My Buddy, Darwin the Amazing Border Collie

1993 - 2:07 am May 18, 2009

Below are memorable stories, pictures and some videos of my best buddy, Darwin. 

Darwin is a border collie that was abandoned by his owners at my parents' rental property in October 1994 when he was most likely about a year old.  Some neighbors were throwing over scraps once in a while, but mostly he was all alone outside with no shelter for several weeks.  After discovering him at the house, my parents brought him home and asked me to help find him a home somewhere else because he was a shedding dog and a male (two things we never had in our household before).  Since the day we brought him home, I knew I could never give him up---one of the first memories I have of him is the way he would run up to me and wrap his front legs around me, just like he was giving a hug.  I'd never seen a dog do that before.  I decided I would keep him since I was going to be moving into my own house soon.  I decided to call him Darwin since he was a survivor (being left all alone scrounging around for anything he could possibly eat).  Little did I know that he would truly live up to his name.  Darwin was with me since the first day I moved out of my parents' and into my new house, so I was never truly alone.  He was the best watchdog anyone could ever have, never letting anyone in without my approval (and sometimes it was still difficult to get them in the door).  But once my friends were inside, he was the most loveable dog you could imagine, wanting non-stop affection.  It seriously was 10 years before I ever saw this dog sleep---he didn't want to miss out on any action.  No matter what I was doing, he wanted to be there.  Of the five dogs that have enriched my life, he is the most intelligent, most loving dog I've ever had.  He was so much like a person that it was as if he were my son.  The loss of him has been more painful than the loss of any person in my life thus far.

Despite the vet's recommendation of euthanasia, Darwin recovered from a near-death case of tick paralysis and lived another 5 years afterward.

If you are a dog-owner, please read our story and be sure to protect your pets against ticks.  And don't give up hope if your dog has already been affected!

Darwin's Recovery from Tick Paralysis 

 

 

Memories of Darwin

Darwin was a very quirky dog, always picking up new habits and abandoning the old.  He loved to keep it interesting.  These are some of the memories I have of him from different times:

  • I remember when I first got him and he wouldn't go up the stairs into my bedroom at my bungalow because he didn't like my beaded curtains at the bottom of the stairs.  He would get really upset when I went up there, or if any of my friends tried to follow me.  He'd nip at your heels and try to keep you downstairs.  Eventually this funny habit subsided---he stopped being afraid of the beads and he was fine with going upstairs.  I would often find him in my bed or on the floor of my room upstairs while I was at work.

  • As a younger dog, he sure loved leather.  He used to tear up many pairs of my sandals and even a nice pair of Doc Martens.  Then he transitioned to milk cartons.  It was the strangest thing---I bought him all these fancy toys, but he would rather toss around and chew on a milk carton.  Whenever I was engaged in conversation with someone and he thought he was being ignored, he'd crash around with his milk carton (which had to be replaced every few days after becoming so twisted that he would cause his gums to bleed by chewing on it) and there was no way you could avoid giving him attention because it was so funny.  Another favorite "game" of young Darwin's was to go after your feet (but only if you directed him to).  He would bite at your foot as you moved it from side to side while growling.  Probably not the best habit for him to get into, but every guy I had over seemed to love to do this with him.  Over time, like many of Darwin's habits, this game faded too.

