The Life and Times of Napoleon

Less than a month ago, my family said goodbye to one of our dogs. He was 16 years old and had been losing the battle with a brain tumor since November last year. We knew it was finally time to say goodbye because he would get up and eat breakfast each day and after that just sit down and stare at a wall. He had zero enthusiasm for anything. He was also struggling to walk and use the bathroom. His quality of life was gone.

Napoleon, before things went sideways, 2020

Despite that, it was still hard to say goodbye. My husband and I only have one child, and our pets are like our babies. And I know 16 years is a nice life for a dog, but I must be selfish because I don’t care. I wanted him to live longer. It’s been a few weeks and I still have to stop myself from getting him a plate at meals times like I do for the other pets.

In addition to missing him like crazy, I’ve been thinking back on his life with us. He had a good life. I’m not saying that to sound superior. We take good care of our pets. They are important to us.

The absence of Napoleon has left a dachshund sized hole in my heart. I wish we could have had more time together, and I hope he knows how much he was loved.

Napoleon was the first dog we adopted. We actually adopted him after we went on a 9 day camping trip to Yellowstone. At the time in 2004, my husband and I were young and newly married. We went to Yellowstone and camped, really camped, in a tent, without showers, on the ground. While we were there we ran trails, (this was a long time ago when I still ran), and we swam in the lakes. We saw so many people camping with their dogs, and on that trip we decided we were going to get a dog so that next year when we went camping, we would have one too.

Shortly after that trip, we adopted Napoleon. I don’t know how we decided on a mini dachshund, but when I saw him, I knew he was ours. We brought him home and introduced him to our cat, Electra.

Napoleon on his first day with us and me circa 2004

The next spring, we decided to go camping again. We were excited because we would finally get to take Napoleon with us. We had been taking him running on trails throughout the fall and spring and he enjoyed that, so we figured he would enjoy camping.

The first night of our camping trip, he couldn’t sleep. He paced and paced the tent looking for a real bed. (At home he slept in bed between my husband and I). Not only would he not sleep because sleeping on the ground was not his style, he acted like being outside was too hot. He clearly wanted to know where the AC was. My husband and I thought he was hilarious. We figured he would adjust; we were planning on staying 5 days.

The second day of our trip, we went swimming in the lake, and of course we took Napoleon with us. It turns out he was an excellent swimmer. He looked like a river otter and he was pretty fast.

Napoleon, the indoor dog

My husband and I would take turns carrying him out into the lake, and the other would wait closer to the shore. Then, we would release Napoleon and he swam to other person. After about the sixth time of this, Napoleon figured out our game and instead of swimming to the waiting arms of my husband, he veered right and went for the shore. Once on shore, he took off running.

My husband jumped out of the lake and followed. I got out of the lake and waited for them to return, but after twenty minutes, they didn’t show up. I gathered our clothes, picnic things, and floats and waddled my way down the path back to the campground. On the way back, I passed a family heading to the lake. I asked them if they’d seen a tall man and a short dog running on the path. They laughed and pointed back towards camp informing me that they were all the way back at our campsite.

I found them both there. My husband was laughing. Napoleon was supposed to be our camping companion. He HATED camping. He wanted his bed and indoor air, but most of all, he didn’t want to swim.

We didn’t stay a full five days and cut that trip short to three days. After that, we didn’t take Napoleon camping anymore. He didn’t turn out to be outdoorsy, and that’s okay.

He was still the best dog ever.

Big Yawn for Napoleon, and yes, that’s his bed

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