Denzel, the family’s first dog, died at the age of 10

Denzel the rescue dog, who loved the slowest walk, the most squeaky part of his toys, every single meal and anytime someone forgot to close the trash, died July 31 of prostate cancer.

He was 10 years old, and he was the first dog of my family.

Kristen Hare’s children, Max and Lila, are with Denzel on the day they adopted him in 2017. The family worked with Florida Poodle Rescue. [ Kristen Hare ]

We weren’t dogs.

Growing up, I had parrots, fish and hamsters I remember their names but forgot their lives. My husband’s family raised a parrot and a turkey which is another story. We both loved the idea of ​​the family dog ​​- walk, snuggle, tail wag hello. And we wanted our children, at the age of ten and six, to take responsibility for taking care of something other than themselves.

This will be the dog for you My cousin warned.

Of course, this is exactly what happened.

In 2017, we got started with Florida Poodle Rescue and envisioned a small dog like our nephew Charlie’s dog—someone who could go home with us to Missouri in a cute shoulder bag and happily join outings at restaurants and parks.

Instead, we adopted a mix of a five-year-old, 20-pound silver poodle who came with an adorable name and patriotism to teach us.

When her family first got their first dog, it was often the subject of family artwork.
When her family first got their first dog, it was often the subject of family artwork. [ KRISTEN HARE | Tampa Bay Times ]

Denzel joined our family, and somehow all the things we didn’t know grew up.

For example, all we learned about his first five years is: Denzel lived with a Chihuahua.

He had training. we were not. Slowly, we deciphered each other – he raises his hand, sits down; Open door, people first. Every tree has to be smelled. I learned not to leave unless he watches me walk out the door. To save us, the disappearances were scary and led to pools.

Together (and with many calls and emails to the good volunteers in the rescue), we found out.

Along the way, Denzel has earned many nicknames: Shadow for how close he is to me, Mr. Puddles for the way he showed concern, and Buddy, the names we’ve used the most. Denzel’s soft, curly gray fur has sucked up the tears shed during puberty and pestilence, and provided a resting place for my children’s rare broken bones.

He seemed happiest at home, but he joined us on adventures to rent beaches and spent several sleepovers with two families whose kids rained him on pets when ours couldn’t.

He didn’t think much about thunderstorms and fireworks and had a deep distrust of helium balloons.

He loved other dogs, snoozing in the sunlight while the kids splashed in the pool, and he always wagged his tail when visitors asked “You can smell my dog, right?” Our family suspected he could, but if he couldn’t, he was too polite to suggest otherwise.

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The first fall Denzel joined the family, he urinated on his girl's pumpkin.  didn't mind.
The first fall Denzel joined the family, he urinated on his girl’s pumpkin. didn’t mind. [ Kristen Hare ]

We prepared for a dog barking to fill the house.

But Denzel was the sweet, silent type.

Instead, he taught us all the ways dogs communicate. He announced himself with clicks on the tiled floors, scratching the bedroom and office doors when it was time to move, jamming on all the trips he had to take up and down the stairs to keep an eye on me, and hoping to shave anytime my husband was in the kitchen. He would sigh at the end of each day as he curled up with us on the sofa. And at night, he often snored softly from his spot at the end of our bed.

Denzel wasn't a big fan of the beach, but he did enjoy a good view.
Denzel wasn’t a big fan of the beach, but he did enjoy a good view. [ Kristen Hare ]

On Sunday, July 31, after a rapid deterioration in his health due to cancer, Denzel ate a few bites of steak, ride in the car in my son’s arms with the windows closed and several hours on the sofa with his family. Next, a soft Lap of Love vet kneeled on the carpet and helped Denzel cross the Rainbow Bridge.

We are still adjusting to calm.

For now, we agree we’ll never find another dog as good as ours, but Denzel’s love taught us we should at least try. Early next year we plan to become a foster family to help dogs like him get the people they deserve.

Instead of condolences, hug a dog, donate to save others, and like Denzel, stay close to the people you love.

Denzel was a very good boy.
Denzel was a very good boy. [ Kristen Hare ]

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Our weekly newsletter, How They Lived, is a place to remember friends, neighbors, and members of the Tampa Bay community we’ve lost. It’s free. Just click on the link to register. Do you know someone we should highlight? Please email Kristen at [email protected]

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