By Elisa Black-Taylor
I write this in memory of a dog who loved cats. Everyone at pictures-of-cats.org knows of our boxer mix Dreyfuss who lived harmoniously with a house full of cats. It is with deep sadness I have to report of Dreyfuss going to the Rainbow Bridge shortly after midnight on September 6.
Dreyfuss was a few weeks shy of being 12 1/2 years old. I got him as a six week old puppy when his owner met with me and my ex in a convenience store parking lot in June of 2000. Dreyfuss was in the bed of a pickup truck with his mother (a full blooded boxer) and his brother. I never said a word as I circled the truck three times. Dreyfuss followed my every move. We always believed Dreyfuss was either a lab or pit bull mix.
It became obvious at an early age that Dreyfuss was a special dog. He would lay his head on my ex’s lap shortly before a seizure would hit my ex. There were times he would be outside waiting on the grass beside him when EMS would arrive after a seizure. Once he even went to a neighbor across the street to summon help. The police and EMS workers would tell my dog to “go to his room.” Yes, Dreyfuss had his own bedroom at one time. And Dreyfuss would go to his room as ordered. If my ex had been as intelligent as my dog, he’d have suffered fewer seizures outside. On many occasions he ignored the warning.
We also trained Dreyfuss in water rescue. Like I said, he wasn’t your average dog. The home I live in now was burglarized shortly before I moved in. Dreyfuss put his big nose to work and found blood on the floor where the window had been broken in. A forensic team came back out to my home late one night to get a sample for DNA testing. There had been a string of burglaries in the area and I hope my dog played a part in identifying the thief.
Dreyfuss enjoyed playing “keep away tug of war” with his toys. He’s wait until the last second to pull his toy out of reach. We always got a good dose of dog slobber playing that game.
He also loved to ride. Heaven help the person who would come to visit and leave their car door open. Dreyfuss would get in the car and refuse to get out until he was taken for a ride around the block.
This special dog has also seen the Atlantic Ocean, the Blue Ridge mountains and Lake Hartwell. Dreyfuss stayed in motels on vacation and was invited back because he only barked when he had something to say. He especially loved Lake Hartwell, where he learned to retrieve a stick from halfway across the lake. Over and over and over. I know some days we sent him out twenty times. He’d refuse to relinquish the stick in his mouth and a new one had to be thrown to get him to drop the old one. He knew what “wanna go to the lake” meant and would jump in place until we got the keys and let him outside.
Dreyfuss was also housebroken from the day we got him. He nudged my hand that first night to be let outside. That later changed to staring at me and jumping up and down like a kangaroo when he wanted to go out. I don’t believe he had half a dozen “poop accidents” in over 12 years.
Dreyfuss had a healthy fear of cats beginning in 2004 when we moved to a new town and my cat Salem gave him an unexpected slap from a recliner I was sitting in. Dreyfuss had put his big head on the chair arm to be petted and didn’t realize I had brought Salem to our new place to live. He was afraid to get near a cat for the next two years.
Lola was the first cat Dreyfuss had any real contact with. This was in 2009, three years after I moved into the home where I now live. They got along well, but there was no real connection.
Then came Furby in November 2009. Furby walked right over to Dreyfuss, looked him in the eye and swatted his nose. Furby was around eight weeks old at the time. This started a friendship that lasted until Dreyfuss died.
I have pictures of many of our rescues using Dreyfuss as a giant pillow. Or should I call him a heating pad? My dog weighed 106 pounds. Many of the cats would also use him as a diving board. He didn’t appear to mind this. He was always respectful of all of the cats and never so much as growled at them.
I’ll never forget the time Dreyfuss got into a food dispute with our husky mix Cody. They were eating underneath the feeding bar and Furby was sitting on the feeding bar when it happened. It was a mild scuffle, but Furby flew off of the bar and jumped onto and over the washing machine in the next room. What can I say when talking about Furby. He was trapped behind the washer and had to be helped out of this tight spot.
