Recently my husband and I had to say good bye to our beloved Gatsby. I really have had a hard time with letting him go. I described him one night as my Norman from the movie City Slickers. Remember Norman? He was the one thing that made life worth living for the main character played by Billy Crystal. Gatsby was my one thing! I miss him now and I will miss him forever. He really was the sweetest thing; looking up at you with those big brown eyes with nothing but unconditional love in his heart. When he laid down he always made sure he was somehow touching you: laying on your foot, along your leg, or his head in your arms. He loved walks, breakfast, dinner, filled shin bones, cuddling, and his belly rubbed.
Adopting Gatsby from the RAWL kennels on the base in Spain was one of the first things we did as a couple. We got him just a few months after we moved in together. The boy has been with us ever since. He has really been a big part of our family. We took him to the beach almost every time we went. When we would go over to friends houses Gatsby was invited too. He accompanied us on camping trips. He even went snorkeling with us in Canos de Meca since he wouldn't stay on the beach; dog paddling along beside us. We bought him a little kitten of his very own and they would snuggle on the blanket in the sun together. His kitty then just a cute little thing would lay on her back between Gatsby's paws clawing and biting at his jowls as they played.
When we moved to Rhode Island Gatsby moved with us, enduring a never ending flight from Spain to the US locked in his kennel. Rhode Island was the first time Gatsby saw snow. I have pictures of him with his front paws on the window sill watching the flakes fall and video of him bounding around outside in it. That sweet boy! Everyday Gatsby and I would brave the cold New England winter for our walk to the park. We did a lot of bonding in Rhode Island, Gatsby and me, we spent nearly every second of every day together.
Just as winter was starting to melt away we moved to Albuquerque. Driving cross country the boy sat in the passenger seat of the car next to me the whole time. We joked that Gatsby must have thought that this was a marathon trip to visit all the nice parks we could find because at every rest stop there would be huge grassy areas where we would take the boy out to run. In Albuquerque Gatsby visited his first Dog Park, he loved to jump and play with all the other dogs. He got along with anyone, human and canine. He came with us on many hiking trips around New Mexico, he loved to explore new places. He also never tired of chasing lizards in the backyard. He loved chasing them so much that while hunting one time he ran full speed into the cinder block fence breaking a tooth in half. Did you know that a dog can have oral surgery?
It was in New Mexico that we adopted our next dog, Goldberry, also known as the Bird. She was to be a young energetic friend to Gatsby to keep our aging boy young at heart. She delighted in punching Gatsby repeatedly on his behind until he would chase her. So that became their relationship; Gatsby the old man and Goldberry the harasser.
When we moved to Florida Gatsby and Goldberry made it through several days in their kennels in the bed of the truck. I remember just outside of Amarillo Texas I thought I was going to lose him. The weather was really bad, the radio was announcing Tornado warnings right where we were driving and the wind was almost gusting me off the road. I looked in the rear view window to see Gatsby's kennel lifting in the wind. I screamed that we were about to lose the boy and we pulled over to the side of the road, we could see the clouds spinning in circles over our heads. So here we were on the side of the interstate in the middle of a thunderstorm with tornadoes; strapping down the boys kennel so we could get the hell out of there. Poor boy, he must have been even more scared than me.
Our time in Florida together was great. The beach was so close that we walked on it almost everyday, sometimes even in the rain. The boy loved his walks, if you even picked up his leash he would start to wiggle his whole body and dance around you in circles. On the beach Gatsby loved to chase the crabs. He'd almost knock me down trying to get at them. Both him and Bird would dig holes to China trying to catch up with a crab that had darted quickly into his home. He caught a couple over the years, he seemed to enjoy them but it sounded kinda crunchy to me.
On the trip out to California Gatsby and Bird rode in the back seat of the truck. He would rest his front paws and head on the front armrest between us. We let him sleep in the bed at the hotels we stopped at and he would stay at our side all night long. Laying in the bed I would cuddle him, he would rest his head on my arm, and I would tell him how much I loved him. When we got to California one of the first things we did was take a walk on the beach. No crabs to chase but there were plenty of other smells to smell and waves to run in. He was a happy boy.
He lived with us 8 1/2 years of what we estimate to be a 10 year life. I still can't believe he's gone.