Tribute to a Rural Dog


I’ve only ever owned one dog…unless you count that pointer puppy that showed up at our house and hung out for a few hours, until my mom realized that he belonged to some folks down the road. So, excluding that, I’ve only ever owned one dog. I’m a senior in college, and I still look forward to a trip to my parents’ house to see my beloved fuzzball again.

The oldest digital picture I have of she and myself. That was junior year of high school, before my Winter Ball. I was 16, and Chewy was 8.

Her name is Chewy. We adopted her when I was in elementary school. My mother and I had made a special trip to the PetCo to get turtle food, and we happened to stop there during an adoption fair. The organization, which is now known as Kankakee County Animal Haven, had a policy where both spouses had to be present to adopt an animal. I pushed and prodded and persuaded as much as my little elementary-school-aged heart dared to, and by the time Ma and I had returned from our turtle food run we had resolved to gather my father and return to PetCo to look at puppies.

It was pretty clear that we were meant to have the 6-month-old black Chow Chow in the corner cage. She was already trained to the name Chewy, so she kept it. In a matter of hours, we went from dogless with no intention of owning a dog, to the proud new family of Chewy the Chow Chow.

Chewy is not a cuddler. She doesn't like hugs or snuggles. However, she knows what it means when all of my stuff gets put into boxes and bins and loaded into the car, so she "allowed" me to hug her for this picture before I left for college sophomore year.

Chewy has been with us for well over a decade. We adopted her in May of 1999, which means I was 8. She’s still alive and kicking, which makes her a striking 13 years old. That’s a good run for any dog, let alone a larger breed like a Chow. And she’s been fantastic. Now she spends her twilight years meandering peacefully around the woods with my mother and stepfather, enjoying boat rides on the river and all of the random sights and smells of rural Illinois. (Well, she somewhat enjoys the sights. She’s developing cataracts, and I’m convinced she had good days and bad days for sight…oh, and she’s pretty much deaf.)

The cold weather makes it harder for her to bend down and get a drink from the river when we go on walks together, so she's started wading into the river to get a drink. We think that she likes the way it feels on her sore knees.

While she’s slowed down significantly, and my parents are starting her on joint supplements and as-needed puppy painkillers for her arthritis, she’s still a happy, loyal, loving, protective, and much-appreciated part of the family. I don’t even remember what life was like before Chewy. She has a very distinct character and personality. She has people she likes best and people she doesn’t like at all. She adores my mother and stepfather unconditionally, and hates my sister’s friend Stew. Overall, she’s a pretty fantastic dog, and every time I go home I make a point to spend time giving her the TLC she deserves. She’s given us almost a decade and a half of devotion, and I know each time I see her just might be the last.

Thank you, Chewy. We love you.

My parents went on a boat ride and let Chewy sleep on the dock. When she realized that they left without her, she followed them into the river and stood in the shallows crying. They then went back to the shoreline and pulled her into the boat, where she quickly fell asleep again.

My stepdad was loading tools into this little wagon to take down to the river to do some work. He walked into the garage, and when he came back, Chewy was waiting in the cart, ready to go do work with him.

When we moved to the new house, my parents decided it was time to get Chewy a bed. My mom and I picked out this very nice, cozy bed for her. We've had the dog bed sitting on the floor for 10 months and she still hasn't laid on it without coaxing or treats.

Chewy loves the woods. She goes walking in them regularly with my parents, and any other members of our family that visits the property. Since she can't always see well and can barely hear, her sense of smell is her window to the world. She loves snuffling around in the leaves.

She loves car rides. Look at how happy she is!

Taken in October 2011, myself and Chewy. While I hate to think that someday she won't be with us, I can think fondly of the 13+ years of loyalty she's given us, and know that she's been a true member of the family and a fantastic friend. I love you, Chewy!

Anyone that’s ever owned a dog has favorite dog stories. As a dog lover and devoted owner, I’d love to hear them! Please share your favorite memories about your furry pals. Rural, urban, suburban…wherever you are or wherever you’ve come from, if you’ve ever owned a dog you probably have something worth sharing. So join in!

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11 thoughts on “Tribute to a Rural Dog

  1. Aww, Chewy is adorable. Thirteen is quite a run for a large dog. We have two large farm dogs — both mutts — one is almost ten and the other is seven. I almost feel like the older years are their best, their prime.

    • I agree. The older Chewy gets, the closer we become. I’ve gotten incredibly sentimental about her in the last few years, probably because I know she’s getting old, and because I’ve been at school. I only get to see her once or twice a month, and it just doesn’t seem like enough. Our home is going to lose something special when she’s gone, and my parents have agreed that they don’t want to get another dog until they retire. (My sister is actively looking for a dog of her own, though…)

      I love big dogs. I think small dogs are cute, but there’s just something that draws me to the big ones. 🙂 Thanks for commenting, I love swapping thoughts with fellow dog-lovers!

    • “Bear” is one of our nicknames for her. When she’s in full coat, she looks like a lion, when she’s trimmed down she looks like a fuzzy little baby bear! Thanks for reading and commenting, and best wishes kicking butt in the ag blog word, Judi! You rock.

  2. Kelly
    Nice story. Chewy is a member of the family, that’s for sure. We just have to appreciate each day with her. She knows she’s loved.
    Love ya, Mom

  3. A very nice story – thanks for sharing.

    I have so many stories about my old dog Brodie that I wouldn’t know where to start – from hunting with her to having her help herd the cows.

    She’s also 13 years old, mostly blind and deaf and she was diagnosed with diabeties a few years ago. She’s on a special diet and requires shots of insulin twice a day, but that has only brought us closer.

    Her nickname is “Stinky” because she has never met a skunk that didn’t need to be investigated…..

    She is the farm’s nurse. From new borns to anyone or thing that has an injury, she’s right there and won’t leave until she convinced the situation has been resolved. I can’t tell you the number of times she’s given up a nice warm comfortable bed in the house to sleep in the cold barn with a sick or injured animal.

    I’m afraid the end is near but I’m sure, if she could, she wouldn’t change a thing about her life

    • Thanks for sharing, Dean. Brodie has obviously had a fantastic life with you! When we think about all the things that dogs do to make our lives better throughout theirs, then it doesn’t seem so unreasonable to spend a little extra time and money to help them in their later years. Chewy has been such a blessing to our family, that my stepdad and mom are jumping at any chance to help her stay mobile for longer. It’s the least they can do to make her more comfortable and keep her moving, after all the little ways she’s improved our lives!

      Thanks so much for sharing about Brodie. I love comparing “notes” with other dog owners!

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