will ALWAYS have a Sheltie in the house. So while they were still in decent health, now might be a good time to bring in another sheltie. At least, it made sense to me. And so we added a new family member.
The shelter told us that this boy was about 2-3 years old, but they were just guessing. When we took him in for his first grooming, the groomer (who has raised & bred shelties for 20 years) said he looked older -- probably about 8-9. We ended up settling in between and made him about 5-6.
Now what about a name? Since he wasn't an owner surrender, the shelter didn't have a name for him. We tried for several days to call out every male name we could think of, but our boy never responded to any. So as has become our family ritual for naming shelties (Barclay, Bonnie, Brody & Beau), we picked one that began with the letter "B" -- Blake! And so began our nine year journey with Mr. Blake.
Over the years, most of our dogs have pretty much accepted both Carrie & I as equals. However, at least for the first few years, I think it is safe to say Mr. Blake was definitely "my dog". I don't know exactly why, but Blake bonded very quickly to me. And while we have never had an aggressive sheltie before, Blake would quickly let someone know if he thought you were getting to close to me. Whenever Carrie would kiss me or hug me, Blake let her know in no uncertain terms that he was not happy -- barking and growling. Blake never bit Carrie, but for the first year or two, she wasn't too sure that he might not.
Blake also wasn't big on strangers. A few weeks after we got him, we had a pest control company out to do some spraying. As the guy came inside, all five dogs came up to greet him. As were wagging and barking and no one thought there was any trouble until suddenly there was a "chomp"! Blake had bit his hand. Luckily, the guy was wearing super thick gloves and it didn't hurt him. But we realized that we were going to have to watch and control Blake among strangers. We saw further evidence of Blake's protection mode when the lawn company came by to mow. Blake would see them through the window and bark & leap & spin. And if you've heard the term "bite your face off", then you know exactly what Blake was wanting to do. Blake was a very sweet boy -- except when he thought dad was threatened. But as the years went by, Blake mellowed. And the last few years we could take him out to public events and he loved to just roam & mingle -- with not a snarl or growl to be seen or heard!
After the first few years, Blake came to realize that Carrie wasn't there to hurt me. And after that, he ended up being Carrie's "boyfriend". He loved it when Carrie would pick him up and hold him in her lap. Or lay in the recliner with her while both of them snoozed.
After Barclay & Bonnie passed, Blake became the Big Boy of the house. He was the Number One sheltie, and dad's favorite. When we first got him, he loved it when I got down on the floor and played with him. He would bark and growl, but always playful. And when he caught my hand, he would never bite down on it. As he got older, we played less & less. But when we brought Bear into the family 3 years ago, he was the one who taught Bear how to play. Unfortunately, Bear grew far too big for Blake (Blake was about 25 lbs & Bear became 90 lbs). But every once and awhile, the two would still partake in a few playful rounds.
The past few years, we could see the changes taking place in Blake. His hair was turning white, he was slowing down and both his vision & hearing were going. He preferred mostly to be left alone by the other dogs (I think they moved too fast with his diminished vision). And he slept more & more. But he was still my Big Boy, and he loved to eat. And if he heard or saw something outside, he could still race out and jump & spin & bark. Of course, he would then come in limping because he pulled something trying to do too much.
In the summer of 2015, Carrie and I thought that Christmas 2015 might be Blake's last. Despite eating pretty well, he was still losing weight and sleeping more & more. Then in August, he stopped eating. Through the work of the dedicated staff at McGehee Clinic, we were able to pull him through. Blake started eating again and was in pretty good shape when Christmas and New Year arrived. But we knew he was on borrowed time. And in March, he totally stopped eating once again. And despite all our best efforts, things just kept getting worth. He had given us too much love and devotion over the years for us to watch Blake suffer, so on March 18th, 2016, we helped him pass over. Carrie & I held him, petted him, kissed him and told him how much we loved him as we said our final goodbye to our Big Boy.
Over the past 22 years, Carrie & I have had our fair share of furkids -- we currently have 6 (4 dogs & 2 cats) and we're lost 8 (6 dogs & 2 cats). But it is never easy to say goodbye. Blake had nine years with us and he lead a full & wonderful life. When the final day came, I could see it in his eyes that it was time. But it is still devastating to say goodbye. Blake filled a special place in my heart -- and he always will. Rest easy, my Big Boy. Your Daddy loves you. Mom misses her Boyfriend. We love you Blake!
*March 18, 2017 Hello, Big Boy. It is so hard to think that it has been a year since we said goodbye. I still think of you so very often. Of all the pups we have had over the years, you were the one who bonded so close, and so quickly, with me. And if anyone ever threatened me, I always knew you would be the first to leap in and protect me. You were such a loyal, loving lad. Dad loves and misses you so so much. Rest easy Blake. Love, Dad.