  • For the first five years or so of his life with me, he only ate his food when I was eating.  If I made up dinner for myself and was eating it in the kitchen, he would start eating his food at the same time.  If I didn't eat at home on a certain day, he sometimes didn't eat his food either!
  • He always knew how I was feeling.  If I was sad, he would come and comfort me.  If I was nervous because of where I was going, he would smell the backs of my knees and sense my anxiety.  Sometimes, he would sense it so strongly that he wouldn't want me to leave the house and would growl and stick his head in the door and not let me close it.  He must have figured that if I felt that way about whatever I was doing, I shouldn't be leaving.
  • Different people had different names for him.  He was also known as Dar, Buddy, Buddy Darwin, Buddy-boy, Dar-kee (mom), Dar-bo (dad), Darwin Good-boy (Brian), G-Dawg (me).
  • He was such a hyper dog that when he had to go outside, he would jump super high while at the landing.  I couldn't believe how high he'd go.  Then he'd dart outside and find a good spot.  I remember that we thought we could settle him down some by getting him neutered---that didn't slow him down one bit---in fact, even with the surgery, I couldn't get him to stop running circles around the garage which involved sliding under a gate and running through a narrow strip between the garage and the neighbor's fence.  It was crazy how fast he'd do those laps.  For the most part, he was always good about coming back and not wandering when he was let outside.  I'd never had a dog that was so well-behaved before.  Our other dogs would take off at the first opportunity---in fact, we once lost Heather and Sweeties like that, but luckily they stayed together and someone took them up to the corner K-Mart where a neighbor recognized them as our dogs. 
  • Most dogs don't like vegetables, but he really had a thing for spinach.  Whenever I made a spinach dish, I would remove the stems and veiny part of the leaves.  Darwin would wait right beside me for each leaf to be cleaned, then I'd throw him the stem.  Most of the time, he was pretty good at catching them, and he loved crunching them up.  He'd eat 30 stems or more sometimes!
  • He thought his name was "he's" because every time a person said something, i.e., "he's wagging his tail," Darwin would hear the word, "he's" and immediately perk up, knowing he was the one being talked about.
  • Darwin was funny when taken on walks.  He would always prefer to walk on the grass rather than the sidewalk.  You'd see him zigzag from the grass to the driveway sidewalk, then back to the grass again at the next house.  It was quite a sight.  He also had funny habits in the snow.  He hated stepping in the snow, so we had to shovel him a path.  Even still, he would prefer to urinate on the driveway rather than step in snow.

  • Darwin would do a "tapdancing" routine for food that was so funny---prancing around, doing spins, and tapping his feet when he was about to be fed.  And the funny thing about his eating habits was that when I got him, for years, he would only eat his food when I was eating my food.  So if I ate out somewhere and he didn't see me eat, he sometimes wouldn't eat that night, even if I tried to direct him toward his food.  One of his other favorite snacks were "Meaty Bones."  You could just say the word "meaty" and he would start looking toward the cabinet where they were kept.  If you were in a different room from the bones, he would run down the hall and try to direct you that way.  Another interesting thing about Darwin's eating habits is that he would clean his mouth after eating.  He would rub his mouth and teeth on his paws and then lick any food particles up off his paws.  He would go on like this sometimes 15 minutes.
  • One of the reasons Darwin could "tapdance" was because he was terrible at letting us cut his nails.  He would bite if he wasn't muzzled up, and that was a task in itself.  Usually, he was a very sweet dog, except for this.  The funny thing was that once his muzzle was on, he acted ridiculous.  He would act like he couldn't walk and would lay down and stay there.  Then while you cut each nail, he would make a biting motion that was pretty scary, even though you knew he couldn't bite through the muzzle.  For many years, he also wouldn't let his feet be touched, especially the front ones.  He would always pull them away or nip at you if you tried to touch them.

