I just came back from the cinema. The movie I saw was Marley & Me – the story of the lifetime of a certain labrador. The movie is based on a wonderful, funny and touching book by John Grogan and the film is also deeply touching but I am sure a person who has not been a dog owner will have a hard time understanding such emotions. I had read the book at a point in the life of our family when our dog had just passed away and Trop, because that was his name, was no usual dog. In this text I would like to share with you some stories from our life together.
We found the dog, or rather found eachother in the area around our countryhouse. I was six and we were cross-country skiing with my mother when we saw a dog running along the road in the distance. My mother whistled and he stopped for a second but then he kept on running.
That afternoon, and it was winter with about -15 C, we were coming back from the country when we saw the dog again. My mother said to my father:” Stop, I’m not leaving this dog in here”, and he did. She went out to get him. The dog sat down on her feet. She didn’t have a leash so she took off her scarf and tied it around his neck. They then returned to the car and Trop sat down beside my legs and put his head on my lap and I said: ”So we now have a dog”, and we did. Trop was a german pointer, a skeleton of a dog at the time when we found him.
My parents posted ads in newspapers, that they had found him, but no one replied. It turned out later on that he was a dog that never got lost so someone must have kicked him out.
The Marley & Me movie reminded me of some of the moments we shared with Trop. He was truly a family member, a brother to the little girl I was at the age of six and a true friend until his last days when I was eighteen. The time with Trop was some of the best years in my life.
When I was little, we would play lying or rolling on the grass in the country. I would also often just lie beside Trop and pet him. He was this gentle, wise angel of dog.
When I got older, my mother would drive me to school and he would accompany us, sometimes even taking the elevator ride up, which he really enjoyed because everyone petted him. They would walk around the area after I had started my first class. Mom actually acquainted her now best friend through Trop. Basia asked whether she could walk him with her. My mother agreed.
He was also a freqent visitor at my father’s office where he would often sleep in the corner behind the conference table or cuddle up to the secretary or the accountant.
He, however, wasn’t always an angel, sometimes the demon would switch on in him. He loved swimming, water was his passion and he would bathe in the little river next to our house regardless of the weather, be it frost or not. Back in they days, the Wilanów fields weren’t full of apartment blocks as they are now, they were this huge dog walking area and the place where Trop would fullfil his passion, beacause of course, as his breed would suggest, he had been trained to be a hunting dog. The only problem was that he was scared of shots and it was probably the reason why someone got rid of him. But back to him. On the Wilanów fields, we would let him loose and he would find pheasants, hares or chase after ducks running in the river and my mother would chase him along the bank – to Wilanów and back, which wasn’t that small a distance. He also had a different type of barking for every type of animal he was chasing.
Trop was also a dog gentleman, and sometimes he would fall in love and would regularly escape his collar and run to the lady dog’s door – every evening. In the countryhouse, he would always give his place to any guest ladydogs that were present. His biggest and returned love was the lady dog belonging to the man who later became the President of Poland. When he did, Saba (Trop’s love) had to move to the presidential palace.
I also remember that at our apartment in Warsaw, the entire family would fight for a place on the couch in front of the tv in my father’s study and it was usually Trop who won.
Trop, or Tropcio would also not attack cats, which made him welcome in different cats’ homes. Friends of the family loved having him over, to the point that some of them got their own dogs after his visit. And while tracing game and water were his passions, he was also a family guy. He would know when someone was sad and would try to console you.
He also always knew when someone was opening the fridge and would wake up from his deepest sleep. In his old age, he went deaf, but he still knew when the fridge was being opened. At some point, before we realized he had lost his hearing, we thought that he started being disobedient, but that wasn’t true. Once we recognized his deafness, we learned that we could reach him through sign language and point in which direction he should go, and it really worked. Before a pedestrian crossing, I would lower my hand and he would touch my palm with his nose, then we crossed, and when he was in front of me, he would look back for me to show him in which direction he should go. Truly amazing.
Another scene I remember is from the lake area in the North of Poland. My mother and I would bathe in the lake, and Tropcio was constantly running around, sniffing and only coming back to rest for a few minutes, lie down in the lake and drink some water or… to swim to the center of the lake to chase some ducks. Unfortunately, every time he arrived the ducks were already gone, so he was disappointed and would eat dragonflies (protected under polish law) on his way back issuing sounds of disapointement.
Anyway, these are just a few memories of Trop’s life with us. I believe, in our family, he found his true happiness and with him, we certainly did too. My biggest regret is that, in the midst o f my teenage years, running around after a certain boy I did not spend enough time with Trop during his last moments with us. At the age of around 16 (according to the vets he arrived in our family at around 6), he fell sick but he got out of it- my mother had spend two weeks driving to the animal hospital to sit with him through drip infusions and everyone, including the staff of the hospital was very happy that his health was back. But after further two weeks he fell ill again and his hind legs got paralyzed. In some instances he was ok, but in others, a horrible pain captured his entire body and he would look at you hoping that you would help him. The diagnosis was that it was a failure of the neural system and that his life could only be prolonged for maybe 2 further weeks which would include him suffering. We made a decision to put him to sleep – probably one of the most difficult ones for one to make.
I remember our last moments with him at the hospital and his eyes… And then we were asked to leave for a moment and after a while the staff brought him to our car. I remember every moment of that day and the movie today just brought them back to life. My mother and I could not calm ourselves down and would just cry and cry (this would continue for months). My father, who does not show his feelings easily was also deeply shaken. My boyfriend, or boyfriend candidate at the time could not understand why I was so full of sorrow but the guy is not even worth mentioning and Trop – one of the dearest friends I’ve ever had most certainly is.
My last moment with Trop was him already passed away, on a blanket in the trunk of our car and me sitting beside him, talking to him. He was dead but his body was still warm. This was the end of the life of a dog angel, may he rest in peace. We will never forget him.