While not my childhood dog, Kerbe was a big part of my family life and I am saddened by the passing. Kerbe had been a member of our family since the summer I graduated from high school, 1993. I helped my parents pick him out. My dad and I had been on a mission that summer to get a new dog. We hadn’t had a family dog since we had to put our dog Bruno (who was really suffering horribly) to sleep when I was 16. Despite my dad’s original determination to never get a dog again, a few years later he found himself wanting one. I always wanted one.
We looked around at a lot of kennels and animal rescue organizations to find the perfect dog. We were originally looking at grown ones. My mom was resistant to the idea of getting another dog, stating that she liked being able to walk around her back yard without looking for “land mines.” However, we decided one day to take Mom with us on our search because we knew we could appeal to her love of animals. If she saw a dog she liked, she would not be able to resist taking it in. So we took her to the Humane Society in Cleveland where we found Kerbe.
Kerbe was just a little puppy, no bigger than you could hold in both hands. His mom, I think, had been hit by car leaving him an orphan. He was in a little cage with another puppy orphan, not his sibling because it was a black and orange colored puppy of another type. My mom took one look at Kerbe and she started cooing. Poor Kerbe was all scared and dispondant in his little cage.
Being a puppy, Kerbe was on a waiting list. The Human Society would wait until an appointed day, and then they would call, in order, each person on the list and if the person didn’t want the puppy anymore, or they could not come in when called, the next person on the list would get called. We were the fourth people on the list. Puppies are popular and everyone wants one. We were kind of sad because we thought we would not get him.
However, he was our lucky puppy. They called my dad on summer morning on a work day and my dad, being self employed, was able to leave his job site to pick up the dog. He had me and my mom meet him at the Rapid station on W. 150th to pass him off to us so that we could take him home. Afraid that he was going to pee on me doing the car ride home, I brought box to put him in. Kerbe was shivering and scared the whole way home. He looked like he thought the world was ending.
But it didn’t take long for Kerbe to find his place in our home. When he realized he had a nice cage-free life running around a backyard, he soon became king of household. I still remember my brother–the last hold out on wanting to accept a new pet in the yard–trying to ignore Kerbe while he kicked a soccer ball around the yard. Kerbe, the chipper little puppy that he was, kept jumping at my brother’s feet. He would make my brother love him and eventually my brother did. (My brother went on to become one of Kerbe’s most ardent trainers, making him a very obedient dog.)
Kerbe started out as an outdoor dog, like our Bruno was, but my mom–like a mother with a newborn–couldn’t stand his cries outside (and probably was fearful the neighbors would get annoyed) so she started taking him in. He was the first indoor dog in the E household.
For fun, we used to put him in boxes when he was a puppy to watch him try to climb out. He’d stand on his hind legs with his big paws against the side and his ears hanging over his face as he looked out at us. It was so cute. I think he have a picture of that somewhere.
Kerbe was a fun dog. He was very obedient and smart. You could leave a full plate of dinner sitting on a coffee table in the living room and he’d never touch it. My brother taught him to go to the corner of the living room whenever we were eating and there he would stay–looking at us with sad, dejected eyes–until we were done. (Yes, the E’s ate dinner in the living room in front of the TV…)
Kerbe was always glad to see us. Whenever we came home, he had to find something to put in his mouth to bring us when we walked through the door. I used to tease him by saying, “Mama’s home” when she was gone just to see him run crazily around the house, ripping up newspapers, and frantically trying to find something to put in his mouth to bring to her. (My dad used to tell me that was mean… okay, it probably was.) But whenever one of his people came home, Kerbe would greet us at the door with a gift–a chewed up nyla-bone or an old plastic liter pop bottle or bits of newspaper he’d freshly chewed. I think this was the Lab in him. He never chewed our shoes, though, or anything that I remember he wasn’t supposed to (maybe not the newspaper).
Even though I no longer lived with my family, he always seemed to recognize me. He seemed happier to see me than regular non-family guests. My mom used to say that he knew his sister. He never jumped on anyone or became overly imposing on guests. He was just a good, easy-going dog. He also liked to sit on your foot, as if he couldn’t get close enough to you.
Even in his old age and with all his ailments, he still tried to get up to greet me when I visited my parents. Sometimes I’d watch him struggling to get up and I’d just feel so bad. He was so spry and energetic in his youth. It stinks that pets don’t live as long as we do. They make us grieve over and over again. People like me, though, can’t resist getting more pets. In the short time they have on Earth, they give us so much warmth and companionship. I’d hate to live without that.
Kerbe was a good dog. I hope there’s a pet heaven and he’s running around in it, free from arthritis and pain. I hope he’s chasing my childhood cat, Crystal Mew, around. Maybe Tanya’s (my cat who died a few years ago, the one my husband adored) there too. In that pet heaven, there better be an endless supply of things to chew, for Kerbe was a master destroyer of dog bones and plastic liter bottles. (I had to buy him the size bones that you buy for a German Sheppard.) I will miss him–his spotty tongue and wiggle-waggley tail.