Our cat Mandy will miss Dreyfuss the most. She had a habit of going over to him and standing on her hind legs to rub her head under his chin. Mandy also slept with Dreyfuss on my bed.
Dreyfuss was never sick with any minor illnesses. Ever. No colds, diarrhea, vomiting or any of the other things dogs are known for. He had arthritis and a bad heart, both controlled by medication. We thought we were going to lose him in early July, but after an adjustment in his medicine he began playing with me after work like in his younger days. We had to keep him cooler than in prior summers since the heat index often reached 107 F. or higher in the afternoons. He spent his days with a fan blowing on him as well as the air conditioner.
I had Laura wake me early enough each day to check on his condition. We treated every day like it could be his last, because we didn’t know. His last few months were spent with extra treats and extra hugs while we kept an eye on him for signs of pain or difficulty breathing.
The early morning of September 6 came as a shock to my daughter Laura and me. I had just gotten home from work early. My relief was about half an hour early and I was able to leave about fifteen minutes earlier than I normally do. I changed clothes as soon as I came in the house, then sat down next to where Dreyfuss was sleeping on the couch. We have a good couch and a dog couch. He’d been sleeping on the good couch for a few days. Laura and I were talking about something when Dreyfuss started moving his head around as dogs do when they want a good scratching. Then Laura noticed his head hanging off of the couch. I said his name and lifted his head back onto the couch. It was then he took a deep breath and then another and he was gone.
It was easy to see his breathing had stopped. Two breaths and he was gone. No struggle at all. His heart stopped beating. He just died, laying on his favorite couch with those who loved him. We’re so happy he left the world in this manner. I had been dreading a visit to the vet to have him euthanized. For one, Dreyfuss could be a dangerous dog. He would have to have been muzzled then sedated by men in strange surroundings on a cold table. Dreyfuss hasn’t been around men in over six years except for his vet and he really and doesn’t like them. He’s a woman’s dog.
Laura and I lifted him off of the couch and wrapped him in a sheet. We placed him in the hall until morning when I could take him to the vet for cremation. A local college does them for $165 and they even include an urn. It still hadn’t hit me he was gone.
Our cat Lucky kept vigil over Dreyfuss throughout the night. He lay right beside him until morning. This was odd because Lucky never paid much attention to my dog. Mandy has been going around today looking for him.
Our little Cujo slept with me (what little sleep I got between crying spells). Cujo had a doggie nightmare and I had to wake him up. Sealy slept on my pillow. I think they all knew I was hurting. I admit going to bed without him was the hardest. Except during the time my ex was dying at Rainey Hospice House back in 2009, Dreyfuss was a constant in my life. He was a bed hog who would wake me every time he left the bed for a drink of water or to nudge me to let him outside for a potty break. I miss kicking against him telling him to move over and give me some room.
We’re thankful we had such a good dog who lived such a long life. Even his last day was like all other days. He ate a bowl of his food and just laid around being a dog. Laura came home from the neighbors around 10p.m. and sat by him awhile before starting dinner. Thinking back, Laura thought it odd that Dreyfuss didn’t leave the couch for the two hours prior to his death. He may have known he’d lose the most comfortable seat in the house if he moved off of the couch or he may have been dying. He gave no outward signs of what was about to happen. Twelve is old for a dog his size. Its just such a shock that’s going to take awhile to get over.
I recently read an article about euthanasia that stated the worse the health of an animal, the harder it is at the time of death. It takes a lot of effort for them to die. Dreyfuss knew it was his time. We’d been asking him to please die in his sleep at home. He obeyed that last request.
I feel Dreyfuss made a big impact on the readers here. Through his love of our cats, he showed cats and dogs can live together in peace. That alone made him special. His intelligence, love and devotion made him irreplaceable. He’s my last dog (excluding Cujo who believes himself to be a cat).
Please keep our family in your thoughts during the difficult days ahead.