  • Unlike many dogs, Darwin loved to get a bath.  All I had to do was say the word and he'd actually jump in the tub and wait for me, even if I took 5 minutes to get all the supplies together.  I tried to be careful and not say the word until I was ready, but he would even see me getting his bath items together.  As soon as the bath mat went down, he was in the tub.
  • One short-lived habit of Darwin's was pretty special.  For a year or so sometime after recovering from tick paralysis, when I would get up in the morning before him, he would then wake up and come into the den and "ask" for his hugs.  Then once he got his morning hugs, he was off on his way to do his own thing for a while.  Another habit he had around this time period was pretty funny---at this time, he could no longer go up the stairs on his own, so if you asked him, "Do you want to go upstairs?", he would growl at you.  Sometimes it was a really long, funny sounding growl. 
  • Darwin once licked up some spilled coffee on the floor and seemed to enjoy it.  Brian and I made the mistake of giving him a small dish.  Next thing we know, he is defecating like crazy.  He must have been in the "pooping posture" for like an hour, still trying to go when there was nothing left.  Talk about a laxative.  Wow, never give coffee to a dog.
  • One time I came home and could not find him anywhere.  I looked all over the house.  Finally, I found him behind the furnace.  This was a location he had never explored and I never did figure out what made him decide to go back there.  It was a very unusual day.
  • Darwin had mild epilepsy that changed somewhat over the years.  When he was young, he'd have seizures where he'd look like he was staring into space and not seeing what was here.  He'd tremble somewhat and then be all groggy and unable to walk properly for about an hour afterwards.  When he got older, the seizures changed to motor seizures and he would sometimes take off running and not really "see" where he was going.  He'd run into corners and crazy places he would never go if he knew what he was doing.  One would have to try to catch him and hold him while his legs kept pumping until he stopped having the seizure.  When Darwin slept, he almost always had something moving---either a paw was bouncing up and down, or an entire leg was moving, or sometimes he'd just have whole-body twitches that would often awaken him and prevent him from getting decent sleep.  Darwin also twitched almost every time he was touched.  I was never sure if this was due to the epilepsy or if he could just never get over some kind of abuse that took place before I met him that he was reminded of every time someone went to touch him, even me.
  • There wasn't much that Darwin hated in life.  I can only think of four things:  chain-like sounds, thunderstorms, the 4th of July, and skunks.  Any kind of clinking metal that sounded like a heavy chain would really bother him in the beginning, sometimes sending him into the basement to hide.  I think he was probably beaten with chains or something.  This nervousness seemed to subside over several years.  Also since I met him, he had trouble with thunderstorms.  Luckily, it faded somewhat over time, but never completely.  I think it must be from the bad memories of being left in the cold with no shelter during such storms.  When a storm came, you could find Darwin hiding in the bathroom against the tub near the farthest corner.  In his younger days, he was so scared that he would tremble.  I think he hates the 4th of July because it sounds so much like a storm, with all the booming.  He exhibited the same behavior during the evening of the 4th as he did during a storm.  As far as skunks go, Darwin didn't know he hated them until one bad evening about halfway through his life.  He must have gotten too close to one in the backyard because when I went to let him in from outside, he was frothing at the mouth, freaking out, shaking his head, etc.  He smelled like a fire-cracker, so I thought somehow he must have gotten one in his mouth and it went off or something.  Eventually, we realized that this was just what a skunk spray smelled like up close and that he had been sprayed in the mouth.  I tried the homemade remedies I found online, tomato juice, baking soda, who knows what else.  Nothing could remove that stench but time.  For about 2 months, my house smelled quite skunky---probably the time it took him to grow in new fur.  From then on, whenever there was a skunk outside, Darwin was the first to inform us by acting very nervous.  At first, I would never know why, because it usually took me another 5-10 minutes to smell the skunk odor coming into the house.
  • The last few years of his life, he got finicky about his food.  We found something he loved though---garlic!  He even learned the word.  If he wouldn't eat his food, we would say "Darwin wants his garlic" and he'd get excited as we got out the garlic powder and sprinkled some on his food.  Then he'd eat it, no problem.
  • When Darwin first started falling and wasn't able to get up, it was rather worrisome because he would get upset and distraught and would snarl and nearly bite the person trying to help him.  Eventually, he realized that this was how things were going to be and he grumbled for a while, but stopped acting like he might bite.
  • When I was in the process of moving into the new house, Darwin would ride in the car with Brian back and forth if we were going to be there for a while.  We were also trying to get him used to the new place rather than just all of a sudden making the move.  In his younger days, he would ride in the car to my parents' house if I was going on a camping trip or something.  He always seemed very excited.  Of course, Heather and Sweeties were there for some of his life, so that was his only interaction with other dogs.  Usually, about a mile or two before our arrival, some smell must have triggered him and he knew we were going to my parents'.  He would start howling and whining and getting all excited.  The first thing he'd do when we got there is bolt out of the car, run up to the front of the house, mark his territory, get let in the house, go out the back door and mark his territory in the backyard too.  On the way home, he'd also sense the arrival a few miles early, make lots of noise in the car before we got there, and run into the backyard to mark his territory.  However, as he reached old age, he didn't like car rides so much.  When he rode with Brian, he was almost unbearable on some occasions, howling and whining for 20 minutes at a time.  I'm not sure why that changed.  Thinking back, maybe it jostled him too much and could have hurt him.
  • Darwin was very helpful to me when Brian would fall asleep and should have been getting work done.  If I told Brian to "Get up!", Darwin would run in the room and bark at him.   Brian would have to finally get up because Darwin wouldn't quit until he was up.  Darwin still would sometimes nip at Brian's feet after he got up and he was walking out of the room, as if to say, "C'mon, get moving!"  It was great---this method was foolproof.

