He chased things. He was not as obedient as Meik and Xaros, so he’d chase things and sometimes wouldn’t stop when I called him. The first summer after I got him, he ran across the street and I had to chase him. Only spanking he ever got (and it wasn't much of one). From then on, I used a very long (60’) leash when we went out. He broke it a few times! I was worried that he would get hit by a car - he didn't know about them.

He had a Little Baby like Xaros had and a rope toy, “Your Toy”.  Little Baby lasted years until I ran over him with the lawn mower and Darek got a new one. The summer of 2012, when “New” Little Baby was about 5 or 6, he came up missing. We still don’t know where he went. Darek got a new one, but took him a few months to warm up to him. His rope toy he got shortly after I got him. He played with it, chewed on it, but never tore it up. He had it until he passed, almost 9 years.

Darek was very stoic. He endured the tumor, the nerve issues, the breathing issues, and never whimpered or showed any signs he had pain or any problems. He was a brave little puppy.

I got mad at him for playing too rough next to the bed shortly after I got him. I yelled pretty loud, I think it scared him, and I am truly sorry. I doubt he remembered it for long, but I did.

When I got ready to leave for work and sat on the bed to put my socks on, he’d jump up on the bed and push his paws on my back. I’d rub his belly and he’d love it. I always had to remember to put a shirt on before I sat down.

When I would work on the computer, Darek would lay in the den where he could see me. I’d get up, go to the kitchen, restroom, wherever and he’d stay there. As soon as I took my glasses off and set them on the desk, he’d get up, he knew I was through.

He always slept in the bedroom with me, usually on a little rug next to the bed. He didn’t like to sleep on the bed; whenever I would coax him up there, he wanted to play. He never tried to bite, just would sometimes get rough with teeth and claws.

I’d pet him, and when I stopped he’d raise his paw and almost slap me with it. He was telling me that I wasn’t finished.

He had a huge doggie-door that went out into his pen. It took up almost half the door. Someone asked me if I wasn't worried about that big of a door and burglars. I said "No, no burglar would want to go into a house that had a dog that needed that big of a door!"

Darek would stick his head out the doggie-door and look outside into his pen. Sometimes he'd go out, sometimes not. I guess he was just making sure all was well.

He’d bark at anyone that came up to the porch. Great alarm. I’d open the door and they could all pet him if I knew them. He liked Raymond the UPS guy; the other UPS guy would bring Darek biscuits. He didn’t really like the biscuits, though.

At night, he’d get one Beggin’ Strip in the kitchen, and four small Iams biscuits once I was in bed. He'd sit at bedside waiting, they were his “cookies.” “Do you want a cookie?” always brought him running.

He’d sometimes stick his head in when I was getting in the shower. He liked water spray. If I got the hose out washing the bike or truck or his pen, he’d try to bite the stream. He loved playing in the water stream, trying to bite it. He was always there when I got out of the shower, too.

When I came home, of course he met me at the door. If after work and it was dinner time, he got a small bowl of milk, then Eukanuba dry topped with some canned. Later, he got some pills for joints. He always ate them up. Soon as he finished his milk, he’d go in and stand by the food bowl, just waiting. After he got sick, we switched to soft food (packaged and canned). He ate 6 cans one day.

Feeding him was the first thing I did when I got home in the evening. No matter what else I had to do, once we were inside, I fed him first. When I had been to the track or diving, when I got home I would let him out in the front yard while whoever was with me got their stuff out of my truck or trailer. Then we went inside and ate.

I could open a cheese stick and no matter where he was he’d come running. He loved cheese.

When I went to Mother’s for chicken, he always loved it ‘cause he got leftovers. The only other place that I went where he got leftovers was a steak place in Bryan, Texas. The steaks were huge, and he always got about half of it. He had both in the last few weeks.

First time I went to Cozumel, I boarded him at the vet’s. He did not like being boarded, he got diarrhea and wouldn’t eat. So, I got an elaborate automatic feeding system, and left for three nights. When I came home, the food was piled in his bowl. He had eaten some, but not much. I figured he was better off home and not eating much than boarded with diarrhea and not eating at all…I’d allow three nights for a trip once or twice a year, that was all. He did fine, he’d eat a little, but waited for me to get home. I’d always give him an extra can, sometime two before I left.

At his prime, he weighed 129 pounds. No fat, all muscle. He got down to 108 at the end.

When I put food in his bowl and he started eating, I couldn’t go anywhere. He would stop eating and follow me, so I had to stay in the kitchen for a few minutes while he ate most of it. Sometimes he’d leave some and eat it in the morning, often while I was getting ready for work.

Working on stuff outside, he’d lay in the grass and watch. Sometimes he’d go investigate stuff.  If a motorcycle, pedestrian, or bicycle went by, he’d bark to let me know. Cars and trucks he ignored, except he barked at the trash truck. Maybe that’s because it stopped.

Darek did not like fireworks. 4th of July and New Years were stressful for him, he’d stand at the doorway and when he saw one going skyward, it was bark time. He’d bark when he heard gunshots, too.

