Hans enjoying ottoman time

Where do I begin to speak about our dearest Johannes? First, as my son has said, he was a BOGO from Haile's Angels Pet Rescue. We had an interest in a female red dachshund and Hans was her bonded partner. The rescue's representative told us they could be separated but if we took both they'd only charge us one adoption fee. You can see the love they had for one another in some of the photos from their time together. They were named "Poncho" and "Lolita" by the rescue but we called them Hans (Short for Johannes Brahms) and Hilde (short for Brünnhilde of Wagnerian opera "Der Ring des Nibelungen").

Like his mate Hilde, Hans was a puppy mill breeder dog. He had value because of his beautiful chocolate color. We often referred to him as our autistic dog as he would not want to look us in the face, often turning away, when we came up close. His toes were spread from being in a cage for the first 7 years of his life. He would try and snap at anyone that came close to his backside. I don't know what the heinous people did to him for that to be his response. He tried to snap at me early on and I laid him down on his side and grunted in his ears. He never tried that with me ever again. We had developed an understanding of who the alpha was and from that point forward we were good friends. He had to go back in to get his dental after our adoption. We got a call informing us he was still intact. They had failed to realize the as his parts were small and nearly encrypted. He was neutered at the same time he had his dental done (please spay or neuter your pets).

Like most of our dogs, Johannes, had a variety of nicknames beyond the rather common, Hans. His was known as "Choco the Wonder Dog," "Hanku," "Hagu Dogu," "Hanser," "Goolet," "Slug Boy," "Sweenus," "Pupsterama, "Hop Along" … the list goes on and on. He also had a wonderful bark that was more of a "whoop, whoop."

As he was with us longer and longer, his eyes went from being slits to beautiful orbs of deep reddish brown. He began to take in more and more of the world. Though he was a small dog, he was still the male and thus rulers of all things canine after the alpha (me). He learned to walk on a leash as that was our options when we visit our cabin in NC. We grew to trust him more and he was able to go outside with our supervision off leash even when on our mountain in NC.

Whenever anyone would come home, he would jump up and down with his front legs, and sing a chorus of lovely barks for all to hear. If he was feeling overly affectionate, he would rub his nose against a persons leg, sometimes the whole top of his nose, sometimes just short jabs. He was a snuggler, loving to just sit and cuddle next to his fellow dogs or us blessed humans. He truly had learned how to love.

About age 13 Hans developed pancreatitis. We fought hard and brought him back with chronic use of Metronidazole. That seemed to work for about 14 mos. While at our cabin this past summer (2017) he developed runny stools again. The regimen of Science Diet I/D and a low-grade course of Metronidazole had stopped being effective. We took him to a great vet, Dr. Julie, in Morganton, NC. With a hard hit of Metronidazole and then off it completely, along with a change in the fibrous Science Diet W/D, we were able to firm up his stool. We played with the proportions of W/D and canned senior diet to find that 1/3 of the senior and 1/6 of the W/D kept him regular. But, we needed to put weight back on him. So, we started making sweet potato mash. I got my used 1950s Kitchenaid mixer out and mashed those boiled sweet potato chunks to mush fit for a doxie. He also developed skin lesions. We tried topical treatments with shampoo and moose to no real results. That meant a course of antibiotics. The lesions cleared up!

After returning to Florida, and a freakin' personal mess, we checked in with our local vet, Dr. Hamilton. Things were looking good with Hans even having gained a ½ pound. That was a few weeks ago. Three days ago he started being finicky with his dog food. I had to add warm water to encourage his eating (he had most of his teeth missing from a dental back in the spring – he had 5 left … and the bottom canines were just enough to keep his tongue from flopping out of his mouth). Two days ago he would only eat the sweet potato mash that he loved so much. Yesterday he wasn't eating at all. We took him to the vet for a last chance to turn this around with some antibiotics, steroids, appetite stimulator and pain meds. Last night he bowel movement was lose again, nearly pitch black and shiny. His innards were shutting down.

As this always happens on weekends and holidays – and this being Labor Day weekend was both – Dr. Hamilton told us to call if things didn't improve. We scheduled his last vet visit for noon, Sunday, September 3, 2017. Hans passed over the rainbow bridge at 12:20 p.m. There was little fight left in him. He passed before even half of the solution had been injected. It was peaceful.

He had come to us as an abused puppy mill dog with little use for human companionship. The last morning with him I sat in our usual chair with one of our Ikea dog blankets wrapped around him for warmth. This is where he had come to belong. We love you Choco. Please tell Candy, Sugar, Laddie, Winnie, Bessie, Millie, Connie, Hilde, Ellie, Danny, and Tessa I love them and will join all of you when God decides it's my time to go.

For a Good Dog • Odgen Nash

O, my little pup ten years ago
was arrogant and spry,
Her backbone was a bended bow
for arrows in her eye.
Her step was proud, her bark was loud,
her nose was in the sky,
But she was ten years younger then,
And so, by God, was I.

Small birds on stilts along the beach
rose up with piping cry.
And as they rose beyond her reach
I thought to see her fly.
If natural law refused her wings,
that law she would defy, for she could do unheard-of things,
and so, at times, could I.

Ten years ago she split the air
to seize what she could spy;
Tonight she bumps against a chair,
betrayed by milky eye!
She seems to pant, Time up, time up!
My little dog must die,
And lie in dust with Hector's pup;
So, presently, must I.

[Click here for more photos of Hans]