I never knew I’d miss having a 70 pound dog sleep on my legs every night, but since Derby disappeared on July 27, 2011, I’ve taken to wearing socks to bed to keep my feet warm. I still haven’t found anything to fill the huge hole in my heart and soul.
Long story short, our son went horseback riding and Derby went with him. They were 1/2 mile from home when Derby wouldn’t go any further. By the time Todd got home and we went back with a truck to get Derby, he had disappeared. Our search ended today. We found him at the end of our pasture on the opposite side of the road about 50 rows in the cornfield. Poor boy almost made it home. Sadly, the heat was too much, and his journey in this life is over.
I can tell you that there’s a huge void in the Bowman family. We’ve had Derby since he was four weeks old. He would have been eight this September. And what a character he was! He and Tess became inseparable from day one. (Sadly, we lost Tess four years ago and I still can’t say her name or think of her without tearing up).
Derby growled all the time. It was very intimidating, but that was his personality. He did it when he was a few days old. Yes, we were there from the time he was born and while all the other puppies made whining sounds, Derby decided to be heard he had to growl! The day he was born we said we were bringing him home.
He earned a special place with all of us for his crazy antics like pulling the dog bed with Tess on it around the living room when she wouldn’t play with him or they would both grab a tug of war rope and Derby would pull her around with that, hating our son Tye’s dinosaur that growled and attacking it furiously, giving the FedEx and UPS drivers a heart attack when they pulled up by diving in their trucks for treats (hey, they started it! They decided it was good idea to give him dog biscuits!), when Tye showed him in 4-H and during obedience he’d growl and bark and get so excited he couldn’t even sit when he was supposed to (although, check out the picture, he kicked ass at agility), and mostly when someone dumped off a ten pound Chihuahua and the big bad pit bull stood in the hall while she ate his food!
Derby had fun, but he took his job of protecting our family very seriously (as did Tess and that ended up causing her to get hit by a car). He even saved not only Tony’s life but Cage’s as well. Tony went to feed the horses and he didn’t realize that two of them were fighting outside the door. When he walked outside, one of the horses kicked him in the head and knocked him unconscious. When he came to, Derby was throwing a fit and snapping and biting anything that came close to Tony. He actually wore a path in the dirt from going back and forth in front of Tony keeping the horses away.
From the day we brought Cage home, you didn’t dare get between Derby and his baby. Then when Cage wasn’t quite one (about five weeks after this picture was taken), he was with Tony at the barn. Tony was replacing a broken water hydrant by the fence. He turned around to pick up the new hydrant and he said, “Derby let out the most vicious growl and bark I’ve ever heard and one of the horses squealed.” Tony dropped the hydrant and whipped around to see Cage sitting INSIDE the pasture with three horses trying to get to him and see what he was all about. Derby was actually grabbing the horses’ noses shaking as hard as he could, his hair was standing up, and he meant business. Tony said he was slobbering he was so mad. Tony said the five feet from where he sat to where Cage sat seemed like five thousand. He pulled Cage under the fence and before he could pick the little guy up, Derby jumped on top of Cage and sniffed him, licked him, and made sure he was ok, then he looked at Tony like “He’s fine, you can have him now.”
This raised him to king status in our eyes and he pretty much got whatever he wanted. In the end, the only thing he wanted was to come home, I’m glad we at least got to do that for him. Rest in peace, our baby, and know you were loved more than anything. Run and play with Tess and give her a big kiss from mom and dad and know we’ll miss you both every day.