I "met" Karri (online) through a mutual friend – my sister, Debbie – about 4 1/2 years ago. Karri’s deep love and respect for animals was apparent right away. She lost her heart dog, Blade, in September 2007 and memorialized him shortly thereafter with a tattoo that she drew herself.
I’ve always felt a friendship with Karri because of our mutual love of animals and, particularly, our strong bond with our furry black and tan boys. I’m so pleased that she agreed to tell us all about her relationship with Blade for this series.
I was friends with a breeder, who as a graduation gift from UK in 2000, gave me the pick of the litter. I knew I wanted a male. I received a call in the middle of the night on November 14th that Lady had given birth. Three days later I traveled down to see the parents as well as the little black and tans. I fell in love 12 times that day. On December 11th, I returned and chose Blade. Or rather he chose me. We put all the males aside which left me 5. There was this one that was really feisty. When all his brothers and sisters had conked out from playing he was still going. He was chewing on my shoelaces, pulling on my hair, wrestling and giving me this look like he knew he could wrap me around his paws. I put a small red collar on him and he became my Blade.
He came home on January 4th. I had a few days off work and a long weekend so it was perfect puppy bonding time. I quickly learned crate training was the way to go after he chewed a hole through the wall of my laundry room. I went home every day at lunch time to let him out and feed him an apple while I ate lunch. For two-plus years he was my faithful lunch date and a great way to de-stress during the day. Each night during the warmer months we’d take long walks through the neighborhood and park. We’d sit in the grass and stare at the sky or chase each other around the soccer fields. He was my constant shadow anywhere I went – car shows, pet store shopping, errands around town, canoeing. He also traveled with me anytime I went to my parents who lived on a lake in another state. He had his very own covered deck where he could hang out and watch the boats go by. He also loved to swim and on the hottest days I would have to drag him out of the lake to let him rest. He’d swim next to my mom, his beloved Mammaw. And he’d help my dad, his Pappaw, gather sticks for the bonfires at night.
Blade became more than a dog to me. He was my canine soulmate. We shared a lot of the same traits: strong-willed (nice way of saying stubborn), fiercely loyal to those we loved, protective and territorial, mischievous. We were also both pranksters. I had multiple flower gardens in my backyard and one of them by the grill had oyster shells that I used for steaming oysters on the grill. Blade decided one day that these were good toys and would carry them around the yard or crunch them in half and leave them wherever he felt like it. I ended up gathering all of the shells and putting them away. I thought I had gotten them all but one afternoon Blade was outside and I had gone back in to get something to drink. When I went to the door to go back out there was a single oyster shell right at the edge of the patio and Blade was sitting in the yard watching me out of the corner of his eyes. When I went to pick it up he came running at me ready to tackle.
Every year near his birthday I threw him elaborate birthday parties. It started as a small affair on his first birthday and turned into themed parties with a homemade dog cake for Blade and his guests, homemade dog treats, goodie bags and desserts for the human guests. I had themes ranging from Snoopy to Paws & Bones to German. And each year he found a way to steal a piece of cake before the official cake cutting. When it came time to open gifts he was a pro at unwrapping the boxes and pulling things out of bags. He had plenty of practice each Christmas when Santy Paws visited. Some nights before the holidays he would sit in front of the fireplace staring at his stocking.
I had an Old English Sheepdog growing up so I had always loved dogs. But Blade was special. He had burrowed into my heart in a way that no other animal ever had. I fell in love with him each day: when he would lay on me with his beloved toy, Smoochy and nurse on it; when he would stand at the back door and ring the sleigh bells to go outside. Even when he would tip the canoe over while we were paddling down the creek, that black and tan had become my best friend. A being that I count on to be there for me at any time ready to lift me up and keep me fighting.
Losing him was the most devastating thing I have ever experienced. At the time I was in the middle of nasty divorce and he was my comfort, my strength, my biggest cheerleader. I was always hyper aware of Blade so the first indication that something was wrong, I was at the vet office. Thankfully I have two very wonderful vets that would fit me in, run tests, keep him during the day to check him out and also let me call them after hours. Unfortunately I lost him on September 19, 2007. Although I’ll never know what took him from me, the specialist and vets suspect some form of spinal cancer. I’ve often questioned the reason for his leaving me when I needed him most.
A few weeks after I lost him, I ended up at a tattoo parlor. In a bout of inspiration I had drawn a tattoo in his honor. I call it My Blade and it’s a constant reminder that he’s always with me and will always give me the strength I need to keep on fighting.