Friday, February 10, 2017

Chewbaca "The Beast" Hamlin


Chewy Hamlin, the World's Best Dog 

Today we laid Chewy to rest. 

You will not find sarcasm here today. You will not read about any feelings of relief. You see, of all the years I've complained about the hardships of owning a dog, I've never been more grateful for what Chewy has taught my family. 


Chewy is not our first family dog. We've had a couple before him. Farley, our first German Shepherd was dropped off about three days after I brought Tommy home from the hospital. With two babies in diapers, a puppy was the last thing we needed and so we found him a good home. Then came Brutus, our Great Dane. He was the world's dumbest dog. After he knocked Tommy down two flights of stairs we had to find another home for him. Stupid us for getting such a big dog, he clearly wasn't the right fit for our family. 

We knew we wanted our boys to grow up with a dog. Yes, even I wanted that for my boys. This time we didn't jump into it, we remembered that Farley was a really good puppy, it was just bad timing. We decided that a German Shepherd was the kind of dog we wanted. Easy to train (unlike Brutus), smart (unlike Brutus), and big enough to protect yet small enough as to not knock everything off the tables as it walks by (very unlike Brutus). 

We found a place in New Bremen, Ohio with German Shepherds. I'll never forget how excited Max and Tommy were driving up! We even invited Kendall, our niece, to help us pick out the perfect puppy. The breeders lived on a farm and had several different litters of puppies. The boys, Kendall, and I immediately went to the smallest, youngest crew. They were so fluffy and cute. Dan on the other hand kept looking at this older puppy, all alone. The rest of its siblings had been sold and he was the last one. Dan said, "Kate, look how calm he is. He's a little older. He will be easier to train. I think we should get this one." 

And he was right. 


And so we brought Chewy home to be a part of our family. From the very beginning he has been the most well behaved dog. Even off a leash, he never left our side. 


Where ever the boys went, Chewy went. 


He protected them and kept them safe. 


They were best friends. 


Often times Chewy was tackled, wrestled, and ridden like a pony. 

He would let the boys do anything to him. He was patient and kind. 


He loved going to the park. 


It's funny how going through pictures I didn't realize how big of a presence Chewy was in the background of our lives. 


 Chewy's full name is Chewbaca Hamlin. Obviously named after Star Wars. He's been called lots of different names but Chewy or Beast is what we called him the most.


It is an interesting story how he earned the name Beast. Many years ago, we decided to take a winter trip to Michigan. We packed Chewy up and sent him to Grandma's house for the weekend. A few days in, we received a call from Grandma saying that Chewy jumped the fence and ran away. It also happened to be record low temperatures in Ohio. There were two police departments looking for Chewy, as well as many family members and friends. Although there were many sightings, no one could catch him. He ran around Englewood for two days and then we received no news of sightings. The boys were old enough to be devastated from this and yet young enough to not really understand. We decided not to tell them until we came home. Arriving home, after the eleven hour drive, we told the boys we were going to pick Chewy up from Grandma and Grandpa's the next day. The boys were disappointed but were so exhausted they went to bed with little argument.

Dan decided to drive to Englewood, that same evening, and search where he was sighted last, the wooded area behind Krogers. Dressed in snow pants, layers and layers of clothes, and a ski mask, Dan grabbed his flashlight and walked out the door at 10:00pm. An hour later Dan called me, breathless and emotional. He said he walked around the woods and as he was just about to turn back he heard a rustling near a big pile of sticks. He called Chewy's name and from under the pile, out crawled Chewy. Dan dropped to his knees and ripped off his mask so that Chewy would come to him. Once Chewy recognized Dan, he ran to Dan, crying and barking. And this is how Chewy got the name Beast. He survived the wild for over three days in below zero temperatures. We never told the boys the story until several years later, you know, just in case we needed someone to watch Chewy again.


We would often take him to dog parks. 


He was the best dog. He taught our boys lessons about life that we couldn't. It was unconditional love from the very beginning.


And then we bought our camper. Nobody loved camping more than Chewy. Until this past summer, Chewy went on every camping excursion. The best was our trip out west. He barked at wolves and bears, and lead the trails for us.


Even as the boys got bigger, Chewy was always around. For the past ten years he has been in the background of our family.

It wasn't until the past six months we noticed a change in Chewy. He started losing his balance and his walking was a bit off. It progressed so quickly to the point he couldn't get up and lost the use of his back legs.

It was time.

We all went to the vet and circled around him as he fell into a peaceful sleep. We told him how much we loved him and how important he was to our family.

I said my goodbyes a week ago. You all know how I feel about Chewy. He was a pain in my ass most days. I hated the constant vacuuming. I hated how he was always under my feet making me trip around the house. But a week ago I laid on the floor with him and told him that the feeling I felt the most, despite ALL the other feelings was gratitude. I was so grateful for what he did for my boys, the lessons he taught them about love, patience, duty, and friendship. I was grateful that he kept my boys safe when I left the house. A quick errand here or there was ok because The Beast would protect them. I was grateful that he was our dog, our family pet.
Ten years ago I watched my little boys pick out their puppy and today I watched my adult-like boys, shovels in hand, bury their best friend. Even after death, another lesson taught and learned about life.

Chewy, you were the best dog on this earth. We know you are flying high in heaven with all the other dogs and many other loved ones. May you forever rest in peace.

Chewy always under my feet.

Tommy's best friend.
The boys and the Beast.
Yellowstone Park
Camping out west with Chewy.