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I cannot remember exactly when I got Parker, but I believe it was in August of 1993. I got Zeppelin in the fall of 1990 and found Roadside on the Friday before Labor Day of 1991, I believe. I think it was in August that I found Parker. The picture to the left was taken on the set of the PAWS Christmas photo shoot in 1993. (The next day I was Santa Claus.) I am fairly sure that the picture was taken in the same year as I got Parker because I really wanted a picture of his bright eyes and big ears. While I might have gotten him in 1992, I certainly had him by 1993.

One evening near dusk, I was in Minor Park near Red Bridge Road and Blue River Parkway and was talking to someone in a car. There were other cars around and I thought I heard a car door close. Shortly thereafter we saw an animal walking through the parking lot and by that time there were no other cars in the area. There were houses around; but, if he belonged at one of those houses, they were at quite a distance and he would have to cross Blue River Parkway, which is a fairly busy road. It was dark and there were coyotes howling in the distance.

The dog had a blue collar on, but he had no tags. We speculated whether he belonged to someone or whether he had been abandoned. My friend thought he belonged to someone and would just go home. Remembering the car doors closing, etc., I reasoned that he was abandoned and was very worried about the nearby road and the coyotes. I already had twelve dogs and Roadside and had no business picking up another dog, but I did. When I got him home it appeared that he was fairly well cared for, but he did have some fleas. I called a service to report that I had found the dog, but no one had reported a missing dog to them. I took him to my veterinarian who had never seen him before.

Well, at any rate I now had another dog and named him Parker, because I had found him in a park. He was my happy and sweet little friend until he passed away very unexpectedly on May 15, 2002.

It is impossible to describe what a great little dog he was. There was nothing (except a groundhog baby) that existed that he was not a friend to and he made friends very easily. He would go right up to my neighbors walking up and down the street and try to make friends. Once when my aunt, Marguerite, who loves animals was visiting, she was about to leave and was sitting in the car. Parker climbed right up on her and laid down right on her chest. He loved to lick and snuggle. If I had let him he would have licked my face away. I let him do a little more snuggling than licking.

He generally got along with all of the animals. While Zeppelin and Jake and Jack do not get along, Parker got along with all of them. He did have a little run in with Bo when Bo was living and Bo dislocated Parker’s hip, but considering his size and there were twelve other dogs in the house, he got along pretty well. The exception was a baby groundhog. I had a family of groundhogs in the back of my property. I was working outside and realized that one of the babies was out near where I was working. Parker was with me. I went in the house for some reason. When I came back, Parker had the baby groundhog in his mouth. It was dead. Parker looked so proud carrying that baby; but, of course, I was not happy that his animal instincts won out that time.

I never had to worry about my cats with him. I could leave him with them without fearing that I would lose a cat. He and Marble often slept next to each other and Marble often rubbed up against him, which he tolerated.

I will never forget his bright eyes and big ears. When he was attentive, those ears would perk up and those eyes would brighten and it would really make him very cute.

He never quite understood how little he was. Everything was his size as far as he was concerned, and he feared nothing. Once, there was a stray dog or perhaps a coyote in the neighbor’s yard. Fearless Parker chased it through the woods and onto what is now 150 Highway. Of course, that animal could have torn him to shreds. He thought nothing of chasing deer although one swift kick of a deer hoof could have done him in.

Furthermore, he was a very independent cuss and liked to wander all over the place. My fence is designed primarily for bigger dogs and he found that he could slip easily though the larger squares of my farm fence, so fencing him was almost impossible. If I did not watch him he would be gone checking out who knows what. Generally, he would go in one general direction, but he would never come when called – unless he was done exploring. Finding him in the dark was impossible due to his small size and black/brown fur. In his life, I spent many hours hunting him down, often with the sound of coyotes nearby. He never was impressed when I told him what short work they could make of him – and what a small meal he would be. Sometimes when I could not find him, I would say to myself that I ought to just let the coyotes have him; but, of course, I was always very happy when I found him.

Even 24 hours before he became sick, he was up to his obstinate and independent ways. I put both Zeppelin and Parker outside before I went to bed – in the dark. Suddenly, I realized that I did not know where Parker was; I thought he had gone down into the creek bed. I started calling him and he would not come. Suddenly, I realized he was standing on my porch just waiting to go in. Now, Zeppelin would have come running up to me, excited that I had called. Parker was on the porch like he was saying: “What are you so worried about; I am right here; let’s go!”

