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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Goodbye, Dear Friend Hercules

Two weeks ago, we lost our big buddy, Hercules. John called him the "World's Biggest Lap dog" and it would be an injustice not to post a story or two about the Great Dane who made his home with us for so long. 

John adopted Hercules over five years ago. He was already five years old, full grown, weighing over two hundred pounds when John took him in. Hercules always brought our family a lot of attention whenever we were traveling with him.  He was a close companion of Jack, our terrier-beagle mix. Hercules and Jack were pretty much always together, from the living room where they would rest on opposite counches, to the neighborhood where they would roam together if they got away from us (before the backyard was fenced.)  My first encounter with Hercules was on my first date with John. We had dinner at the house, and when I first walked through the front door, these two crazy dogs came rushing at me, barking with tails wagging.  Hercules' tail was about two feet long and he got so excited, whacking his tail on the wall beside where I stood, that his tail burst open and blood was splattering all over the walls. It was quite alarming! I remember teasing John about not being afraid of the blood splatters on the wall leading down to the basement and about my being out on a date in the middle of the mountains with a complete stranger. 
I didn't know how to take Hercules at first: he was so large and intimidating, and yet, as gentle as a lamb. I would drive off to find him if he got away from the boys, and when I found him and called to him, he would jump into the cargo space of the Jeep and his huge tail would hang down. Several times, I had to try hard to not smash his tail when I closed the cargo door. Most of the time, he had this dopey kind of look on his face, but he was still pretty smart. He knew to stay away from the cats, and not try to steal food from Pork Chop.
Another special memory would be the day I brought Jeremiah and Peniel home, in June of last year. The boys were not used to indoor dogs, but I told them we had two big ones, and one small dog.  But I guess when you weigh 36 pounds like Jeremiah, a 178 pound dog that stands as tall as the kitchen counter is a little bit freaky.  I will never forget how the boys took one look at Porky and Hercules, and ran into our kitchen pantry, huddling together and shouting: "There's a horse in your house! It's a horse in your house!"  When Jeremiah finally came out of the pantry, I sat him on the kitchen counter and he looked around worriedly. His eyes found Jack, little scruffy, 30 pound Jack. "I yike the jello dog," he told me through his tears . . . but it wasn't soon before he learned that Hercules was the gentle one. Jeremiah played with Herc's tail, tried to ride him through the house, picked up his big feet and drove matchbox cars down his hip bone. Yes, he was a very patient old dog. He outlived most great Danes by 2-3 years, and he died peacefully on our back porch.

We Love you, Hercules! Rest in Peace!

"If there are no dogs in Heaven,
then when I die I want to go
where they went."

Will Rogers, 1897-1935

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