Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Napoleon est Mort

Yesterday I had to put my beloved terrier Napoleon to sleep after about a month of being sick and a steep decline in his health over the weekend. I wouldn't wish that vet experience on anyone; I would call it very traumatic, and I spent most of yesterday morning sobbing my heart out, the same heart that this little dog quickly made his way into when he was a tri-color puppy 13+ years ago.

I got home last evening and the reality that this little face was not eagerly waiting looking for me started to set in. No dog to be with us in the evening, no dog to let out or take for a walk this morning. Napoleon was just a puppy when I moved back to New York City the last time, and he loved to play in the Hudson (if it were clean!), not to mention go to the beach here and run into each wave and dig like crazy in the sand. He and I were out for our walk on 9/11 and just missed the first plane, but he went nuts when we heard the second plane hit; that told me something big was up. He stayed outside with me and saw the towers fall, and he was my sole companionship for the next few days when the city was in lockdown.

As a pup he was very active, running laps around the house and running alongside me as I rollerbladed for miles. But as he got older, he was pretty mellow at home, and was my steady companion, following me room to room or laying down nearby in the sun if I were working in the garden. People and things come and go in your life, but you can always count on the unconditional love of your dog! I think it's safe to say that little dog lived to be with me; if he were home or at the kennel or in the car, he was always watching intently for my return, and no matter if it was 5 minutes or a week, he was crazy happy to see me come back! He was also a great little Houdini dog, able to get through several locked doors or out a high window; a few months ago I was working outside; he had escaped and just came up to me and lay down right next to me where I was working in the yard; just wanted to be with me....

Of course Napoleon lived up to his name; he was a terror to strangers at the house, and he didn't like tapping feet under the tables; it reminded him too much of a rat or a rabbit, I guess. He could go into a down-stay in front of a piece of food for 10 minutes if that's what I told him to do, but if there was something moving unexpectedly somewhere, all bets were off; instinct kicked in. And then of course there were other times, like when he locked me out of my running BMW at the Palisades park; he had stepped on the door lock and I was running around the car trying to get him to step on it again to open the door. People came over to help me and he was just going crazy that I was outside with strangers. And of course the time I came down the street in SoHo to see Napoleon ripping down the headliner of my parked Jeep; someone had their face to the window and he was just in a frenzy in the car. That was my crazy little Napoleon...

But to our immediate family, he was a little "racer dog" as a puppy, an expressive little clown who could walk across the room on his hind legs, and a dog with an extensive vocabulary of a few hundred words, at least. Just say the words "beef jerky" (his favorite treat from Dad) and he would lick his lips and be up off his bed. He was the smartest and most manipulative dog we've ever had; totally unlike our previous dogs, though he also caused the most trouble of any of our dogs. I remember when he was trained by Dan in NJ; he told me this was a super tough little dog; he "could have trained 10 dogs in the same amount of time;" but train he did, a series of hand and verbal commands that Napoleon could execute to perfection for his whole life.

I hope to find a new puppy in the next few weeks; the best therapy for losing a dog is getting a new one, I think, though I will get a female and one that can go to the markets with me. My little Napoleon will always be in my heart; rest in peace my sweet little puppet dog....

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