Our son J sent an e-mail this morning letting us know that their family dog, Titus, had died in the night. I think Titus was about nine or ten. He’d been diagnosed with diabetes two weeks ago, and he’d declined steadily since then. J had been with him during the night, and the children, V and L, got to say goodbye to him in the morning. Needless to say, it was very sad for everyone. Both Katja and I got teary-eyed when we heard the news. The death of a pet isn’t identical to the death of a human, but it has many of the same ingredients – sudden loss, disbelief, pain, grief, a flood of memories.
I’m sketchy about Titus’ history. To the best of my recollection, I think he’d been abandoned on the streets of New Orleans, and one of J and K’s friends had been taking care of him. The friend couldn’t keep him, so J and K took him in. They’d been in their new house in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, and their entire Mid-City neighborhood was completely flooded. J and K stayed with friends in various temporary quarters for a while, and J brought Titus up to live with us in Cincinnati for a couple of months. We’ve always enjoyed being a three-dog household, so Titus was welcome. In fact, Katja strongly wanted to keep him permanently, but he did wind up going home. Titus was an extremely mellow dog who simply adjusted to the sheepdogs and tried to fit in. Mike and Duffy rarely play together, nor did the three dogs play with one another, though they liked to hang around as a pack. Titus, in his own quiet way, showed his affection to the humans. He wasn’t pushy, but he’d come up and rub against our leg, looking up with his soulful eyes. I think he’d had a difficult early life, and he didn’t ask for much other than a little occasional attention. In particular, he’d like Katja to rub his tummy. I’d put all the dogs on a single three-way leash and take them out on Ludlow Avenue. On several occasions African-American men asked me where I’d gotten the pit bull. I told them about Titus being a refugee from New Orleans. One guy said that, because of his clipped tail, Titus had probably been used in dogfighting. If that were true, I could see why Titus had been abandoned. He was so sweet, he would have made a terrible dog fighter. Sort of like Ferdinand the Bull. I asked J about his breed, and J said that Titus wasn’t a pit bull. He thought that he had a lot of American Bull Terrier in him.
Titus has always been an important part of our family visits to New Orleans. I enjoy walking in J and K’s neighborhood, and Titus has always been my faithful companion. A little chubby in his older years, he was poky walker. Like Ferdinand, he liked to stop and smell the roses. But I’d say, “Come on, Titus,” and off we’d go. Despite his masters’ initial worries, Titus was excellent with the children. J and K were careful to keep the kids’ “manhandling” to a minimum but Titus seemed to understand that gentleness was the appropriate demeanor. Last year K brought home a second dog, a small black terrier who they named Iko. If Titus was low-key and kind of mopy, Iko was the exact opposite, high in energy and very engaging. He made lots of overtures to get Titus to be his playmate, but Titus just sort of put up with it and didn’t reciprocate much.
It’s going to be a sad time for a while in J and K’s household. Everybody’s going to miss Titus. In some ways, it’s all incomprehensible, especially for the children. We’ll miss him when we next visit. So long, sweet Titus.
-JML (2-3): Thanks Dad, what a sweet tribute to a great dog.
-Phyllis S-S (2-2): Dave, Please accept my condolences. What a lovely personality Titus had. pss
-Donna D (2-2): oh, david, how very sad. i remember you all wanting to bring him home with you.... i'm so sorry. donna