Photography of Darwin

Click on each thumbnail to see the larger picture.

Make sure to notice the black heart in the fur on his right side!

 

1994

My family acquired Darwin in October 1994 after he was abandoned by his owners.  This is his first photo.  He is holding a note in his mouth that says "I need a home".  We were planning on finding him a home, not keeping him, since he was a shedding dog and we have never had that type before.  He was also a male, and my parents always preferred females because of the urinating on shrubs and such.

 

For several months, he lived with me at my parents' house with our other two dogs.  The first shows Sweeties, Darwin and my mom.  The second picture shows Darwin in back, Heather in the middle, and Sweeties in the front, obviously begging for something.  The third shows Darwin and Sweeties hanging around while I do my homework.

 
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Here he is in my kitchen.

 
   
 

The first six photos were from a black and white white roll.  All were taken at my house, in late 1994.

   
 
     
 
 

1995

He completely obliterated this Santa toy.

 
 

1996

 

Here is Darwin with Sweeties at Christmastime.

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1998

Here is Darwin with Sweeties at Christmastime.

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Here are a few of Darwin in the kitchen.  The first one was scanned on a previous scanner.

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1999

Here is Darwin at my house in the kitchen.  These were scanned on different scanners.

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January 2000

Darwin and me.

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2002

Here is Brian showing Darwin some love, and vice versa.

     

 

 

August 2003

 

 

 

September 2003

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2004

April

Here is Darwin resting in the Den, looking handsome.

 
   
 

Sniffing and yawning...

 
 

Darwin getting riled up and snarly.

 
 
 
 

May

Here is Darwin in May, just before becoming afflicted with tick paralysis.

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July

Here he is in July with Brian, recovering from tick paralysis.  His tail has been cut short because I thought he was going to die on the day the vet told me to put him to sleep, so I saved all his beautiful fur.

   

 

August

He is pretty much back to normal now, except that his tail fur needs to grow in.

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2005

February 2005.

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Darwin loved to lay in the sunlight patterns in the den.  Here he is on a weekend morning in March 2005.

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2006

 

March 18, 2006

I was actually photographing one of my cypress knees, but Darwin happened to be right there.

April

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  July 3, 2006

Testing out my new macro lens on Darwin's eye...

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August 22, 2006.

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September 2, 2006.  Enjoying the fresh air in the backyard after a bath.

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2007

On November 15, 2006, Darwin developed a growth on his chin.  It started to break open his skin and bleed, so it had to be removed.  I thought everything was going to be fine, but unfortunately, the growth grew back.  This time, it was underneath the skin and was even larger than before.  On March 13, 2007, Darwin went in for a second surgery.  Much of his lower lip also had to be removed.  He looked like a horror show, but I know the doctor did his best to try to seal the huge wound.  On March 18th, Brian discovered another similar-looking growth on his leg.  It seems as though it is most likely a cancer that is spreading.  He also coughs a lot.  I think it might be possible that he also has a growth in his throat.  In any case, he's not doing very well, but he still tries to remain in good spirits despite all he is going through.  Here are a few photos of him the day after his second surgery on March 14, 2007.

 
 
 
Darwin seems to be healing well about four weeks later.  Here he is resting on his favorite corduroy bed on April 10, 2007.
 
   
   
     
     

 

 

Darwin in 2008

Darwin has been doing well in 2008, but is old (about 14 1/2) and spends a lot of time sleeping.  He can't make even the few stairs down the landing to go outside anymore though and must be carried down.  He can climb up with assistance though.  Here he is laying around on February 10, 2008.

 

 
 

Darwin laying on his favorite corduroy bed in the den on February 19, 2008.

   
     
 
 

Resting in the guest room (his tick paralysis recovery room that he started sleeping in regularly even after recovering) on April 17, 2008.

   
   
 

Lounging around on April 20, 2008.

 
   
 

May 15, 2008.

 
 

May 31, 2008.

 

June 10, 2008.

   
 

Sleeping in a funny position on July 8, 2008.

