death, dogs, healing, life, memories, photography, the big picture

Who was Gleason…

My new friend, Mary Ann, asked me who Gleason is, based on my email addy of Gleasonsmom. Well, Gleason was our bulldog, arguably the most ‘human’ dog I’ve ever known. We had just lost our Shar Pei, and Charley’s answer to losing one pet was to immediately want to get another. I emphatically said no when he first spotted Gleason and wanted to take him home, but when he was still available two weeks later Charley considered it to be a ‘meant to be’ sort of thing, and I relented. He was such a sweet puppy as we drove home with him, and then we put him down in the kitchen and he became Cujo! All mouth, chewing whatever he came into contact with, including ankles! Thankfully that stage was over with fairly quickly, and he became a very undemanding, easy to get along with, dog. Unless the food or water bowl was empty, in which case he would pick them up and drop them on the floor. Metal bowls, rolling around and around on the rim, you get the picture.


My favorite photo of Gleason is with Riley, my granddaughter, on the window seat of our house in MD. When I glanced into the room to check on them I was horrified to see them, Riley’s arm in Gleason’s mouth and him gnawing away. But she calmly withdrew that soggy arm and inserted her other arm, so I grabbed the camera and started clicking. Their photo session culminated in this big slurp of Gleason’s tongue right up the side of Riley’s face. I only wish you could see it as clearly as I see it in my mind’s eye. Their relationship had been cemented earlier that day when again, I checked on them, and Gleason was laying in the living room chomping on a large-sized Milk Bone dog cookie, surrounded by many other dog cookies on the floor around him, and Riley was busy extracting yet another one from the box and tossing it in his general direction. Clearly I needed to pay closer attention

When we got him I insisted that he was Charley’s responsibility. All the walking and tending to were his job, and they were inseparable. Every Saturday was spent at Charley’s friend’s coin shop, where various other fellow coin collectors would stop in, and Gleason had a relationship with all of them. Gleason loved to go there, and not only because they always ordered lunch, and whatever Charley had for lunch Gleason had also. I think he liked being part of the gang. As much as he loved going there, and was waiting patiently by the door for Charley to get ready to head to the shop, he just marched out the door very matter-of-factly, no crazy dog shenanigans like I see every day from my current dogs. Like I said, easy to get along with.

The two of them spent Sundays at the VFW across the street from the office watching whatever sports were on the TVs and getting hand outs from various VFW members. Gleason would lay quietly on the floor, with the handle of his leash hooked under the leg of Charley’s chair. He was so much a part of the routine at the VFW that when there was a party Gleason was invited. A buffet table was set up by the door, and the place was full of round tables for dining, and lots and lots of people. We were all enjoying ourselves, eating and having a beer, when Charley stood up and leaned forward to reach for his beer that he had left out of reach on the table. Then he went to sit back down and disappeared! Out of view except for his feet, which had popped up into the air. He was flat on his back, and of course we were all concerned that he was okay, and he was, but as we looked around to see what the heck had happened all we could see was Charley’s chair moving steadily toward the food table, being towed by a very determined bulldog on a mission! If only there was a video.

His most surprising activity came one day after watching a neighboring golden retriever diving into the lake to retrieve a stick. Gleason wanted in on the action. Savannah would only bring the stick back so far, so Gleason jumped in and picked up the stick and brought it onto shore. He was on the retractible leash at the time, and the visual I got was that Charley was going to reel him in if he got into trouble out there, but didn’t, he loved it. We had to throw the stick for Gleason after that. Bulldogs aren’t supposed to be able to swim due to their body build, but I guess no one ever told Gleason he was a bulldog.retriever2

So that’s who Gleason was Mary Ann. He was quite the character, kind of like Charley…