Sunday August 17 2014
His lifetime dream was to catch a jackrabbit. It was a pipe dream, of course - jackrabbits can run 40 mph (faster, I bet, when they are chased by a pack of dogs), and Austin could get up to maybe 10 mph on his best days, when his short legs got out of churn cycle underneath his wide (sometimes very wide) body (I liked to call him a white sausage).
He dreamed in his sleep of catching a rabbit - legs twitching, mouth quivering - and he loved to chase his dream on our Dog Walks. He was never discouraged, even though it was plain to everyone, him included, that it would never in a million years happen.
Then there was the day we were out on a Dog Walk up on the rim. A jackrabbit shot out of a bush. Girlie and Spigot were off like a shot after him, yelping in a frenzy. Quincy
barked and gave chase too. Three dogs in three spastic directions, trying to run down a zig-zagging jackrabbit through the maze and hurdles of desert sagebrush.
And then there was Austin. He leaped to the chase - rather, in slow motion, his legs spun in place and he didn't get anywhere fast, as the rabbit and dogs had already zipped circles around him, sprinted through the next county and back already, as Austin labored up the hill, hard as he could go, panting like a steam engine.
Next thing I saw nearly knocked me over - Austin had the rabbit in his mouth. I think it was more like Girlie and Spigot chased and Quincy barked the frantic rabbit in a triple-back-serpentine-upside-down circle, and it just happened to leap into Austin's oncoming, unaware, panting-open mouth… but it didn't matter how he caught it, because Austin caught a rabbit.
None of the other dogs have ever been able to say that.* I have never seen him so proud of himself, ever, not even when he ate half of Stormy's Christmas stocking full of horse treats, plastic wrapping and all.
I'm more of a cat person - cats mostly like you; they can be soft and cuddly or playful; they can take you or leave you; curl up with you or disappear for a few days. I guess I like their independence most.
It's few dogs that really get to me, but Austin was the one who got under my skin, when he rolled over on his back in front of me so I had to stop and scratch his ample belly, every time;
when he forever hopefully chased rabbits; when he got his head stuck in a pumpkin;
when he ate half of Stormy's Christmas treats; when in his golden years he still fiercely chased (hobbled and barked after) the neighbor's big German shepherd (who kindly pretended to still be afraid of him); even, in the end, when he could only do the one thing he did best: barking at visitors.
Farewell, my pal Austin. They're all going to have some mighty big dog footprints to fill behind you.
Here's a video Steph made of a dog walk - Austin is the big white one with the big white wagging tail.
*Quincy subsequently swiped the rabbit out of Austin's mouth, the cheater!