Apollo, mostly a Rhodesian Ridgeback (we say mostly because he did not actually have the ridge but otherwise, looked identical to one) was rescued from the streets of Livonia, GA back in August 2011. After posting his information for a week, no one claimed him and he was not microchipped. The rescuers called him Tyson when we first adopted him and they estimated him to be about a year old. My wife and I had just lost a beloved dog Zeus about 4 months earlier. My mom and dad, also living in GA, called me and said a vet friend of hers had found this dog wandering the streets with a couple of other dogs. They knew we recently lost Zeus and wasn't sure if we were ready to adopt another one yet (we lived in TX at the time). My wife and I said we were not sure we were ready yet but "just send us a picture of him". Well, the rest is history. Labor day weekend 2011 we drove to Meridian, MS to meet my parents roughly half way to get him. We stayed in a pet friendly hotel that night and drove back to TX the next day. Hard to believe that was over 12 years ago. In April 2023, we got the dreaded news that he had splenic hemangiosarcoma. It was caught in time and had not ruptured so we opted for surgery, which was successful. He was on chemotherapy, mushroom supplements, carprofen, Chinese herbal supplements, fish oil and cancer fighting foods like broccoli, blueberries and natural oats. We were told by the oncologist that most dogs don't make it past 6 months with this kind of cancer. We were fortunate to get 9 months and I thank God everyday for that extra special 9 months. Tons of walks, car rides everywhere, lots of beach time, plenty of barking at the mailman, UPS and Fed Ex, hogging up the entire couch, the list could go on for pages.
Here are some of our most memorable moments of Apollo (in no particular order):
1) Hated the mailman so much that when we lived in Charlotte, he actually broke a window in our bedroom trying to go after him. I ran back there when I heard the crash of glass and the mailman was just standing there frozen. No one was injured 😊.
2) All the many names we came up with for Apollo over the years - Mr. Manfredo, Apollo Creedence, Mr. Man, Baby Bearski, Master Poodles, and probably a dozen more. No wonder he never listened...he never knew what his name was!
3) Absolutely no regard for pooping anywhere, anytime - right on the sidewalk, in the middle of crossing the street, directly in front of people sunbathing on the beach, right in the middle of the dock boardwalk. When you gotta go, you gotta go!
4) Loved to go paddle boarding - so much so that is was difficult at times to keep him from jumping off the board and start swimming away (doggy life vest on, of course).
5) Absolutely could care less about toys - we would bring home new toys all the time and he would give them attention for maybe a minute at most and then never look at them again. His sister, Athena, on the other hand, LOVES new toys.
6) Meat and potatoes kind of guy and a bonafide turkey junkie, just like the dad on A Christmas Story.
7) Also hated school buses when he was young. While still living in TX, he actually pulled my wife down trying to go after one in our neighborhood and almost got run over. Thankfully, that dangerous behavior did not last long.
8) Two times in TX he tried to escape - one time he snuck past me and came out the interior garage door when the garage was up. I froze and he froze. Right when I said his name, he took off down the street. Luckily, he caught a scent just a few houses down and I snuck up on him and picked him up and carried him back home. My wife was upstairs working and saw the whole thing. The second time he got out an unlocked gate and headed down the street full speed. We jumped in the car and caught up to him and said "you want to go for a ride?" and he came and jumped right in the car. Now at least we knew how to get his attention.
9) A few years ago, he got bit on the nose by a copperhead. We had no idea until I walked into the bathroom late one night and he was laying on the bathmat, looked up at me and the whole left side of his face was swollen and droopy. After a rush to the emergency vet at 11 pm, we were told that his bloodwork was great, he did not need any anti-venom or medication and to keep him relatively calm for the next couple of weeks. Thankfully, copperhead bites are well tolerated by large dogs. After that happened, we check the yard every night before we let them go outside.
10) The cantankerous side of Apollo -- my wife and I work from home and I am willing to bet the office door was opened and closed no less that 50 times a day because he wanted to come in, then go out, in then out... sometimes mere minutes apart. He would scratch on the door and moan to go out but to come in, he would bark this high pitched goofy bark and whine. Often that one meant, "please open the door and chase me around"😊
11) Right after Apollo was adopted in September 2011, my wife and I took him to run the Turkey Trot 5k in November. Boy did he ever look handsome in that orange bandana!
12) The explosive side of Apollo -- Since my wife and I work from home, Apollo and his sister Athena would be out there with us most of the time. Since he hated anything outside his yard, particularly the mailman, there would be an immediate, no warning barking eruption. My wife tends to be very jumpy and it scared her half to death every single time. She would get so mad at him at times for that. We would let him out and he would run back and forth and bark constantly until the mailman was clearly out of site 😊.
13) We found a little hard spot in one of his legs when we first adopted him we were concerned about. An X-ray revealed an air gun pellet. Might have been terrorizing some farm animals before he was rescued because that is what you do in life as a street thug. We still have that pellet 😊.
Like all of us that have lost our beloved fur babies, I can probably fill dozens more pages with memories and experiences. While losing a pet is painful and hard, and all of us need time to process that loss, we do find peace knowing we did absolutely everything to the best of our ability to give him the kind of life every fur baby deserves. Right up until the very end. Apollo's sister, Athena, will be 9 years old in April and we feel awful that she no longer has a brother. We got Athena at 12 weeks old so she has been around him her entire life. Will we adopt again? Absolutely...when the time is right. Only God knows when that time will be but it will just happen naturally, without being forced, which is how all of our past pets have been adopted. We will never have anything but rescue animals.
There was a big hole in our hearts when Apollo left us. We are still going back and forth between crying and not crying. I know he would tell us to not be sad because although we gave him his best life here on earth, nothing compares to the life he will live in perpetuity in God's kingdom. Apollo, our baby boy, we say not "goodbye" but "see you later" as we look forward to that day when the glorious reuniting comes. We will love and miss you always.