My Best Friend Fonz

Three days ago Fonzie was a happy and healthy 13 year old German Shepherd. He never showed any signs of old age except for being a little hard of hearing. He loved looking for mice and rabbits and squirrels when I would walk him and his brother Ranger in the yard. He also looked forward to me jogging with him in the morning if it was nice out. He was not much into playing ball or frisbee, or doing fancy tricks, but what he really excelled at was being my best friend. In this he specialized. Ever since he was a puppy, he would do whatever it took to be next to me. He had to be physically touching me if sitting next to my side. Or he would pass up eating I wasn't in his sight. If I left his line of vision when I was working outside he would bark at me- a nice bark like get over here where I can keep an eye on you. I have had German Shepherds all my life and all of them were my best friends, but Fonzie took loyalty to a new and higher standard.

     I remember when he was less than a year old and he went with me to Wyoming. It was in November and I decided to go through North Dakota for a change. It was cold and I was getting sleepy from driving. Since I couldn't find a motel that was open in any of the small towns I drove through, I finally pulled over and slept in the back of my van. I had a sleeping bag that I zipped up, but I was freezing as the outside temperature was close to zero. So I wondered if the Fonz would fit in it with me. It was a tight fit, but he made it--his back to my stomach. He slept motionless the whole night, and I stayed warm as a baked potato. When I woke up 6 hours later, I learned that it had been close to 20 below with the wind chill. My van was frosty inside and out, but that night the Fonz and I caught up on some needed sleep and woke up refreshed. That was only one of the many times Fonzie saved me. He got me through that night and got me through many tough times since. 

     My former girlfriend was originally Fonzie's owner and she named him Fonzie because he kept his cool even when picked on by other puppies in the litter. He was the most curious and he was one of two runts of the litter. He was born with a hole in his heart that made a sound you could hear from across a room. The vet said with the right attention it might heal properly, but he won't get too athletic.

     When I think of it, Fonz and I were much alike. When he gained weight so did I; when I lost weight so did he. He loved pulling me on my sled dog bike, and overcame his athletic challenges. Not so with his big brother Ranger.

     When I learned that he was going to get shot if he chased any more chickens out at my ex-girlfriends farm, I wasted no time to go get him. I  remember turning into the long driveway at the farm and seeing Fonzie go wild on his short chain. He was so excited to see me I couldn't get him unhooked. But when I did, he ran straight to my truck and jumped aboard. The rest was history. I occasionally would take him to my jobsites because he was a good helper and companion. I could tell many more stories of Fonzie, but only I can really appreciate them. 

     Two days ago Fonzie suddenly started throwing up any time he drank water. I made an emergency visit to the vet, and they ran many blood tests and a few x-rays on him. They couldn't find anything wrong with him other than a low platelet count and an elevated white blood cell count. He was about to start hemorrhaging blood . They were able to stabilize him and re-hydrate him from a catheter tube, so I could take him back to my vet in my home town first thing in the morning. He looked like he was going to make it, but by the time I reached my vet he was in critical condition. He wasn't  in any pain, but it was too late. I will miss him.

--Fonzie's Friend

April 20, 2010