Well, this is it. The post I devote to someone who made me so happy and for whose loss I am currently feeling so much grief and sadness. Ari, our male dog. Little Ari Guitari, assless chaps, our silly frisbee loving, muscle-bound, snuggle-bug, meester-keester, crazy wiggle-butt little guy.
First things first: Ari was not a bad dog. He was an exceptionally good dog actually, but something wasn't right and it wasn't something we could ignore. Despite his intense desire to please us and his very loving nature, he did show human aggression, something a sound pit bull does not do. It is that simple. So maybe something was wrong genetically, or maybe we did something wrong; it is too hard to tell and too painful to guess. He never showed aggression toward us; it was strangers that he was iffy with. Could we have worked with him to try to remedy it? Probably. But in the end, we decided the risk involved in failing to "fix" the problem was too high. So for his sake, for our sake, for the sake of people we come in contact with, and for the sake of other pittie lovers, we had to make the most awful, gut-wrenching decision, to put our little boy down.
It was done Wednesday, December 19th, 2007. We were lucky enough to have an awesome vet office (even though we're still so new here in MN), where they had a comfort room with carpet on the floor, and staff members stayed with Grady in the lobby area so Ari could have his Momma and Papa to himself that one last time. He was happiest when he had us all to himself I think anyway, so it felt good to give him that. We got to hug him and cry and tell him how loved he is and that he will always be loved by us. He will always be part of this family. We have enough pictures to plaster the walls with Ari; there's no erasing him and I would never want to.
I'm crying as I write this, so maybe it is time to move on to the happier memories. Pictures and maybe even a video too. We adopted Ari on May 18th, 2005. He was a little 3 month old spunky pup. He and sissy Paisley, then about 9 months old, hit it off pretty well from the start. We have some pretty cute and funny pictures from those early days. He was a pup, so he tired easily and would konk out in the funniest positions, sometimes with his little tongue hanging out.
Speaking of his tongue, the boy never learned to keep it in his mouth! He had to be kissing you, putting his mouth, his tongue on you always. He just didn't seem to know any other way of interacting and sharing his excitement and his love with people. That's why I took to calling him "meester keester" or mister kisser.
His wiggle-butt was so crazy, his tail would hit him on each side as it went back and forth. And if you were un-lucky enough to be in the path of this tail...ouch! It was often truly painful when he was really excited to be hit by that whirling tail of his. It packed a punch for sure.
He loved his sis, Paisley. He always wanted to be right with her, laying on her so often, as picture after picture demonstrates. While it seemed a pesky, annoying habit on the surface, I think he did it just because he loved her so much and loved the contact. He was not a boy who appreciated alone-time.
His greatest love in this world though was Jeremy, his Papa as we called him. Nothing could compete with a game of frisbee with his Papa. Unless it was a run with his Papa, or exploring in the woods with his Papa, or cuddling with his Papa, or going for a ride with his Papa, or...you get the picture. He hated it if J was outside and he was stuck inside; he would run from window to window, whining, running to the door hoping to be admitted outside or that Papa would come back inside. Nothing, just nothing, could compete with his Papa.
I could go on for days about our lovely, wonderful boy, I really could. He loved frisbee fetch so much and often J would purposely throw the frisbee outside the fence back in NY and let Ari out to go find it. We called him our Frisbee Search and Rescue All-Star. =) Just the memory brings a smile to my face; seeing him run around the fence line and out of site, always to return with his red frisbee in his mouth, triumphant and proud. J and I would clap and laugh and encourage him to come back to us, which he was always eager to do.
Oh crap, I'm crying again.
His love for frisbee could even entice him out in the snow and cold, which he did not love one bit. I can remember one particularly cold, snowy morning in NY. I believe it was the winter of 2005/2006. Ari went out to potty, but got so cold and stood there on three legs, just staring at Mommy in the doorway to the warm house. He whined and his little eyes pleaded with me...and I totally gave in like the sucker Momma I am and went out to pick up our little 45 pound boy out of the snow and cold and cuddled him all the way inside. What can I say?! He broke my little heart with those eyes and that face. Jeremy made fun of me mercilessly for it, but I would just respond "you should have seen his face; you would have done the same."
Were there bad things about Ari? You bet. He barked in his crate if you were home, protesting having to be away from you for even a moment. He was exciteable and hard to take places. He never grew his big-boy bladder and had to go potty about 8 times a day, and would often pee in his crate when left alone. He could be dog aggressive, and he and Paisley did have a few fights that were pretty serious. That we could have dealt with though. And as we mentioned, those few instances of human aggression. While they weren't intense or vicious in any sense, they were enough for us to fret and worry and finally realize something wasn't right.
All the rest was so good, so very, very good. He listened, he really did, because he wanted to make us happy. And he loved so much and with such innocence. There were times he was just so good, it would make me so proud. Proud enough to tear up at how wonderful my boy could be. Times when he would react wonderfully to strange people and other dogs, times when he was everything we knew he could be. It still breaks my heart to think of those very few, isolated times when he wasn't good, when he was actually dangerous. A term I never would have thought I'd have to apply to my snuggly, lovey boy.
I miss him so much; I still cry almost daily missing my Ari. I know Jeremy misses him so much too. I have never seen Jeremy cry so much or be so broken up in my life. And that is saying a lot, as during our life together we have lost some very wonderful and important people (my Mom, his Grandma, my Grandpa). Would I go back and not have had him in our life, and not have this pain now? No, not for a second. I treasure the time we had Ari with us, and we will continue to keep him with us in thought and in our hearts forever. I have no doubt of that.
A trainer we consulted with when trying to make the decision of what to do said something that sticks out in my mind. She said "maybe you were meant to be his family." I think that is very true. For whatever reason, we were meant to love him and have him love us. And sadly, we were meant to make this decision and fulfill this responsibility of putting him to rest before something truly bad happened.
One last good memory, and unfortunately one we never got recorded, despite the many videos of him. J taught/encouraged him to howl because he thought it quite cute, which it was, though I was serious-Momma who didn't want to encourage "bad" behaviors. They got their routine down to a pretty good science: J would do air guitar and Ari would howl in response to it. Their own little band, kind of. ;)
So to my dear Ari Guitari, I hope there's a big red frisbee whereever you are now, and bones filled with peanut butter, and someone to kiss and cuddle until someday when hopefully me and your Papa can be with you again. Much love to our boy. Ari we miss you and we love you still and always will.