To all the dog lovers out there, well, I think you'll be able to relate to this post quite well. I've once been called "the most sentimental person ever," and because I fully embrace that characteristic, yes, I am writing a blog post dedicated to my now eleven year old dog.
Humphrey Bogart, the dog that most of you know VERY well, turns eleven years old TODAY. When my feet hit the floor I saw him sleeping on my side of the bed. I dropped to the ground beside him and kissed his face a thousand times, telling him, "Happy birthday, Buddy!" My daughter Reese woke soon after and excitedly reminded her brother that today is Humphrey's birthday! I had to rush for a work meeting, but as I left, my husband and the kids were singing him the birthday song. Celebrating pets birthdays may seem kind of strange, but if you're anything like me, than your pets are pretty up there in equality to your kids. (Okay, THAT may be a stretch...I am not fully equating our animals with our human children, however, I will say that MY love for all of them is pretty dang close in measure.)
I was introduced to Humphrey back in October of 2007. Growing up, I had a white Labrador Retriever named Holly, and I knew by Facebook stalking (you all do it) that the guy I was into (my now husband) had a Chocolate Lab. I was thrilled to spend a day with both, as that guy had invited me to meet at the coffee shop he worked at for a hot beverage. I walked out the back glass doors where his back was towards me. His dog however, saw me in an instant, and hopped up, greeting me with massive paws on my chest. He almost knocked me to the ground and I remember being so appalled at this--MY Lab, was perfect. Like, literally though, she turned herself into my brother's service dog, and basically never left his or my parents side. She was quiet and sweet, never licked, and lord have mercy, NEVER jumped! (Basically she was half human, we are all convinced, and her other half was angel.) I knew then, Humphrey was NOT part human nor part angel. Little did I know though....my heart would be transformed.
Humphrey got kicked out of his house shortly after this meet-up, because he had 'bit' the mailman. Asa ("that guy") was living with his parents and therefore, so was his dog. Well, Humphrey never actually DID bite the mailman, he excitedly had jumped on him and left BARELY a sliver of a red scratch. Regardless, that was taken very seriously and the humane society demanded that Humphrey be quarantined completely for two weeks. Asa's parents weren't mean or anything, but they just didn't exactly want them on their premises anymore. Before we decided that he could live with me [obviously Asa and I moved QUICK, because we had spent every single day together SINCE that coffee date, and I had in that time frame got my OWN puppy--our Golden Retriever, Elsa]; Humphrey did something kind of dumb. It was a Sunday morning, we had just got back to Asa's parents from church, and we saw Humphrey running down the driveway towards us to greet us. The funny (not funny?) thing IS, is that Humphrey had started the "quarantine" and had been locked in Asa's bedroom for the short couple of hours that we would be away. He has always been ASA'S DOG, and made this abundantly clear to all of us when we noticed he had busted out of the basement bedroom window, in order to GET to Asa who pulled into the driveway. He didn't have a scratch on him that day and wagged his tail, greeting us how he always did--with an over abundance of pure energy.
We decided that day, I would take him and keep him at my house, where he could hang out all day with Elsa. She quickly became his best friend and long lost companion--his disposition changed immensely in the coming weeks and months; though that may be largely due to how much more exercise he was getting? Asa and I went on walks daily with our dogs--taking them to open fields and letting them run ramped. Humphrey has always been the extreme, and Elsa has always been the quiet graceful one-- together, they make the most amazing duo.
Since I probably can't write one single post talking about all ELEVEN of Humphrey's years, I know I need to wrap it up. In June of 2011, he gave us quite the scare when he and I were playing fetch. Throwing a stick and him catching it completely wrong resulted in a punctured artery in his tongue and LOTS of blood. That moment was one of many that I realized how THANKFUL I am for Humphrey and how much I freeking love his soul.
Even when, for instance, he ate the entire Christmas ham. Or when he tried to burn Asa's parents house down by managing to turn on their stove when he hopped up for leftovers. Or when he ate a twenty pound bag of dog treats and we witnessed the results of that ALL night long. There have been quite a few (more than we can count) mishaps with this dog, but even and especially with those memories, he is the most lovable and protective friend.
We've learned this summer, that his neck has a disc that is showing wear and tear from age. Our vet explained it to us like one of us having a rotator cuff issue and it causing immense arm pain--Humphrey's neck was so sore and he was in SO much pain; he would holler out and was hardly able to move at all. Luckily it doesn't seem to be too major, and with the nerve meds he's been on and anti-inflammatories, he is already back to his normal self. See a trend here? He's just amazing. He is still on medication (I am guessing will always be?) but is no longer limping, is playing with his favorite ball, and goes out back to sunbathe on some of these incredibly hot summer afternoons. He begs 24/7, licks our faces, and his number one priority is being with us, wherever we are.
Asa shared this sweet birthday post on Facebook today with a photo I took a few days ago:
"This old man is one of my oldest and most loyal friends. Today he turns 11. Humphrey became part of my family when it was just he and I. I was battling depression, and had very little direction in life. He never seemed to care about those things. Humphrey was with me as I built a life with Ashley. He has protected us through 4 moves, and this week a 5th. He has been the gentle giant to both of my not so gentle children. Happy Birthday to great big lug of friend! Praying for many more happy returns!"
I feel like this sums (granted, a very LONG summary) our sweetheart of a dog pretty well. He was Asa's first, to walk beside him through some pretty dark days, and quickly jumped into the rest of our hearts. Michigan trips, lake swims, hikes, and more, he's been there for them all. I'm excited (and admittedly also nervous) to see where the months and next years take us. Eleven is a big birthday, and this guy deserves the world! Oh, and if you haven't noticed where I stand now, ten years since meeting him, I know now that Humphrey is also half human, half angel ;)
The Company Store gifted Humphrey with an amazing dog bed for this birthday. Made of memory foam, it is easier on his joints, provides extra comfort, and is great for older dogs like this sweet man. We've washed the cover several times already (because hello shedding Labs), and it looks just like the day we received it. We are so grateful, and I think Humphrey is too! [Full disclosure: ALL the other animals sleep and cuddle on it as well. Ha! It's a hit for all of them!] Thank you, Company Store!!
Clearly from above, boxes are currently our life at the moment. We are excited to get in to our new house and for the next pages of our story to be written! Thanks for following along, and if you wish Humphrey a happy birthday, I'll be sure to tell him! We are cooking him a burger now and about to sing together as family.