 
   
 
 

August 28, 2008 with toad #124.  Darwin is a very gentle dog and never goes after any small animals like some dogs. 

He has always been very respectful of all my small pets.  On his head is one of the toads I was cataloguing for my Wild Detroit Toads page.

     
 
 
 

September 1, 2008.  Sleeping in a funny position in the guest room.

   
 
 
 
 

Darwin in 2009

Darwin is about 15 1/2 years old now and needs a lot of help getting around.  Here are some photos of him in front of the 2008 Christmas tree on January 1, 2009.

     

     

     

       

   

   

       

 

Here he is asleep in his very own room at the new house on 1-18-09.

   

 

Darwin's Last Smile

Sadly, Darwin cannot walk unassisted anymore.  For the last 5 days, he has only had about 2 cups of food.  We've tried every kind of gourmet and home-cooked meal we can think of.  He will only drink water.  He is near the end.  On May 14, 2009, I got really sick with some kind of cold and had to stay home from work.  It was probably a good thing I was sick because he doesn't have too many days left and I haven't seen him "smile" in many days, maybe months.  That was, until today.  I decided to bring him up to my room to rest since I needed to be up there and didn't want to leave him alone.  He'd never been on my bed before.  He looked like he was actually smiling, so I had to grab the camera.

     

On Friday morning, Brian said that he was crying before he left for work and was laying near Darwin and he put his head up and licked his tear off.  He was such a sweet dog.  By the time I came home from work that day, he seemed like he may have a respiratory infection as he was having some mucous in his nose and his breathing was rather labored.  I was almost convinced I should take him in to be euthanized that night because I didn't want him to suffocate and die like that, but then Brian was able to clear some of it out and help his breathing.  Even though we didn't take him in that night, we had both decided that we cannot let him suffer anymore and I looked into some places to call on Saturday morning.  We tried to get someone to come out to do a home euthanasia (as I don't want to traumatize him by the car ride and being at the vet), but they couldn't do anything until Monday morning.  So at this time, it had been decided that Monday, May 18, 2009 will be Darwin's last morning.  It was good that he made it through Sunday because Saturday was raining all day, but we got to spend the most beautiful Sunday afternoon with him...

 

Darwin's Last Afternoon

I thought it would be a nice idea to take him outside one last time since he hadn't been out but a few times over the winter.  It was only about 58 degrees Fahrenheit, but rather sunny, so it felt nice.  After Brian laid him on the blankets and pillows, he went right to sleep.  He loved being out in the sun patterns.  He used to sleep in the patterns on the floor in the den at the old house.  I always loved the photos from these times and I thought these natural ones I took today turned out quite nice, considering they were some of the most difficult photos I have ever taken and I could barely see what I was photographing through the tears.

     

     

     

       

     

     

   

   

   

     

 

Darwin's Last Night

Darwin's last night was partially spent in the family room with Brian and me as we tried to watch something on TV, but it was too difficult to concentrate, and Darwin was rather agitated and vomited a couple times.  He also defecated, but it was more like bile since he hadn't eaten a real meal in so long.  However, he did eat more today than the last 5 days or so---we think that may have caused his stomach to get upset.  Anyhow, we ended up moving him to his normal bed and tried to get him comfortable, but he kept softly whining.  His gums had turned almost completely white after the second time he vomited and stayed that way.  He had two small seizures.  Right around this time, the story I wrote when I was 7 years old came into my mind---it was about a dog with wings.  I remembered how quick and agile Darwin used to be when he was young.  Then I pictured him with wings.  I told him in my mind to fly away with his wings and that it was ok to stop breathing.  His breathing was labored and he was mostly using his mouth to breathe.  He had another seizure that made his eyes get jittery.  Then he suddenly looked straight ahead and then his eyes were no longer looking at this world.  I could feel a faint heartbeat and he appeared to still be trying to breathe, but without success, although it was just his body going through the motions.  You could tell his eyes could not see what was happening.  Brian and I were right there beside him for the whole thing and talked to him gently until he stopped moving.

