In Remembrance of My Dog Shaka

Shaka and I by my car

Today I’m taking a break from writing about small and medium business issues. Well, since I sometimes work from home and have my dog in the office, this may qualify as being somewhat business related…but it’s a stretch. In four hours, the vet will put my dog to sleep and his spirit will join others in doggie heaven…or wherever dog’s souls go.

 

I am sad. Very sad. But I am also filled with love and gratitude for his unending presence and support. He will live on in my memories. As a single woman, I often talked to my dog. No, Shaka did not answer back but he would tilt his head to and fro like he was trying to understand. Sometimes that’s all you need. A sympathetic ear and a good listener. When I got irritated and yelled at him, he’d get out of my way but then come back a little later (when he sensed it was safe?) and nuzzle me to pet him. Like he was saying, “You can be a pill sometimes but I still love you.” or “It’s really not that big of a deal. All is forgiven.”

Shaka was a 105 lb. Rottweiler. (He’s down to 75 lbs. now, most of it due to me purposefully reducing his weight 2.5 years ago to relieve the stress on his joints and prevent hip dysplasia and other joint issues Rotties are prone to as they age.) He’s smaller than my other Rott, V, who was 125 lbs. (He passed several years ago when Shaka was 4.5.) Shaka reformed from an Omega dog, the opposite of an Alpha dog, to a Beta. So he went from being a bit of a wuss to standing moderately strong on occasion. My other Rott, V, was definitely an Alpha.

Shaka and I found each other when he was 6 weeks old. He was the runt of the litter and the only one that survived. (The mother buried her puppies and inadvertently smothered them. The other remaining one died of parvo.) Shaka  went along and got along well with everyone. Once, my dogs got out of the backyard when Shaka was 2 and my new neighbors called the police. Both dogs stayed in the front yard and didn’t roam. The police enticed Shaka back into the backyard but V growled and snapped whenever the police got close to the front door or back gate so eventually the police tranquilized him. (My other neighbor gave me the details.) So V was always the protector. After V passed, I occasionally wished that Shaka would be.

Once, a thief broke into my house and stole my computer. I know it was someone who’d been in the neighborhood. I got home and Shaka was his usual happy self. When I discovered my items were stolen, I yelled at Shaka, “Why didn’t you do something?“. Shaka probably said, “Wow! A visitor! I remember meeting you a few times over the years. Your scent is so familiar. Come right on in!” Later, I laughed about it. I had realized a couple years before that Shaka was not V and I just had to accept him and love him for who he was and not for what he could be or what I wanted him to be. The good thing was, Rottweilers look strong  and people have a perception of them as being mean and nasty so potential miscreants almost always assumed Shaka would do some damage. Only I (my family and friends and that neighborhood thief) knew better!

Shaka loved to go on hikes. Loved it. Like me, he loved nature. Unlike me, he liked all the delicious smells. Since I like to hike in the mountains, he grew to recognize the signs. When we moved to Georgia, he’d get so excited when we’d slow down in a hilly, treed area. And he liked to ride. No, he loved to ride. He was a road dog. I occasionally let him sleep overnight in the car because he’d refuse to get out, thinking I was going somewhere again and would leave him if he didn’t stay in. I had to watch him with friends, family, and others too. My plumber left his truck door open and the next thing we knew, Shaka had jumped in and taken up residence. It took 10 minutes for us to get him out. (Yes, he only weighed 105 lbs but with that low center of gravity and pure obstinance, he was quite strong.) 

Shaka was my constant companion. I admittedly took him for granted sometimes. But I got a wake up call when Shaka was 7. I left him on the front porch at 12:30am on a Thursday night and went back into the house to get more iced tea. When I came back, he was gone. I went looking for him, but couldn’t find him. In the end he was gone for 10 days. A dog rescuing bartender on her way home from work saw him a block from my house and picked him up. (Remember what I said about how Shaka loved to ride.) During the time that Shaka was gone, I stopped taking midnight walks around the neighborhood. I heard every creak and groan in the house and occasionally woke up to investigate. And I missed him, sorely. I missed our walks, his asking for food and treats, his companionship. Shaka provided me with security. Sure, I couldn’t assume that he would protect me from an intruder but he would most certainly let me know that one was there. And the intruder would have to decide between me or the Rott. And Rottweilers are a definite deterrent. Who wants to break into the house with the Rott when the next door neighbors have a Schitzu? I realized that the confidence I have moving around and feeling safe in my home had a lot to do with Shaka.

Shaka made it back to me. The dog rescuer/bartender saw my signs, I saw her signs, and a neighbor knew us both. She ended up becoming Shaka’s babysitter when I went out of town. Funny how things happen. And I (almost) never took Shaka for granted again.

So my Shaka is 12 years old. Old for a Rottweiler. He has been on an organic, whole food supplemented diet. Most Rotts live for 8-10 years so I know I am truly blessed to have had him in my life so long. But that’s more than one quarter of my life so his passing will leave a little hole. When my other dog died, Shaka sat by the back door for 4 months in a depressed state like he was awaiting a return. I won’t sit by the door but I will do a lot of hiking over the next few months so I can remember Shaka’s wonderful spirit. I will miss him sorely. Yet I am so thankful that I had the time that I did.