Mateo Domenic was nothing short of extraordinary.
Although he’d lost both of his eyes to glaucoma and already been given up by one family, he hadn’t lost an ounce of his fearlessness (or charm) by the time he met his new “First Mom” Ann Terry.
I still count myself incredibly lucky to have been brought into the mix at all, given how many folks were already in complete and utter love with this smiling German Shepherd Dog.
The day I went to pick him up from a local dog boarder, they had me wait for him in a gymnasium sized playroom. I was near tears, I couldn’t believe I finally got to bring him home!
But he was amazing from the get go, because although he couldn’t “see” in the traditional sense, as soon as that door opened he came straight for me. Literally. Not a single step of hesitation. He knew exactly where I was.
It took me less than a week to teach him the commands “Step Up” and “Step Down” in order to manage the curbs on our neighborhood walks.
He immediately knew what it meant to “Wait” and “Back Up”, and if you walked him around the perimeter of a yard or house, he’d have it mapped out by the end of the first run through.
Mateo knew where his leash was, so if I was taking too long getting him out for a walk, he’d go get it and toss it in front of my feet to remind me there was business that needed taking care of.
And–even though the Big Dog HATED it when I worked out– he was a HUGE fan of Bagpipes and Pow Wow drums. Go figure.
His new sister Singer became his fiercest protector, but there was no question about who ran the show.
Once, a neighbor notorious for being a real pain in the a** showed up unannounced with their cranky dog. When I opened the door the dang thing bowled me over and got its teeth into Singer. As I panicked and tried to pull myself back up, a flash of gold pushed past me and Mateo had pulled that dog off of her before I could even finish the yell just rising in my chest.
After I ripped that neighbor a good one and pushed them back out the front door, I hugged my boy so hard. Up until then, I’d had No idea he was capable of something like that. He may have been blind? But he was one serious Bad Ass too.
Matty also loved his cat. He’d had one in his previous life, so it wasn’t a surprise when Aslan the former street cat showed up on the scene and the two became inseparable.
Many, many times upon arriving home from work, I’d the find the two of them cuddled up and Azi holding his Big Dog in a tight hug. Unfortunately I was never able to document it with a picture, because as soon as he saw the phone in my hand, Azi the cat would come running for his close up. *sigh*
Now everybody knows, I’m a real people person, but Mateo? I had nothin’ on that. He loved having lots of folks and dogs around. When it comes to his favorites, well, he was especially partial to his First Mom Ann, Aunties Maria, Emily, Anne, and his babysitter Katie.
He absolutely adored his Grandma Karla and Uncle Mikey. When Mikey left for the Peace Corp, Mateo whined about it for months every time we walked past Mikey’s old place. When I’d tell him he was “goin’ to see Grandma”, he made dang sure he was the first dog in the car.
If I talked with Steven Van Zandt on the phone, he’d wait expectantly at the door, assuming that WE were going to go see him.
For some reason, in the short time he’d gotten to know SVZ, Mateo had appointed himself Guardian Angel #2. So, whenever we were over at the house and our regularly scheduled rules regarding bedtime weren’t being observed, he’d either try to follow him and herd StevieV back to bed where he belonged, or get me up to do it.
If we were watching t.v., Matty would spend an inordinate amount of time trying to find the most ideal, absolutely closest vantage point to him that he could. Finally, he’d rest for a bit and it would appear that he’d finally located the spot, but after a few seconds he’d decide it wasn’t good enough and start looking again.
Visits to his Auntie Anne and Em’s house were punctuated by Mateo barricading himself in front of the door, so I couldn’t leave without taking him too.
As demonstrated all too well by this video, on several occasions I found myself sending them pics or videos of his cuteness:
But he wasn’t just cute. My dog was brilliant, patient, and strong as all get out.
He was 100% Heart.
There is so much more to his story and even though this doesn’t even remotely do him justice, it doesn’t change the fact that My Big Dog carried a tremendous and stubborn love for me until the end.
He didn’t want to leave me. I know I sure wasn’t ready for him to go.
You Are Missed My Beautiful Boy.