Dog: Schnapps – Labrador (Rockville, MD)
(Born: Jan. 19, 2000 in Randfontein, South Africa – Died: July 14, 2014 in Rockville, MD)
My dearest Schnappsy,
Before you came into our lives, mom and dad were done with the idea of raising another pet. Losing our Kenyan “wild” dog Savannah so abruptly had left us hardened and afraid to invest so much love in another creature who we would one day have to say goodbye to again. I was young and resilient, and believed that bringing a puppy into our home would be the only way to heal our hurting hearts.
I wouldn’t let go of the idea, I knew you were out there waiting for us – with the kind of persistence only a 13 year old can muster. I pressed the idea every chance I got. Mom and dad said they wanted a black lab so we wouldn’t have to worry about temperament as we had with Savannah. They also wanted a puppy that came from a breeder who could trace the family line and rule out possible genetic problems.
I woke up extra early every morning, scanning the classifieds for puppies that came from a breeder. You were born on January 19th, 2000 in Randfontein (a rural area on the outskirts of Johannesburg). Mom and I drove out to see you, and meet your mommy (a black lab) and daddy (a yellow lab). I remember walking into the garage where you and your siblings were living. You came and sat right on my foot and began to tug and chew on my pants. You chose us.
We had to wait 2 weeks before we could come back and get you because you weren’t weaned yet and still needed to be with your mother. Those two weeks passed by with painstaking anticipation. Then on March 3rd we brought you home, it was my brother Adam’s birthday.
Mom, my other brother Brian and I drove out to pick you up. And the box we brought to keep you in remained empty as you slept, wrapped in an old towel, in Brian’s lap the whole way home.
I remember bringing you up the garage stairs, into the kitchen. Adam and his friends were toasting to his birthday with schnapps. That’s how we named you. Mom and dad wanted to give you an African name, but Brian, Adam and I called you Schnapps so much that it stuck. And that was the name you answered to.
I remember how we covered the kitchen floor in newspaper and left towels in the kitchen for you to sleep on. My, how you did cry through the night. I couldn’t stand it. I knew I wasn’t allowed to bring you to my room. So I came to kitchen and slept on the floor in the newspaper to comfort you until you stopped crying. I did this night, after night.
We took you to puppy socialization classes and obedience training. We taught you how to poop on command. With a wagging tail, slobbery grin and kind eyes, you rose to every challenge we ever presented.
We left South Africa without you because we had to stop in London for a friend’s wedding. You got to fly out a few days after on Swissair to Zurich, where they let you out for a stretch and then you flew directly on to Washington. We drove out to Dulles airport and picked you up. I was so worried that you might not remember us. But out from that crate you came bounding towards us, elated to have not been forgotten.
You adjusted well to life in Rockville, Maryland and our old house. You had such a zeal for life and a passion for walking, swimming and at times, humping! I remember the time you dug a hole in the kitchen wall, chasing you around the house, learning to walk you on the pinch collar. How happy you were when you pleased us. Everyone said you would start to calm down by your third birthday, but you were wild til you turned five.
You were such a hard worker that it even got you into trouble sometimes. We learned that instead of chasing you around the house with our possessions in your mouth, all we needed to do was feign a grateful “thank you”, and with a wagging tail you brought whatever it was right back, unscathed. All the while, you were a constant companion, a joker, a friend. You had a loyal, quiet, knowing presence that will stay with me always.
Days at lake Frank swimming with Gibson and Greta. Long walks with Emily and Myrus, Jeff and Tucker. Rubbing your belly. Laying with you on the kitchen floor. I’ll never forget you. In my heart you’ll always be. Nothing will ever change that. So sleep well sweet puppy. May your dreams be filled with duck liver pate, endless walks and belly rubs. I love you. We all love you.
You were the best damn dog in the whole universe!
Katie with Alex, along with Pat, Adam and Brian and all your friends, dog, cat and human