For months now (possibly even a year, I can’t remember when I started) every time I’ve been passing by our dog, Porthos, and he’s asleep I’ve done what parents of newborns will be familiar with: I’ve stopped in my tracks and waited, breath held, until I’ve seen his stomach or chest rise and fall with breath or some other movement that proved he was still alive. And over the last few months he was napping so much of the time I was pausing at lease five times a day. The saddest part was, this time I didn’t have to check, I just knew. It wasn’t any of his comfortable napping poses. I froze not to wait, but to put my hand over my mouth and start crying.
Like Arima, Porthos was Ezri‘s son, born in the same litter as Arima. He was named for Captain Archer’s (from Star Trek Enterprise) pet beagle, but we had a lot of people (read: not nerds) think it was for The Three Musketeers, especially with Arima around which people would think was Aramis. For a large part of the three’s lives all of them lived together with us, but Porthos had a bit of a journey before those days.
In the young days, still a puppy, Porthos would escape with or without his mother (usually with), but none of those journeys is the one I’m talking about. When he was a few months old Porthos went to live with T-J’s parents. They didn’t rename him because T-J’s mum also is a Trekkie. But it wasn’t a forever home (though not through neglect). When the couple split, Porthos moved with T-J’s mum, but then she made a further move to Tasmania. While she looked for a place suitable for an escape artist dog Porthos stayed with us, completing the trio of dogs we’ve had for over a decade.
Porthos was an impressive jumper. We had to extend too-short fences with chicken wire to prevent his stunning leaps over, and then ensure all houses after had solid six foot fences. Being the leanest of the trio he was often the first to wriggle worm-like under fences too, and was the last to give up escaping the yard for adventures in the wide world – though his last escape a couple of years back was anti-climactic as he only escaped into our back door neighbor’s yard to play with their dog Indie ;p
Porthos started going grey almost as soon as his mother did (so a year and a half early) and his colour bleaching was even more extensive and for at least the last year I’ve been calling him ‘Old Man’ far more than his real name.
While being our only dog for the last 18 months might have been a little lonely since his fur family wasn’t around anymore, his human family’s attention was no longer split, and he also got away with a lot more stuff (such as coming inside far more often). He also got to enjoy more big group walks as it’s much easier to walk with two kids and a dog that two kids and three (or two) dogs, that and in his old age he wasn’t tugging the leash quite so violently as in his more youthful days.
Another benefit of being the last dog is when he started getting picky with his food he was indulged (gourmet dog loaves anyone?). Sadly as the months wore on he got pickier and pickier. Even the food he did like he’d wait to eat, or eat a little now then a bit more an hour or two later. A couple of cheeky magpies in the area would pop by in the morning to have a peck or two at what was left in his bowl. Then morning and afternoons, and now just whenever they felt a bit peckish (bdm-tsh). Seriously though, I should take a picture of these magpies, they are legitimately fat birds compared to the rest of their species.
He was always funny with his food though, insisting on flipping over dry food bowls because he’d rather eat it off the ground, and often playing what I can only call cat-like with individual biscuits and flipping them up in the air and chasing them. (I tried to find a video of this while sorting through our drives for this memorial but there are soooooo many videos over the years, I haven’t been able to find it yet. Will post if I do though because it’s hilarious and adorable). In a similar cat like way, he used to like to climb up onto my lap and curl up there too. In the picture at the top of pregnant me cuddling him he was trying to curl up in my lap and I was telling him “Dude, I don’t even have a lap at the moment”. Like all our dogs, he never chased any of our cats, but that’s probably because he was raised as a puppy with many of them while they were kittens.
With Porthos’ passing yesterday we now live in a house with no canines, a state we haven’t been in since the very early days of our relationship. He was 16, like his mum, so a huge part of our lives and our kids’. It’s tough, waking up in a dog-less house, but at least the trio is together once more.