He was 3 when we adopted him from the Hinsdale Humane Society. Surrendered by his family, for reasons I have yet to discern, Bandit was featured on this newfangled thing called the Internet. Our daughter AJ, then 11, was surfing through shelter websites, saw his picture and read his back story:
The next thing I remember, we were headed to the shelter.
One shave-down (his fancy Shih-Tzu hairdo was matted) and one discounted neuter later, he was ours.
His poor health in the last two years of his life has made us forget how entertaining he was in his youth. He ran through our house in mad bursts of gray and white energy. He could leap effortlessly onto our bed. He loved to snap off the eyes on all of his toys. He adored his walks (three times a day because I read that somewhere in a dog care book). The first week, he ate a loaf of white bread, leaving slices under Charlie's pillow and assorted seat cushions. If you sat down, he jumped onto your lap and snuggled in. He sat on a chair and watched us eat dinner every night. He was devoted to AJ, his saving grace, and to our eldest. More than anything, he hated to be left behind, so we didn't.
Since 1998, various family members have acquired Shih-Tzus, seduced as they were by Bandit's soft coat and effervescence. The most recent Shih-Tzu is Rudy, my sister-in-law's beloved pooch. He hates everyone on the planet except Johanna.
In memory of Bandit, Johanna sent a generous contribution to Shih-Tzu Ground Zero, also known as the Hinsdale Humane Society. She wrote:
The amazing thank you letter from the Hinsdale Humane Society was the only thank you note I've ever received that made me cry. According to their letter, part of it hand written, Bandit's memorial gift was responsible for vaccinations for 8 lab puppies so they could go to new homes, treatment for a respiratory infection in an older cat named Bailey so she could be adopted (you know that's why I fostered and eventually adopted my cat Jingle Belle. She had a respiratory infection I had to treat for 3 months and no one would take her.) Also a litter of 4 kittens were given their first set of shots. Even if they made it up, it was so powerful! Wow!!!
When I go, if anyone wants to send a memorial, it will go to the local Humane Society so other people can find the joy, the love and the companionship my precious Rudy has given me (even if he bites other people).(When visiting Johanna, take bacon as a precaution. Just saying.)
It remains quiet around here.
We miss having a little buddy, but there is freedom in not worrying about who is available to go home and take Bandit out or give him a pill or rustle up a little Braunschweiger snack.
And every day is a little bit easier, a little less sad.
Mostly, we remember.