The musings of a previously unemployed Jewish Freemason. I write about the job search, about Judaism, and about Freemasonry.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Job Hunting Again; My Dog Passes Away

I return to the corn portion of this blog, as my current job ends on May 13th, and I am now in very acute job-hunting mode. I have been at this current job since February of last year. I work in healthcare IT, and I get contacted by recruiters fairly often, including cold calls. I'm not too worried about my long term future, but I am taking the short term very seriously, and I am very eager to find an arrangement as soon as possible, be it temporary or permanent.

My remarkable Mastiff dog died eleven days ago, at the age of 9½. Those of you who know me know that I was absolutely devoted to him, and I am very heartbroken that he is gone. My dog, Hagrid, was a rescue. He was thrown out of his original home for showing signs of defensive aggression, where he was overprotective of the baby in the home. I found out the details when I adopted him. The family did not give him sufficient obedience training, and by the time he was a year old, he was very big (he was 205 lbs at death) and very headstrong and stubborn. They had a baby when he was a year old, and without external guidance, he took it upon himself to guard the baby at all costs. He would sleep outside the baby's door, with his nose jammed in the crack of the door so that he could smell her all night, with his paws pushed up against the inward-opening door to make sure that nobody got in. If anyone besides the parents walked down the corridor, he would bare his teeth and growl at them. There was one neighbor whom he never really liked, and after the baby was born, he would refuse to let the neighbor into the house. The family decided that he was excessively aggressive, and surrendered him to a Mastiff rescue. The dog was profoundly insulted and hurt to be rejected for doing what he thought was his job.

The woman who ran the Mastiff rescue was a 19 year old single mom with three kids, four cats, and eight Mastiffs running around a 30-acre farm in West Virginia. She had recently divorced, and had moved in with her father on his farm, and he had issued an ultimatum that she and the dogs had to leave. She was frantically placing all the dogs, except for my dog, whom she wanted to keep. She sent me his picture in case she had to give him up with the others, and I fell in love right away. It took me six weeks to convince her to give me the dog, and she ended up driving him to me in North Carolina herself. He was a year and a half old.

It took the dog, whom I renamed Hagrid, a while to realize that I was his forever owner and friend. I got him started on obedience training right away, and in three months, he received his Canine Good Citizen award from the American Kennel Club, and two months after that was a certified Therapy Dog through Therapy Dogs International. We worked with kids with Downs Syndrome, with emotionally disturbed girls at a residential facility, and we once worked with a severely burned child from the Shriners' Burn Hospital in Boston. I think he loved the Downs kids the best. Whenever he met a person with Downs Syndrome, his attitude would change and he would become very gentle and focused. He adored the kids he worked with, and I was very proud to show him off to others.

He followed me as I moved from North Carolina to Virginia, and from Virginia to Massachusetts, and we made friends wherever we went together. He was the big Totoro, the Chewbacca to my Han Solo, the Harvey to my Ellwood P. Dowd, the greatest wingman I've ever had. In North Carolina, you can go bar-hopping with your dog, and he was a regular at the Orange County Social Club in Carrboro. He was a big hit at the Grand Master's Fair in Charlton, MA, when I took him in 2009. When I moved in 2009, I deliberately moved to an apartment on the first floor, with only three front steps, as he was getting too old to climb several flights of stairs. Mastiffs live typically from six to eight years. Hagrid lived longer than I ever expected, and I was warned by other Mastiff owners that they decline very rapidly when it is their time to go. Hagrid fell apart over about a week, and had to be euthanized.

It's strange watching my daily routines change as I no longer have to feed and water him, and walk him. I don't have to shut the door to my bedroom to keep him from climbing into my bed and trashing it with hair and drool. I don't have to shut the bathroom door to keep him from sleeping in the bathtub or drinking out of the toilet. I don't have to put chairs on the couch to keep him from sleeping on the couch. But I miss him terribly, and I probably will for a very long time.

Rest in peace, Hagrid. You were as good a dog as you could possibly be, and I am awed by your life of service and generosity. I never really deserved a dog as magnificent as you, and I did everything I could to make myself worthy of you, until your last breath.