Sunday, June 12th, we had to say goodbye to Axel Arschloch von Tepaske our beautiful, two year-old German Shorthaired Pointer and Sligo’s guard dog keeping all of the birds and butterflies in line. I am pretty much a basket case going through cycles of guilt, memories, what-ifs, more memories, and comatose watching entire seasons of “Parks and Rec” in an effort to turn off my mind. We fought for him for 36 hours but in the end, his body had been through too much trauma and it was time to let him go.
The first time I saw Axel he was 5 weeks old. I had been following a German Shorthaired Pointer breeder online and Marcus was in Hawaii for three weeks and I figured it was better to ask for forgiveness than permission. She had a few pups left from a recent litter and one of them had caught my eye. I pulled Alex out of school early and she, Josephine, and I made the nearly two hour drive to meet our potential future puppy. He had blue eyes and a fat belly and the best white mark on his nose. The girls were in love. I was in love. Marcus would be in love once he returned (hopefully).
I had first noticed the breed a few months earlier when I saw the cutest pup on the trail. I stopped the owner and asked what kind of dog it was and she proceeded to gush about the German Shorthaired Pointer. “And,” she added, noticing I had been for a run, “they make incredible running partners.” I got home and started doing my research. Even though they weren’t recommended for first time dog owners because they needed A LOT of training and were EXTREMELY active I strongly felt this was the dog for
me the family. I think I was going through a weird “empty nest” phase because my youngest would be attending kindergarten in the fall and I wouldn’t have a baby to care for…and a human baby was (and still is) out of the question.
I’m not going to lie, Axel was a shit-head as a pup (hence his middle name “Arschloch” which means “asshole” in German). He nipped and harassed the girls constantly, completely intimidating our youngest. He took a bit of time to fully potty train and overall his manners got worse and worse the older he got. He counter surfed with zeal, ran away and would not come back, pulled on the leash, jumped on people, ate the cat food (and her poop), and barked incessantly. When he turned 1 we sent him to a trainer for three weeks and Marcus said it was the best money we ever spent (and if you know Marcus you know that means something).
If you’ve met me, you’ve probably met Axel. He is with me for every run and where we go is dictated by how hot it is and if we can find water along the route. His favorite path is heading towards the quarry in Fredericksburg where we can hit-up a little beach that allows him to swim and run through the sand zoomie style. When he sees me putting my socks on he knows we’re about to go have fun and gets a little obnoxious and barky and talks back when I tell him to be quiet.
He doesn’t like to let me ride in the car alone so he goes everywhere I go (with exception). He naps in the bend of my legs on the couch and if I don’t get up before him in the morning he jumps up into bed with me and we snooze a bit longer. He makes sure I have a paw to hold while sitting on the toilet (you know, just in case things go bad). He walks me to the mailbox and stays close when I’m doing yard work. When I’m sitting, he likes to put his two front paws on my shoulders and do a nice big stretch of his entire body (I call it an “Axie hug” and it drives Marcus crazy that I let him do it). If I walk out of the house and he’s already outside the second he sees me he bolts towards me as if he hasn’t seen me in years. He loves a good chin scratch and belly rub and I, on the other hand, just love the feel of his velvety soft ears. In other words, he is my best friend and I do not doubt I am his.
Once Axel meets you, you are a part of his pack and from that moment on he will greet you with a running charge, stopping short of knocking you over, his tail wagging and his head up, looking for a pat on the head. He’s moderately gentle with my girls (only occasionally knocking them over), recognizing their smaller stature but always up for a good game of chase or pretty much anything the girls are doing. When I watch our infant nephew, Axel is gentle and aware of the baby, giving him little sniffs and kisses and being sure not to step on him.
99% of the time Axel was with me when I stopped by Sligo during its renovation. I think he thought of the property as his own little dog park and he would start whining when we got close. I’m not sure how the guys who worked on Sligo really felt when they would see me pull up with my insane dog, it’s very likely they cursed. I do suspect one of the painters was a little wary of him. He definitely is not a dog for dog-fearing folks. To see a 50 pound dog charging at you with reckless abandon could make anyone nervous let alone someone who was fearful. I constantly apologized for his bad manners and craziness and I was assured that they didn’t mind and they liked him but I sometimes suspected otherwise.
I loved that dog fiercely and my entire life has been changed with his passing. My running partner/napping bud/handsomest boy/goodest boy/goofus is gone and the hole in my heart is the size of a crater. His loss will stay with me forever and I will miss watching him get old and grey, the way it should have been.