When cats came in the yard, if he could see them from the doorway (he liked to lay at the door looking out the glass) he would let loose a string of barks. Sometimes they’d run off, and I would congratulate him on “Scaring those mean ‘ol kitties off.”

Darek found two little kittens. Different times, but he gently picked them up and brought them to me. I always considered letting him have a kitten, but was afraid he might accidentally squeeze it a little too hard. I took them both to the vet and they took them in.

He brought a possum in the house once. Put it by the laundry. I saw him watching the laundry basket area very intently, went in and found the possum. It was “playing possum” so I got some gloves, scooped it into a box, and let it go outside. It revived itself and ran off.

Whenever I would sit down, he would come up and want to be petted. Even when I was in the bathroom!!

Darek never flinched when we were at the vet when he got his yearly shots.

Just like Meik and Xaros, he’d stay at the door (or on the porch if I’d let him) when I mowed the lawn. Sometimes he’d bark at the mower, sometimes not.

Before bedtime and before I left for work, we’d go outside. Sometimes he’d have business to do, other times just sniffed around. If it was raining, he’d stand on the porch unless he had to go. He wasn’t a fool! When we went back in at night he’d get his treats. In the daytime, I’d tell him to be a good boy and I’d be back later.

Every night, after I had gotten in bed, I’d say “Goodnight, little puppy, I love you” no matter where I was. I like to think that he heard me.

Darek never got the accolades Meik and Xaros did; he wasn’t a police dog or working dog, but what we call a companion dog. He was so much more than a companion, though. He was my friend and my confidant, he never passed judgment, and was always there to cheer me up.

I realized tonight that I had Meik 8 years and 8 months, Xaros only 6 years and 5 months, but I have had Darek the longest. I got him Sept 23, 2003, 8 years, 11 months, and 28 days ago. Meik was 12 when he passed, Xaros 10, and Darek 10, but only one month shy of 11. Large breeds, like Shepherds, just don’t live as long as their smaller cousins.

Rommell, who I only had a year, was born on the 22nd of the month, as was Meik and Darek. Rommell and Meik were both born in May, but Meik was three years older. Darek was born in October. Xaros was born March 3, “3-3”. A friend of mine shares the same birthday.

When he was younger, he loved to jump off the porch, backdoor, bed, anything. We’d go out front and he’d leap off the porch, landing a good 8 feet from the steps. When I’d feed him, I’d open the back door and he’d leap into his pen, jump up the steps, and do it again. He never really learned how to simply walk up steps until the last few months, he always jumped.

Once I got in bed, sometimes I would have to get up and go into the kitchen for something, and he had to come too. Guess he figured he might get another cookie. He’d follow me right back into the bedroom. Being the softie I am, half the time he did get a cookie.

When I would get home, I always said “Hello Little Boy”. There were only two nights since he came to live with me that he wasn’t here when I was – once in 2004 the night before the Cozumel trip, and two weeks ago when he spent the night at the vet. He slept in his home 3,280 days out of 3,285. It is very lonely now.

I’d say, “You want to go outside?” and he’d grab Little Baby or The Toy and we’d go out.  In his later years, he’d stand on the porch sometimes, other times he would carefully go down the steps. When he was younger, it was the flying leap.

As sick as he was, laying outside in the grass, he saw a cat and perked up…he didn’t give chase, but I hope it made a good memory for him.

It is so hard to let your best friend go. I know it is best for him, he is sick and won’t get better. He has many things at issue, I had a little miracle when he went into remission 10 days ago. I love him so much I will do this for him…no more pain and suffering.

His last night was very rough. The tumor in his throat was bleeding, he would choke and there was blood everywhere. I was afraid he was going to bleed out. I did not want him to suffer that way. He didn't sleep much. When he laid his head down, his breathing got worse. In the morning, Darek drank a little milk and a little water, and licked at the chicken Mother had made for him. He wanted to eat some, but couldn’t swallow.

When Dr. Jeff arrived, he assured me it was time and we were doing the right thing.

I held him in my arms and told him he was brave, and that he was a good little puppy and I loved him. I stroked his head, hugged him. I looked in his eyes and he looked in mine, then he was gone. It was 11:52 am, September 20, 2012.

We put him in a pet casket, his head on a pillow and covered him with a nice coverlet. He is in a place now where he can finally rest and breath easy. I know he awaits me at the Rainbow Bridge with all my other buddies.

I took him to Brother Ben at Pine Hill. He remembered Xaros. I picked up his ashes the next day. Little Baby and his toy are with him.

Will I get another Godinghofer Weg? I don’t know right now. I don’t know if I can go through this part again, but the years we had together I guess makes it worth it. Dogs have shorter lifespans, it’s the way of life. It sucks.

I re-read the thoughts I wrote about Xaros. So many similarities, yet so many differences too.

I guess Darek had a simple life, his world was his house, the yard, his pen, me and my friends and people who came to visit. Once a year, we went to the vet for his checkup. Sometimes we would go for a drive, just for fun. I believe he was happy here. I miss him a lot.