Diego loved life. He was the most enthusiastic, optimistic and joyful dog I've ever lived with. He'd had a rough start in life - Amy and I found him living in filthy conditions at the Eccentric Dog Man's collection of dogs. We cajoled and begged until the Eccentric Dog Man said we could buy him for $75.00. Diego began living with Amy, but it became apparent after several months that the long hours Amy puts in at Yellow Bird Art and Diego's deep need for consistent affection and training wasn't working for either of them. So, he came home to live with me. Our shepherd mix, BD (beautiful dog, another rescue from the Eccentric Dog Man) immediately took on Diego as though she were his dog nanny. He was housebroken within a week because he watched the other three dogs. BD spent endless hours playing with Diego and working off all that incredible Jack Russel energy. She disciplined him when he went too far and he had the nip scars on the top of his head to show for it. The hours of silly dog play filled our home with joy.
Over the year and a half that Diego lived with us, we witnessed a wonderful dog emerging from whatever his past had been. He was the funniest dog I've ever met, and maybe one of the smartest. I only realized a couple of months ago that he had picked me as his human. He spent the night in his crate in our bedroom (he would zip into his crate when we called "time for bed"), and when George would get up in the morning he'd let Diego out of the crate and my sweet dog would leap onto the bed, wiggle under the covers and snuggle up close to my body for the next hour of sleep. He'd follow me all around the house, and when I was sitting he'd want to hop up onto my lap, or he'd lay on the floor with his nose pressed on top of my feet while I was on the computer. He just learned how to go up and down the steep stairs, and was so excited to zoom up the stairs in front of me and then position himself at my computer chair, waiting for me to catch up, all the while wagging his tail so fast that you couldn't see it, and his little butt wiggling back and forth on the floor.
Diego's faults were that he never gave up on chasing my two cats, and his determined love affair with vehicle tires. Yesterday about noon our young neighbors were heading out of the valley in their truck. They didn't see or hear Diego, they just heard a thump. I was working outside and I heard Diego's cry. As I was rushing towards their truck, Nate was running towards me as Hallie climbed down into the ditch. Diego was alive, and we put him of the front seat of my car, and I drove the quickest drive ever to Waukon. I could hear Diego's labored and gurgling breath all the way there. The vet quickly examined Diego, and put him in an oxygenated crate. X-rays showed no broken bones, so we were encouraged. George went to town and saw Diego twice - the vets said they were hopeful and were trying to get Diego calmed down enough to remove some of the fluids in his chest. Fifteen minutes before George got home, I got the phone call. Diego had just died from internal bleeding.
Something happened to me, being Diego's human, that hasn't been so deep and intense with all the other pets I've shared my life with. I think it was seeing this unsocialized dog come into his own, and to simply observe his incredible for enthusiasm for living. George and I spent the entire evening yesterday weeping and had a weeping night without much sleep. This morning we made a silent drive into Waukon to pick up Diego. He was in a big black plastic bag in a cardboard box. When we got out to the car I asked George to get Diego out of the box and bag. I wrapped him in his green blanket and held his body on the drive home. We both cried all the way home. Nate and Hallie met us and we walked out to the sand hill where we have buried the pets we've loved the past 25 years. George, Nate and Hallie dug the little grave deep. We placed him in his grave wrapped up in his green knit blanket and said a few words. He was a great little dog with a huge heart and we loved him deeply. We will miss him more than words can say.