This blog is mainly supposed to be about Bear, my service dog. My inspiration for thinking a service dog would improve my quality of life came from the bond I have with my Boxer Harley.
Harley was born in April 2004. He became my dog in August 2004. I was single, in the middle of being discharged from the Air Force. My life was so chaotic but it really helped having Harley (even if he did chew up literally everything he could! Not to mention he is an escape artist!). I spent a lot of nights cuddled on the couch with him. When I came home for Christmas I brought Harley with me. I even brought a framed picture I had taken of him! He was my little baby. Harley was there while I packed up boxes and moved from Georgia to Tennessee.
When I met my husband I even brought Harley over with me the nights I would stay the night with him. That didn’t go too well the first time because Harley managed to find one of Louie’s dad’s hats and chew it up to nothing. I am sure my husband wanted to strangle the dog! Harley was used to sleeping in bed with me but there just wasn’t enough room so he was moved down to the floor. When I got pregnant I saw a change in Harley. He was very protective of me and sorta bit someone. In Harley’s defense, he was trying to protect me (so he thought) and the situation was unusual. We had a friend in the back yard building us a BBQ thing and he tried to come in the back door with a tool. Harley stood between him and the door and growled. He thought Harley was just being silly and walked past him where Harley nipped his hand. He tried to keep coming in the house (poor guy) and Harley got him by the leg. In came the trainer for Harley.. lol!
When Nikolaus was born Harley adored his new little baby. He carried on his protective nature toward him. If Nikolaus was in his swing, and you weren’t family or very well known in the house, Harley would stand between you and Nikolaus and growl. When Nikolaus would cry Harley would run to see what the little human was up to. Nikolaus crawled all over him, pulled legs, pulled ears, played with what is there of a tail, Nikolaus would even eat Harley’s dog food. Harley would patiently sit back and watch the little human eat his food. He was so patient and good with Nikolaus.
Harley was a master of escape. He regularly jumped our 8ft wooden fence in Memphis. Usually he would just lay in our front yard though waiting for us to come home. When Louie and I went on our honeymoon we kenneled him. I warned them he was an escape artist and he proved me right by climbing out of the first enclosure they put him in. I did pick an indoor kennel for this reason (looked like a big converted house.. not like a pound). They found him the next morning sleeping on the couch with his leash chewed up. Oddly he decided to search out HIS leash and that was the only thing he chewed up. The second night they put him in an enclosure with a top on it (chain link pen with chain link on top). The next morning he was on the couch again. He chewed through the chain link. That night they put him in with a blind Great Dane thinking Harley would be too scared to try to climb or chew out. Well, the next morning Harley and the Great Dane were buddies, in the pen still though. If Harley didn’t want to be somewhere, he found a way out.
Harley has always been good at knowing when I was sad or down. He would crawl on the couch and cuddle (like we did before the husband and kids came into my life). So when I heard about service dogs and heard that you could train your own, I was so excited… until I realized Harley only loves his family… everyone else is pretty much a chew toy. I was sad I couldn’t use him. I love Bear and I know that with time and experiences together we too will have a wonderful bond like Harley and I do.
I noticed a few weeks ago that Harley was eating less and less and sometimes would go a day without eating at all. I thought about taking him to the vet but it seemed like he would wake up the next day and act pretty normal. Yesterday though he wouldn’t even get out of bed to take my son to school, an event he gets ridiculously excited about every morning. He looked like he was in so much pain. I took him to the vet but things aren’t looking very good. He has lost 4lbs and his blood work and symptoms all point to cancer. The vet sent off his blood for a second opinion and to verify the findings and I am supposed to get a call today to talk about “options”.
Best case is that he just has an infection somewhere and the antibiotics he is on will make him better and be back to himself. I want Harley to have the best quality of life. I want to do everything I can to help him get better but if this is something with low to no survival rate I want his last days to be as pain free as possible and not make him suffer through anything. Losing Harley will be rough on the whole family. All I can do right now is to be optimistic and try to believe this is an infection that will clear up and my happy goofy Harley will be back to himself in no time.