It’s so hard to know where to begin. My mind keeps traveling up and down the timeline of his 11 year life.
From the first time I saw him in the breeder’s kitchen scrambling to fetch a rubber dog toy, to the freezing Michigan winter nights where we’d play endless games of fetch in a foot of snow.
From the day he was hit by a Ford Escape yet miraculously walked away while the driver’s side quarter panel crashed to the ground after impact, to the day he left my Michigan home to live at my father-in-law’s ranch in California.
From the time he played the gentlest version of tug of war I’ve ever seen with baby Elise, to the time he heroically protected Miles by chasing away three hungry coyotes.
Chino brought an incredible amount of energy and love to my family all the while being the most loyal and sweetest creature I’d ever met. Underneath that super muscular tough-guy exterior was a submissive soul with a heart of gold that exuded pure happiness 24/7.
Chino was a natural ranch dog. He quickly buddied up with the ranch’s original dog, Target, and roamed the 20 acres every single day to ensure everything was in its right place. Up and down the hills, into the creeks, drinking from ponds, chasing deer and who knows what else wandered on to the property. He worked hard and played even harder. He loved to steal carrots from the horses at breakfast while avoiding getting kicked.
The ranch is eerily quiet today. When I heard my in-laws wanted to sell the ranch, I had a hard time imagining what his life would be like post-sale, and now I know that day will never come to pass. He wasn’t meant to live in a suburb, confined to a small backyard, unable to explore and run. I know everyone who cared for him gave him a great life. A much bigger life than probably what even he imagined for himself. Sometimes my wife and I would joke about how he “had the life” compared to his litter-mates: getting to be the ultimate ranch dog in the Santa Cruz mountains where he could run and sun himself all day long. My family loved him just as much as he loved us. And I know my in-laws loved him just the same. My life instantly and infinitely improved that day when he picked me at the breeder’s house.
Chino was like a son to me before my boy Miles was born. No dog can compare to Chino, because to me, he wasn’t just a dog. I’ve always felt like he was Elise and Miles’ big brother. And now he’s gone. There’s no way I could ever forget him. He was the best there was, and we were all lucky to have met him.
In some ways, living on this ranch for the past 6 months has been incredibly difficult. I do believe that things happen for a reason. But today I realized that if we hadn’t come to the ranch, we wouldn’t have had the privilege of being with Chino every day. Who knew this weird path to normalcy was going to include the opportunity to see Chino and be there for him at the end.
I love you so much Chino. Thank you for being the best dawg a guy could ever have.