Having learned about Parker’s penchant for independence and wandering, I have wondered about how he came to be in the park where I found him. Did he get out of his fence and wander into the park? Or, did someone dump him off in the park? In the first scenario, there is someone out there that is feeling the pangs of losing him as I am now. Or, there is some scumbag out there that dumped off the neatest little animal that could walk the face of the earth.

In the last few years I would let Parker and Zeppelin out to walk down to the end of my lane to get my paper. Getting Parker to come back would be a chore. He always had to sniff everything along the way. I remember when I was in kindergarten (long ago), I was often late to school because I would lose track of time because I would stop along the way and investigate things that interested me. I often told Parker I understood what was going on, because I did the same thing, but that I really needed to get back inside my house. Of course, he usually used his dilly-dally tactics to get attention. He would not come, but when I approached him he would lie down and roll over, hoping to get a little chest scratch. Often, I would give him a little attention, and he would start coming, only to get distracted again.

He often did another thing that reminded him of me. Once when I was about seven or so (I believe), my mother called me and I pretended not to hear (I probably did that more than once, actually). Often, I would call him and he would sit down and look around like he was saying, “I really did not hear that!” or “Your are not calling ME are you?” Of course, he was hoping I could then come to him and give him a little attention. I did not mind giving him that attention, but he was getting (yes, demanding) attention already in the house.

As I said, the end came for Parker extremely unexpectedly. When I came home late on May 14, 2002, nothing seemed wrong. Over the last few years I have lost all ten dogs that I had when I moved to my present residence in 1989. Additionally, I have lost a dog and cat that I got since then. In fact, I was hoping I would have a period when I would not have to deal with the grief of losing another of my animals. I am very close to all of them and need a little period when I do not have to deal with another loss.

The first sign of trouble came about 3 am on May 15. I was going to put the dogs out so they could do their business before I went to bed. Zeppelin ran right out the door, but Parker did not get up – very uncharacteristic for him. I looked at him and could tell something was wrong. I went to him and it seemed that his abdomen was bloated and he did not want to get up. I picked him up and he was very weak. He did walk around a bit and had a very good bowel movement, which would not be consistent with a gastric problem. I considered calling my veterinarian, but it was after 3 am and his office would be open regularly in just a few hours. I elected to wait until normal office hours.

I was going to let Jack and Jake stay with me that night. I put Parker in bed with me, but Jack and Jake were too intense for him. I put them in their room. Parker stayed with me a little while but went elsewhere to sleep. In the morning Parker was still alive, so I took him to the veterinarian first thing in the morning. They were going to X-ray his stomach or whatever was necessary. As arranged, I called about Noon and learned that Parker had passed away about an hour after I had left him there.

If we could only see into the future, we would know what to do. I would have preferred being with Parker when he died. In retrospect, I wish I had just kept him at home. But, what if his problem was treatable; he might still be alive due to the doctor visit.

Apparently, Parker had an enlarged heart; Dr. Welch thought he may have had a heart attack initially and then another there at the clinic. We will never know and at this point it really does not matter. I do not know how old he was when he died. I had him for nine or ten years. When I first got him, he already had gray in his muzzle. He very well could have been 14 or more years old.

All I know is that I lost a really great friend!!!! I am going to miss his happiness when I come home at night. I cannot leave the other dogs in the house, so that excitement and enthusiasm on coming home will be gone. Those little paws jumping up on me will not be felt. That high-pitched bark will not be heard. I am going to miss being able to scratch his chest with my foot as he lies under my computer desk as I work on the computer. I am going to miss the way he used him paws to draw my hand to his chest so he can get a chest scratch. And, of course, not having his happy and excited attitude will by my biggest loss!!!!

I will forever regret not getting a couple of pictures that I intended to get. One, I wanted to get a picture of Parker looking off to the side when I was calling him when he tried to make me think he did not hear me. That would be best with a camcorder, which I did not have at the time. The second picture would have been one of total serenity. Two weeks ago, I was mowing and Parker and Zeppelin were watching me mow – they looked so peaceful and contented watching me. I wanted to get a picture of it, but when I realized what a great picture it would make, it was too dark. I had intended to get the picture the next time I mowed.

Parker was the littlest dog I ever had, but I would not trade him for anything!!!!