In the days of Derenger, there was a constant theme. Getting the squirrel. Derenger was our first dog not counting the three days we had Badger (he got hit by a car). D-man was Badger’s replacement and completely obsessed with catching squirrels.
This dog was fast. So fast and graceful we often called him Gazelle dog. But catching a squirrel he could never do. About one year after getting Derenger, we got his sister, Magnum. Both by the way are shelter pups, the best kind of pup to get. She was fast too. Together, they would continue over years to catch those elusive tree rodents. To no avail. What we didn’t know was that you needed three against one.
Barretta came to us in 2009 by way of a great niece who needed us to babysit this five week old pup for just one night. What a ploy! Babysit hah! We fell in love and there were three. Our 13 year old Dobie/Shep mix, our 9 year old Lab/Shep mix and the newly born Staffordshire Terrier (Pitbull). The squirrels had met their match and were surely doomed.
About three months later, right before Christmas, my daughter saw the dogs playing with something outside. It was common for them to now corner a field mouse, so we didn’t think too much about it. Then we saw Derenger throw it into the air. It was a little big. Jarrod was called and we properly got the dogs inside. A quick walk discovered nothing but twigs on the ground so our expedition ended.
We then heard the panicked instructions from the living room by Jarrod telling us to stay in the wood stove room and don’t come out. I peered over the furniture to see Magnum staring over the half-eaten body of a squirrel that she had just thrown up all over the floor.
She couldn’t just let it stay outside. Nope, she gulped it down when she was called so she wouldn’t have to give up their prize. It took Jarrod four attempts to retrieve the half eaten mess up off the floor and several trips to the bathroom later, it was gone. Derenger walked a little differently after that. His shoulders were back, his chest out front and he never got mad at his new little friend, Barretta anymore.
Five months later Barretta would lick Derenger for hours the night before he would pass away. It was fitting. It was humbling to watch them together and I will never forget it. We keep saying Barretta will be our last dog and Magnum, well she is in her last days as well. I don’t think there will be more caught squirrels, but I do know that those dogs were in complete love with each other that day.
Having pets is a remarkable thing. These three dogs have been there through so much in my families lives and through all of Darien’s, our youngest. I really can’t imagine our house without dog hair, barking and the occasional “accident” that can happen when you have a dog. The house would be too clean. Too quiet and there would be less great stories to tell.
I miss you so much Derenger that I just cry sometimes to myself. You were our D-man. Your sisters miss you so much. I love you.