Our dog Webster was living proof that “on the eighth day God created Rottweilers.” He was a big, beautiful, protective, gentle, intelligent, mischievous dog who loved and charmed every single person he met throughout his life, including toddlers who should have been terrified by his size but instead sensed his sweet nature, called him “puppy” and rushed, fearless, to pet him.

My husband and I have no children by choice, and Webster not only brought great joy into our lives but also kept us from becoming totally self-involved. The demands of caring for a new puppy came as a shock to us DINKs but we stuck it out and were rewarded with ten years of more loyalty, love and laughter than we could have ever imagined. Webster had all the notorious Rottweiler stubbornness and sense of entitlement but a firm but fair upbringing and lots of love and attention (we both work at home) produced a wonderfully mellow and loving dog who still brings smiles to our faces even now when we have been without him for four and a half years.

We learned early that Webster also had the Rottweiler sense of humor and mischief. When he was still a pup, I used to take him outside to relieve himself during the night whenever I myself woke up to do the same. As he got older and was able to “hold it” until morning, he started to resent my disturbing his sleep to make him go outside and one night he decided to get his own back. He woke me up and indicated that he needed to go outside urgently so I dragged myself out of bed and downstairs with him running ahead of me to the back door. As soon as I reached it, he turned and ran back up the stairs and sat at the top “laughing” at me, obviously proud of his little ruse. I got the message and stopped waking him up to go.

Webster was our great “stress buster” and disciplinarian, always seeming to need a pat and a scratch when he sensed we were working too hard and making us adhere to a strict routine: “time for my walk,” “time to cook, Dad,” “it’s my dinnertime, Mom,” “turn off that movie, people, it’s way past our bedtime.” For ten years we did not travel anywhere together because we were never happy with the dog sitting arrangements available to us, but we had more fun staying at home with Webster than we would have had vacationing anywhere. Even now when we are able to indulge our passion for travel, we would gladly give it all up if we could have him back with us.

We were devastated when Webster was diagnosed with cancer and given “two weeks to two months.” It was a blessing that, because we work at home, we were able to care for him ourselves and for longer than we might otherwise have been able to do. As he got weaker (fortunately he was never in pain) we had to take turns staying awake through the night in case he needed anything, but we both felt it was a small sacrifice to make for a dog that had given us so much. And he never stopped giving. We were tormented by the decision of when/whether to put him down. It was heartbreaking to see our big, beautiful Webster looking like a bag of bones. Were we delaying the inevitable for selfish reasons? This wonderful animal took the decision out of our hands. We helped him outside one night to relieve himself, and having done so he hesitated for just a moment, trying to decide whether or not to go back inside the house, then he turned and without a glance back at us walked away to the most private part of the garden. It was time. My husband was able to catch up on some much needed sleep but I spent the night pacing around the house still hoping that nature would take its course before morning and yet trying to imagine how we could possibly go on without Webster in our lives. I felt as if someone had reached in and ripped the heart out of my body and my family. The vet came forty minutes after we called her and we petted and spoke to Webster as he was put down in the spot where he had chosen to go when he sensed it was time to move on. In a strange way, he had a “good” death: as weak as he was he brightened up when the vet approached him, for he adored meeting new people, and we were glad that he experienced a bit of happiness during his last minutes. And a few days later we were comforted by a beautiful card from the vet that said “Thank you for loving Webster enough to let him go.”

But his story does not end there. A few days before the first anniversary of his death we decided at the last minute to take a cruise, and with jet lag and the time change we forgot about the anniversary until the following day when we were about to leave the ship to explore Oslo. But a quick calculation told us that with the time difference it was actually still the anniversary date back in California where we live so we had not missed the day entirely, but we still felt that we had somehow let Webster down. Then shortly after, as we were walking toward the royal palace, which has beautiful parkland on both sides of the road leading to it, I remarked to my husband that it would be nice to meet some dogs if there were any being walked there. And less than a minute later a woman stepped out of the park on our left leading… a Rottweiler. We were stunned. What were the chances? Needless to say, we introduced ourselves and were in turn introduced to Saima, who even performed a little trick for us. It might have been mere coincidence but I like to believe that this was Webster’s way of telling us not to feel too badly about forgetting his anniversary. Still giving us joy and comfort as he waits by the Rainbow Bridge.

Margaret from CA