It was a strange night because I knew he needed to die and I was ready to do it for him this morning first thing by having the home euthanasia vet come out.  I really didn't want to make that decision, so I was so happy that Darwin made it for me instead.  Today was a special date (if you know me well enough, you know that I add up the numbers of every important date to arrive at one number) that added to 7.  I really wanted him to die on a 3- or 7-day.  And he did.  The time was good too:  2:07 a.m.  I have always believed that 9's are magic, and it completes the third 9 needed in his special date:  5-18-2009 (it has the 5 + 2 to make the 7, plus the two 9's: the one there already and the 8 + 1).  Darwin was a magic dog, and left this world with a magic ending.  I'm so glad he didn't have to die alone---that was one of the things I worried about most.  I hope someday I will see him again.

He was taken to be cremated (the first time I've ever done this with a pet) and his remains will be kept in this beautiful urn glazed in a copper matte raku by William Turner, in the room of my house I used to call the "pet room", but now it is called "Darwin's room".  To his left is the Vegetanimal Woodburning I made, with tufts of his tail fur coming out of sea urchins.  Above the Vegetanimal is an original watercolor by my friend, Robin Street.  I also kept cuttings from the "heart" on his right side that I hope to someday turn into a Lifegem when I get enough money saved.  I washed and cut his tail fur in sections and preserved most of it so that it can be used for some very special works of art someday.  I was surprised by my strength to be able to do this after he had died, and my ability to drive him to the funeral home after everything had happened.  There was a bright, crescent moon in the sky with a bright shining planet or star to its right.  A nice, clear sky.

The day of the 18th was another beautiful, sunny day, so luckily no dreary conditions to make things feel even worse.  This was the first day of my entire life that I have been without a dog.  All of my previous dogs had overlapped one another, so even from the day I was born, there was a dog in my life.  I tried my best to be happy that Darwin was no longer suffering and be grateful for all the years we had together and the memories that will never be forgotten.  At this time in my life, I have never even lost a person that I have cared about this much.  To me, Darwin was a person, and a much better one than many.  I know he will continue inspiring hope and love in others for as long as I can continue sharing his memory.

     

 
 

Click here to see Youtube Videos of Darwin

 

 

Life without Darwin

The morning that Darwin died, I had never even gone to bed.  I wasn't able to get any sleep until about one in the afternoon that day.  Still, I only slept 3 hours.  Then, I couldn't sleep at all that night, not even a single minute.  I had to go to work the next day too.  After that long day was over, I figured I would come home and take a nap, but I still couldn't sleep.  I didn't fall asleep until about 2 a.m. and had to be up at 5.  The best thing was that Darwin was there at the end of my dream and I was able to remember the ending clearly.  I was in my old house late at night and hanging out with some girl I don't know in real life.  We saw some kind of motion out the window, some shadows or something across the street near the side of a neighbor's house.  She opened the front door and walked out onto the porch to take a closer look.  We thought the shadows looked like people, but they seemed to be just shadows with no substance.  Then, I noticed that Darwin was laying out there on the porch by himself (something he never did when I had him).  At this point, the storm door was closed and my friend was outside.  I opened the storm door to let Darwin inside because I was feeling nervous about what those shadowy people were and wanted to keep him safe.  He got up and went to come inside, but just then, my alarm went off and woke me up.  It continues to bother me because I wanted to see what he looked like and what would have happened next.  He appeared only in shadows, but I knew it was him while I was having the dream.  After this dream, I haven't had any more with Darwin in them.  I thought it was interesting that he was totally fit once again and had no trouble walking or anything.  And when I was having the dream, it was like he never died and was the same as always and just part of everyday life.

I thought it was nice that somehow, there was sunshine for 8 days straight since he died that Monday morning.  The following Tuesday was the first cloudy day.  There was no rain until Wednesday, the 9th day without him.  By then, the gloomy weather didn't bother me as much as it would have in the beginning.  Before Darwin died, it was rainy or cloudy at least every three days or so.  I don't remember having 8 straight days of sunshine for quite a long time, maybe even years.  After that 8-day stretch, it was rain every 2-3 days again as normal.

