14 days ago, Karl was put down when he became too weak to stand up anymore. Over several months, he had become increasingly unsteady and debilitated; his symptoms were in some ways similar to Parkinson's. We had so hoped he would remain well enough to see his 14th birthday. His birthday was today. Today had long been our "candle on the horizon" for Karl.
Karl had been living with Jennifer Fry in Columbus since December. Jennifer first took care of him when I visited Sweden in the fall of 2008. He stayed with her again when I attended the Dachshund Club of America National events in October, 2009. Jennifer liked Karl very much. (He was a very likable guy.) In December, then, she asked if Karl could "come live in town at my house for the winter." I never got him back.
Karl received so much love and attention from Jennifer! I was grateful to her for taking such good care of him. At the same time, I wondered a little. I asked Jennifer why she was so willing to assume responsibility for a 13.5 year old dog like that. She said, simply, "Because he is family."
As a matter of fact, he was. Jennifer owns Karl's great-granddaughter Gretel.
So Jennifer had been planning a trip to visit the Knoll Family in Mississippi this summer. The dates of her visit coincided with Karl's birthday. We had wanted three things for Karl: 1. To be able to get photos of him with his extended southern family. 2. To be able to swim in their pool. (With some hand-under-the-belly assist from Laura.) Karl loved to swim! 3. And Jennifer wanted to have a combined birthday party for 'the three wise dogs', Karl and the Knoll's standard longhaired bitch Sherry and their Italian Greyhound Guido.
We had to settle for two out of three. Karl didn't get to go swimming...
He went with Jennifer to Mississippi in a box. But by gosh he went.
Photos were taken of the family. Stan called me on his cell this evening and put me on speaker phone. The bone-shaped birthday cake, iced and decorated by Anna, had 14 candles. They lit the candles. They all loudly sang Happy Birthday to Karl. I cried. It was all good.
"Family" indeed. What a blessing.
Stan gave Jennifer her present from Karl and me. She didn't know it but I'd had two photos of her and Karl made into 11x14s, mounted on heavy mount board, and sent to Mississippi for this occasion. It was Jennifer's turn for tears.
Karl, your candle remains lit for those of us who loved you.
ABS7 FC Karl Brink v Dorndorf L
DC Teckelhof's Perfidius x FC Ingrid v Dorndorf L CD
June 29, 1996 - June 15, 2010
In response to a call from Jennifer Fry, I left work mid-shift this evening and drove an hour and a half to her home in Columbus. Jennifer's instincts were right. It was time.
Karl was alert as ever. He greeted me with awesome enthusiasm though he lacked the strength to stand up. He licked me all the way to the vet's office, pointedly reminded the vet that she was forgetting his treats, then gently took some pieces she gave him from her hand. Every bit of his happy and healthy mental faculties were present and accounted for which made this all the more difficult, but the health and strength of his body had virtually wasted away.
Dr Callahan said that she has experienced this a number of times with Labrador Retrievers. "I have seen old labs whose bodies just couldn't work anymore but whose minds were still real sharp. That makes this even harder."
His passing was very peaceful. He died with that odd mixture of good humor and great nobility that has always been his.
Goodbye, my friend.
Through Marta, who is from the only litter Karl ever produced, he is the grandfather of all the Ns and Os v Dorndorf.
Many, many thanks to Jennifer Fry for taking wonderful care of Karl for his last six months.