He responded to many names, Bit Bit, Little Guy, Prince Boy, and Dassler but his actual name was Adi Dassler Gumbs Harris (he was named after the founder of Adidas - Adi Dassler). I’ve always wanted a dog. I begged my parents for a dog but they would never let me get one. When I finally moved out on my own to New York City and moved out of the dorm, I found an apartment that would let me have a dog. After years of searching for the perfect dog for me (many of you know how particular I am), I found Dassler. Born of show dogs (he had papers that I lost years ago to prove it), Dassler was born July 29th, 2006 in Brooklyn, NY. When we first saw him, he was shivering in the corner and was so tiny compared to his more playful, slightly larger brother, who I wanted to take home, but Louise insisted on getting Dassler. I brought him home to Harlem on October 30th, 2006 in a dog carrier on the train and from that moment on, my life was never the same.
Dassler was so much more to me than a dog or even a best friend -- he really was my companion. He has been with me through the most joyous moments of my life and the most difficult. He was with me when I finished my dissertation and completed my doctoral program. He was with me when I traveled across the country for my first job. He was with me through Louise’s illness and her death. He was with me and helped me through my long recovery. He was with me when I met Kim (in fact, she walked him for me and that’s how we became friends). He was with me when I bought our first condo. He was with me when Kim and I married. He was with me when we moved to the Midwest. He was with me with I became a tenured professor and a director of a research center. He was with me when I became a mom. It’s hard to imagine what my life will be like without him.
Dassler has enriched my life from the moment that I brought him home. He was a playful puppy, fun and protective dog, and relaxed and seemingly wise senior dog. Although he wasn't a huge fan of the outdoors, he loved his food. Dassler would get so excited and twirl in the exact same direction towards his food bowl when he was about to eat. He gave the best cuddles and snuggles you can imagine. He was also a great traveling companion. In fact, I’m sure that Dassler has traveled more than most people I know. He has gone on numerous cross country road trips. He's ridden in planes, trains, and automobiles. He’s traveled everywhere from San Diego, California to Sacco, Maine. He’s been to Niagara Falls, Yosemite, the Sequoias, Joshua Tree, and more. He’s even traveled internationally into Canada for a trip to Montreal. Dassler has lived on the East Coast, West Coast, and Midwest. He’s traveled to and has seen so many different cities ranging from major metropolises like NY, LA, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco to smaller cities like Memphis and Santa Fe, and even vacation destinations like P-Town on Cape Cod. He has lived in Harlem, Pasadena, Placentia, Fullerton, Long Beach, Whitefish Bay, Bay View, and finally, Shorewood. Dassler’s final trip will be back to New York City later this summer, where I will sprinkle his ashes in the same spot where I sprinkled Louise’s ashes.
Deciding to put him to sleep was the most difficult decision we ever had to make. I really kept thinking we could somehow save him or find the right combination of food and medications that would work for him, but it never happened. However, his last days were filled with so much love and attention, and he was able to muster up the energy to go on a few long final walks with us. Since he spent the last couple of years of his life on such a strict diet and was only able to eat prescription dog food I let him indulge in his final days. His last meal was a hearty breakfast of eggs, hash browns, and all of the bacon he could eat. He ate so much that he actually didn’t want to eat anymore, which was the first time I’ve ever seen Dassler full. He actually turned down bacon.
I truly loved Dassler more than almost anything on this planet and would have done anything for him and tried my best to take care of him and give him a good life. I know I will always miss him and, with the other deaths I’ve experienced, time does help heal a bit, but I am aware that it will take a long time and I’ll probably never quite be the same. I’ve learned and have grown so much as a person because of the responsibility and love that came with him. I find solace in the fact that he’s no longer in pain and in the immense love we gave each other. Dassler was a sweet, kind, gentle, and incredibly loyal and loving dog to the very end. It was always obvious just how much he loved us. He leaves behind a devastated and heart broken family who will always miss him and cherish the memories that we were able to make with him. He might not have been the healthiest dog or even the perfect dog, but I finally did find the perfect dog for me and I’d do our journey together all over again! I’ll always love and miss my little guy.