On the weekend following Darwin's passing, Brian and I selected some of our favorite photos to put in a special memorial display.  I resized them, printed them and mounted them in the frames.  Since Darwin lived most of his life in the kitchen of the new house, I always expect to see him there and it has been very difficult to keep walking into the empty kitchen and then remembering.  I decided to put his display in a prominent corner of the kitchen, right by the doorwall.  It helps to see his smiling face in the corner all the time while I'm in there.  His urn now holds his ashes in what we used to call the "Pet Room," but now it's "Darwin's Room."  His ashes came in an engraved wooden box.  I decided to keep some of his fur and some photos in there.  It is also displayed in his room.  His collar was hung on his picture.  It almost looks like he's going to smell it, which is something he loved to do every time his collar was removed for a brushing or a bath.  Beside his urn are his special dew claws (that usually get removed on most puppies).  I loved these little claws.  I saved the only two that I found broken off in the house over the years (the small ones) and I clipped off the other two (the ones in the middle) after he died.

During the times I would have been really sad because my mind would have time to think about him, like driving in the car, I found that the music of Joe Satriani really helped me to avoid crying.  I could focus on the continuous guitar solos that I knew well and they kept my mind busy enough.  I listened to only Satriani for about two weeks.

I am writing this update on February 3, 2010.  This morning, I finally had another dream about Darwin.  We were in what was supposed to be the backyard of my old house, where he spent his life with me minus 6 months.  It didn't seem like he could walk though.  I think I had rested him on a small hill and he was so happy that he rolled over on his back and smelled the grass and started rolling down the hill a bit and I had to grab him.  I told him, "You love this yard, don't you?"  That was all I remembered of him being there.  I also spent time in the backyard while he was laying there and found a very strange, brown caterpillar that was about 9" long.  I couldn't get it to eat and I thought it was ready to make its cocoon, so I found this special place under some kind of wooden structure that already had cocoons there and I released the caterpillar.  Then I woke up.  I still miss him so much.  The pain has not faded much.  I am in tears as I type this now.  I still cry several times a week over the loss of him.  I still feel so empty without him.

I didn't have another dream about him until August 18, 2011.  In this dream, for some reason, he was still living at my old house (I think a neighbor was letting him out and feeding him or something) while I was living at my new house.  I had decided to pick him up and take him to the new house.  I arrived in a car that wasn't anything I currently have.  I called his name from outside and someone held open the door to the house.  I heard a jingle bell ringing as he bounded through the house and ran outside to greet me.  The bell was around his neck, just like my old dogs Heather and Sweeties used to wear, although I never put a bell on him his whole life.  Then I woke up.

On the morning of October 24, 2011, Darwin visited me again in a dream.  I was originally dreaming about teaching.  I was in some school I didn't recognize, teaching math.  When the kids turned their homework in, for some crazy reason, they also turned in money.  There were 1s, 5's, 10's and 20's in the pile I collected.  Then it was lunch time.  Instead of eating inside the school, I went outside and found an unlocked car and sat in the passenger seat.  I was counting through my money and somehow it got mixed in with the money that the car owner had in the vehicle.  Then the vehicle owner arrived, but he wasn't mad after I explained to him that I always look for a peaceful place outside in some random car to eat lunch in.  He was some executive guy visiting the school for the day.  In the money pile were also Canadian bills and a $2500 bill.  I told him that these bills must be his and removed them from my pile.  I mentioned how I'd never seen a $2500 bill and probably never would again.  Then when lunch was over, I went back in the school, but somehow, it was time to go home.  I went home to the old house though, and Brian was living there (as he actually is in real life as of late September 2011).  I turned up the heat because it was set for 64 degrees.  I sat in the den and called Darwin's name.  At first, I heard nothing and wondered where he was.  Then he came down the steps from my old bedroom and greeted me with hugs.  I was holding him and saying, "oh, my Buddy Boy, my Buddy Boy..."  Then I woke up realizing it was a dream and couldn't stop crying for a while afterwards.  I miss him so much.

On the morning of October 16, 2012, nearly a year after the last Darwin dream, he finally visited again.  This time, he came with Heather O' Halloween, my old wheaten terrier (but I'm not sure where Sweeties was because she should have been nearby if Heather was there).  My mom was giving them a bath with me and for some reason we were doing it outside, which we've never done.

