Stan the Man
(2006 – 6/01/2016)
Our heads are aching and our hearts are breaking as I look at the closed door that was once opened wide by Stan the Man.
Stanley came to us as a 4-month old feral puppy terrified of people, places, and all things new. With pockets full of hot dog treats, we gained his trust making tasty trails up our stairs and placing food bowls in showers. He soon came to understand that all people and places were not bad…especially those bearing hot dog treats. Like us, he never really cared for most people though.
Hours were spent sitting in the parked car stroking his trembling puppy body offering calming words as he discovered car rides meant the wind in his hair and sometimes getting dog biscuits at drive thru’s. He was the first dog that we ever trained. Stanley gave us the confidence and skills to help hundreds of dogs from the Humane Society for Animals work out behavioral problems before going on to their forever homes. Thank You Stanley for giving us this knowledge!
At 6-months old the vet noticed a serious problem with his developing body. He had no hip sockets! “This dog will be lame in a year. Put him down now and find yourselves another dog! There are plenty of healthy dogs out there needing homes,” the vet advised. A second vet concurred. I’m happy to say they were both wrong! Stanley never became lame despite his deformity. He ran like a deer and played with the best of them, and he lived another 9 1/2 years. We called him, “The Hip-less Wonder!” He was indeed our miracle.
The vets were right about the other thing though. There were many dogs out there that needed homes and during the next year 2 more entered our lives. We affectionately called the trio “The Brotherhood”. They went everywhere together and Paul tagged along. Or was it them that followed Paul? It didn’t matter since they were a pack. Three dogs and a man. They convinced him to drive them all over town in his 1996 Honda Civic with the windows rolled down in all sorts of weather. Rain, snow, cold, or hot it mattered not, the windows stayed down. I would laugh watching the happy heads each hung out the window of their assigned seating as tufts of lose fluff blew in the wind. What a sight they were! They really could turn heads. At a stoplight one day a man taken with Stan’s good looks and happy disposition offered Paul money to purchase our handsome boy after watching the pack drive down the road. Of course the answer was no, but Paul led the man to the Humane Society and helped him chose another dog to adopt. Because this man was smitten with Stan, a shelter dog found a home that day.
The best part of my day was coming home from work. Paul would hug me and Stan the Man would work hard to squeeze between us, it didn’t matter how tightly we embraced, Stan would push between us and whap each of our hips with his plume of a tail. “It’s official,” Paul would say. “We are now having a proper hug.” I guess there won’t be anymore “Proper Hugs.” I will surely miss my daily butt whapping. I never knew how good an official proper hug could be before Stanley. Thanks for the hugs, Stan!
Stan the Man had an obsession with doors. He wanted them open not shut and managed to find a way to get them that way. Many a day, we would come home to find that we were heating or cooling the great outdoors. “It’s cold outside,” Gracie Bird would announce. “It’s cold inside too, Bird!” I’d reply shutting all the doors and latching them tightly. Within minutes one of the boys would glance at the door which was all it took for Stan the Man to oblige by unlatching and opening the exit wide. The pack would rush out to party away with squirrel chasing or hole digging. Sometimes he would just open the door to spread his body across the threshold for a nap enjoying the best of both worlds…the house and the yard. Stanley was great at opening doors, but he never learned to shut them.
When people came to the house, Stanley would head for the gate to the pasture. People sometimes frightened him. Stan the Man was able to spring the pasture gate open just as easily as the house doors even when it was secured with spring clips, rope, and wire. There were times when he just knocked the gate off the hinges. The canine crew would rush into the nearby woods in all directions as we chased and called after them. He knew how to get rid of unwanted visitors, all right! Once we tired of searching and all the visitors had gone home, Stan would peek around the corner of the garage with his followers. All would be breathless and happy with mud covered feet and fur speckled with stickers as they returned from another adventure. We are really going to miss those wild times!
We should all enjoy our last day as much as Stanley. He achieved his bucket list all at once.
- Every morning should start with a massage from the man. Check!
- Send Mom off to work with a little piece of Stan Man. Check! (I brushed fluff from my clothes.)
- Go for a ride with “The Brotherhood”. Check!
- Go to Starbucks to say hi to his friends there. Check!
- Visit my favorite bank teller and get a doggie biscuit. Check!
- Get either donuts, sausage biscuit, bagel, or muffin to share with “The Brotherhood.” (We got a blueberry muffin at the bakery.) Check!
- Break through the gate and make a mad dash for it with the gang. (The painter showed up giving Stanley the excuse he needed.) Check!
- Romp through the woods. Check!
- Take a dip in the pond. Check!
- Dry off by running through tall grass collecting all the seeds and stickers my coat will hold. Check!
- Come back in 15 minutes so the grown-ups don’t worry. Check!
- Eat a hearty supper with some of Mom’s home cooking. Check!
- Let Mom and Dad take me for a stroll after dinner. Check!
- Stop at the barn and beg for a dental stick. Check!
- Sleep in my favorite place. Check!
Your family thanks you for this exceptional day. Stan the Man never woke from that sleep. You did go out with a BANG, my friend! I thank God that you did not linger or suffer.
As Paul arranges the stones on the dirt mound, howls come from the house. The dogs are saluting their friend in a mournful show of respect. Even Phillip’s voice, joins the chorus. I am grateful for the things Phillip learned from this great one. The closed door catches my eye once more. Was there a lesson for us with Stan’s open door policy? Should we step out of the safe familiar surroundings of our comfortable life and see what fun awaits us on the other side of the door? Maybe there is still a bit of adventure that we should explore. By staying open, we aren’t closing our doors to the opportunities that are ours for the taking. Perhaps we need to bust down a gate once and awhile and live on the wild side. Thank you Stanley for open doors. These are not bad lessons from a feral pup with no hip sockets that lived an unexpectedly long life filled with love!
I walked to the once opened door that was now closed and flung it wide. Stanley, where ever you are, keep those doors open.