Not long after the Twin Towers collapsed, while I was still living in Austin and we were all kind of scared and sad, my roommate, Liz, and I decided to adopt a dog. We went to the Town Lake Animal Shelter, and I saw the perfect, most adorable dog for adoption. But, there were already four people on the waiting list for that one, so we adopted Sebastian instead.
But, before we even got him home, while sitting with him in the back of
Liz's old Mercedes, rambling down the road, we slammed into another car -
Welcome to Your New Family, Sebastian! We were all fine. Sebastian was nervous in cars for a
couple of years after that though.
He was a lanky dog, who leaped about. He probably needed a few acres to really be happy, but a small back yard worked pretty well. Especially with overhanging branches, and plenty of squirrels. For years Sebastian's favorite pastime was barking and jumping into the air at squirrels that were taunting him by flicking their tails; as if he could ever reach the 15 foot high branches. He could get up to 6 feet, so maybe he was working up to it. Years later he went through a phase of barking at airplanes and airplane trails, though he didn't bother to jump at them.
Sebastian was a good dog; Even though he bit my friends, and bit me once pretty hard too; and even though he sometimes attacked other dogs while on leash and wouldn't let go of them as they whimpered and their owners got mad at me; and even though he killed our beloved chicken "Laverne I"; he was a good dog. He was with me through a few challenging times. He wasn't much of a lap dog and the most he ever did to comfort me was to lick my hand a couple of times as if to say, "there there," but he was present and I needed him. He was a great road trip dog, once he got over his fear of crashing. Sebastian was my sole companion on a few trips to West Texas, a few trips home to Corpus Christi, the four day drive that brought me out to San Francisco, and a few days along Highway 1 I remember fondly.
When we got him, they told us he was about 1 year old, which would make him nearly 17-years-old at his death. He was old, so this wasn't entirely unexpected, but it is particularly hard because he has been a constant presence in my life for nearly 16 years: From single law student in Texas to married, non-practicing, police oversight, middle-manager, in California; through six rented apartments and one mortgaged house. He was always pretty spry. People thought he was a puppy even just a couple of years ago. Besides our chicken, he killed a number of non-pets: a rat, a mouse, and several baby possums that we know of. He was pretty healthy too; he never really had any problems; until recently, that is.
He nearly faded out a couple of times over the last year - he would stop eating and get lethargic. A change in diet generally fixed that. Just in the last six to nine months he began having problems standing up - we found him with his four legs splayed out on the concrete, unable to move, a few times. He would go on walks occasionally, but couldn't go far. More recently he started having nose bleeds. But that's all over now.
I assume heaven for him is whatever hell is for squirrels. Sebastian can climb trees and jump 50 feet high! Good boy! Go get those squirrels!