On the morning of December 10, 2012, I awoke from a dream of Darwin.  I was at a shopping mall with another person (not sure who, and it's weird anyhow because I absolutely hate shopping malls and avoid them like the plague) and Darwin was with us.  We were talking about something and forgot about him for a minute.  I looked around and he was walking up the escalator on his hind legs like a person.  I thought nothing unusual of it in the dream though and we ran after him.  He reached the top before us and then he fell down as he scrambled to playfully get away.  A woman exclaimed that it was just "heartbreaking" to watch, but I explained to her that he needed his exercise even if he does fall once in a while.  Then I woke up.

On the morning of October 17, 2013, I dreamt that I was in my old house again, but it seemed temporary and not well-planned.  I think I had brought Darwin over from somewhere else because I had gone upstairs and forgotten to let him outside.  I heard him scratching around downstairs, but by the time I got there, it looked like he couldn't hold his urine, so I threw a towel down and he urinated on it.  I told him it was ok and I was sorry I forgot to let him out.  Then I woke up.  I am pretty sure he appeared in a dream I had yesterday morning as well, but I couldn't remember it.

On the morning of December 13, 2013, I dreamt Darwin just had a bath and I was packing items at the old house.  I didn't remember any other details.

On the morning of February 15, 2014, I had a dream about packing up items in the old house and Darwin was there with me.  I find it interesting that this is now the sixth dream I've had that takes place at the old house.  I do know that he never really felt like the new house was "home," even though he had his own room.  He missed his old spots and smells where he lived most of his life.  I think his last good memories were when I was packing up things in the old house and he didn't know at that time that we were going to be moving to a new location.

On the morning of March 5, 2014, I awoke to a dream in which I was standing by the side of a road, waving to some friends in a car that were leaving the location, and then I leaned over and pet Darwin, who was standing next to me on his leash.

On the morning of June 6, 2014, I awoke to a dream in which I was working on my moss/rock/bone garden with my mom and I asked Darwin to grab me a bone from the pile of deer bones nearby.  He walked over and carefully took out a shoulder blade and gently carried it over to where I was working.  Me and my mom both said, "good boy," and then I woke up.

On the morning of October 15, 2014, I had a dream that seemed to occur at the old house because the garage was the same.  I came out of the house to see Darwin, who was outside, laying down on the garage floor, with the big garage door open.  He stood up and walked up to me and I hugged him and greeted him, and then I woke up.  He never once laid on the garage floor when he was alive.  In fact, I don't think he ever took a step in there even when I was outside and had the door open.  In that sense, the dream was rather unusual.

I woke up on November 11, 2014 to a dream about Darwin.  I was over at my old house (as usual), and the neighborhood seemed to be falling apart.  The garage roof was dilapidated and light was shining through into the garage.  The building seemed to be on a slight lean.  Strangely, I found Darwin about 10 feet back inside the garage on the left side, just chillin'.  He'd never even set foot in my garage while he was alive, ever!  He was laying on some blankets and seemed content when I greeted him.  That is all I remember.

On November 28, 2014, he was in my dreams again.  I had just arrived at my old house and all was quiet.  I couldn't figure out where he was.  I went to what appeared to be my bedroom (but it was on the first floor, and my real bedroom in that house was upstairs).  In came Darwin to greet me.  Then I woke up.

November 30, 2014, I woke up to a dream of Darwin riding with me in an SUV.  He was in the front seat and I was riding in the back.  Brian was driving.  That was all I remembered.

On February 12, 2015, I had an interesting dream in which it was acknowledged in the dream that Darwin had passed.  However, I somehow was able to still hold him in my arms, and I said in the dream, "I never thought I'd be able to hold him again."  But somehow, in the dream, it was possible.

On January 30, 2016, I had a dream about Darwin, but he wasn't in it.  It was set later in my life at my parents' house, and I was somehow having trouble remembering where Darwin was.  I thought I remembered us dropping him off somewhere and needing to go and get him.  Brian was over at my parents' house too, and I first asked him where Darwin was.  He told me to go talk to my parents.  I asked my dad, who was sitting in the family room with my mom, where Darwin was.  He just stared at me, expressionless.  I asked again more firmly, and my dad just stared into space.  I began lightly kicking my dad's foot to get him to react in some way, begging him to tell me where Darwin was, but it was like the twilight zone, and he didn't move or speak.  Then I woke up.

 

     

     

 

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