*disclaimer: i wrote this in a weepy, drunken, post-new-years-eve moment of melancholy.  please forgive my sentimentality.

the day that ivan was born, november 2, 1997,  i was seeing RENT at the nederlander theater on broadway. i didn’t know at the time that my beloved pup was whelped while i was ogling adam pascal from the second row.  it is only fitting that such momentous events occured simultaneously.

we brought our weimaraner puppy home on december 22, 1997.  he was 7 weeks old.  his skin was far too big for his body, and his eyes were glacial blue, when he dared to open them. he spent most of his time burying his wrinkly nose into my mother’s coat, because he found other puppies his size terrifying.
we met him when he was only a week old.  he was the second largest pup in his litter, the largest having already been spoken for. since all weimaraners look very much the same, with grey velvet fur, we colored his tiny front nails with a magic marker to tell him apart. mom and i visited every week when he was tiny, and i picked him up by gripping him with a hand around his tiny chest.  his painted paws would cling to my hand as if to say, “for god’s sake, don’t drop me!”
his big debut was at a wrestling tournament, the very same day we picked him up. those burly, manly athletes melted into puddles at the sight of ivan’s clear blue eyes.
ivan the terrible was a hit.

his mere existence caused turmoil in my home: mom wanted him. papa didn’t. so at age  7 weeks, 1 day, we conceded and brought him back to the breeder. my parents, having only been officially married for 1 short year, found that their relationship was in jeopardy over this lack of communication. of course, once my mother gave in, so did my father, and we were back to fetch him again within a day.
he chose to never make a peep until he was 4 months old, when my father frustrated him enough to coax a yelp out of him.  he was utterly silent, except for his massive  lung capacity for snoring.  he has been impossible to shut up since then.
i’m sure people say this about every unwell pet, but he has been more than a dog. he spoiled us rotten. from now on, we will look at any dog who can’t open doors as lazy. stupid, even.  ivan is that great.

i will have a hard time thinking of him in the past tense.

he is beautiful, 130 pounds of  muscle, broad chest, and long legs, and rivals some of his great dane friends.  people stopped us in the street when we took him off the compound, just to tell us how stunning he is.  he hates bicycles, and would pull kids off of them and not let them back on for fear they would get hurt.  he was afraid of the dark, thanks to my habit of waking him in the night to accompany me outside.  he has a toy box and can identify all of his toys by name, but he is afraid to hurt anything that squeaks.  he has a peculiar way of nibbling on the people he loves, like he is grooming a member of his pack, but he always nips a bit of skin in the last moment, to keep us on our toes. he likes to shell his own pistachios.  he is a notorious bum-pincher, so much so that we called him a dirty old man in a past life.  reincarnation usually works in the opposite direction, with humanity as the apex.  we said he was paying his karmic dues:  he was a bad man, but he’s a good dog.   in 12 years, i have never heard him growl.

considering his size, it’s  miraculous that he has lived to age 12. it’s not that his ultimate infirmity is unexpected, you’re just  never really ok with a member of your family weakening.
mom called this morning to tell me his hips just won’t cooperate. he can’t drag himself out of the bed, which means he can’t be make it outdoors, and he depends on my parents for his most personal of acts.
i can’t blame them for putting him down.  it’s the humane option.

i will say goodbye to him on saturday.

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