He entered our lives on one of those frightfully humid days that only New Jersey in August can offer. He'd been living with a family who couldn't cope with his separation anxiety and so they surrendered him to a local boxer rescue.
We were technically just going to foster him.
But he belonged.
Herc "talked." Constantly.
He was wise and he was gentle, loyal and trustworthy. He loved all children. He was the temperament tester for all of the foster dogs that followed him.
As he got older, his face started to show more gray, but he still had bounce.
At least, until the last few weeks. I noticed he didn't come running into the house after being in the yard, he started to walk instead. He'd still wiggle his nub when people came over, but he wasn't quite as exuberant as he had once been.
A few days ago, he started wheezing and coughing and having trouble breathing. I figured he had a virus and made an appointment with my vet to have him looked at next week. We didn't quite make it that long.
Hercules passed away this afternoon, peacefully in my arms. His big heart finally gave out on him.
Somewhere there is a place where every dog has a house and every house has a dog
There is always a warm patch of sunlight to snooze in
There are always cookies
And the water bowl fills itself.
Nobody says things like "Down!" "Stay!" "Out!" "No!" "Bad Dog!"
In fact, nobody's even allowed to say "Bad Dog!"
Only dogs get to be on the couch
And the bed
And no one gets mad at you if you lift the last piece of pizza
Right out of the box
You always get your ears scratched
And they get in line for the privilege of rubbing your belly
Naps are sacred
Cats aren't allowed
All the food tastes like hambone
And there aren't any pills you have to swallow.
Your joints don't hurt anymore and you can run and jump and play
Just like you did when you were a pup.
That's where I'm going, at least for now.
Someday, when you're on your way somewhere else, you'll pass by
And I'll wait for you by the gate.
Then we will finish our last journey together.
And there will be cookies.
Rest easy, big man. Mama loves you. See you at the Bridge.