What kind of dog do you get when you want a chihuahua-sized dog that's guaranteed to be friendly? A Papillon, of course!
In the fall of 1987 (a few months after Taco died), I decided it was time to get a new dog. I found a Papillon breeder but no puppies were available. The breeder was expecting a litter around Christmas, so I contacted them again in December. Still no puppies. I asked if they had a "defective" dog.
He was a master at getting out of the yard, and at only 6 or 7 pounds, had no trouble squeezing between the fence poles. One day, he simply wandered out behind my home, onto the highway shoulder. I was at work, but my friend Maria was in town for a visit and ran out in her bathrobe looking for my dog. I wish had the picture of her running down the highway after Thumper!
He was fine, of course. He always came back, pretending he had never been away ... Wandering down the street? It must have been my imagination!
Thumper never learned to sing, but he did have a good ear for music. He would always come into the piano room and curl up to sleep in his bed when the students came over or when I played. But if we made too many mistakes, that was a different matter. It was time to leave.
Towards the end of his life, Thumper became very scared. He didn't know what was happening to him. He started to bark constantly, for no reason. I soon realized he was going deaf and started to use more hand signals. I always caught his eye before talking to him. Gradually, Thumper relaxed and realized that he was still able to communicate with the world.
Victoria Day weekend in 1997, I changed dog foods. The brand was too fatty for him and he developed diarrhea. By the time I got him to the vet on Tuesday, he had already lost 2 pounds, or 30% of his weight. It was too much for his system. We tried for a little over a week to get him stabilized again, but couldn't. I brought him home for one last time and he died of a heart attack in my arms.
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