Brindleboy123's Blog

A tribute to our mate marmite, Chunky Boy, RIP.

Posted on: March 13, 2011

December 2002 – March 2011

Wednesday, 2nd March 2011 we had to say goodbye to our dear Shar-pei, Chunky.  At just 8 years old, Chunky had become a victim of a dreaded tick disease which had slowly invaded his body.  He fought a battle for much longer than we had known and our beautiful special little man could fight no more.  Tony and I had to make one of the most difficult decisions of our lives.  We so much wanted him to stay with us but it would have been just cruel to put him through any more.  We had always promised never to let any of our dogs suffer and Chunky would not be an exception.  Even though both our hearts are broken, we know we had to do this final thing for him and take away his pain. 

When you have to say goodbye to someone, whether it is a family member or a pet (which in my mind are one of the same), you often try to think of what you can do to keep the memory of that person or pet alive.  Do you buy a chair, place it somewhere that they loved to go? Perhaps plant a tree?  What can you do for an 8 year old shar-pei who was totally misunderstood by some, but loved by so very many. Tony has taken the decision to have a tattoo on his back with all three of our dogs together, Chunky being in the middle keeping an eye on the two little ones.  For me, I will write this blog.  I would like to think that perhaps one day, somewhere, someone will type “Chunky” into their laptop and up would come this story of our wonderful friend……..

The Beginning……….
Tony and I moved to Spain in December 2002 and settled into our little flat.  Our first real home together and the first few weeks of our marriage.  Everything was wonderful and we made the place look beautiful but there was something else that I hoped against all hope that Tony would also want….a dog!

We used to shop often at Carrefour and in those days there was a pet section to the side which had young puppies in horrible glass cages.  I hated to see them in there but at the same time was drawn to them every time we went in to shop.  We would go in and ignore the signs and touch the side and try to encourage the dogs to come and see us.  It was always so tempting – I just wanted to take them all home but we really weren’t sure whether the community that we lived in would even allow pets.

One particular day, off we went to Carrefour as usual and as was the norm, Tony said “I guess you will be going to the pets bit first!”, he didn’t need to wait for an answer because I was already on my way.  In I went, straight to the back and there he was…just looking at me, a baby lion!  He looked absolutely gorgeous, tan colour, long hair and lots of wrinkles!  A Shar-pei.  I had seen the breed on many of the adverts on TV for beauty creams but knew absolutely nothing about them.  Tony came to look too and we both thought this puppy was the one.  We asked if we could hold him and of course the assistant agreed.  Tony could see by the look on my face that I wanted him there and then but I was very sensible  (for once) and told the assistant “we would think about it”.  That evening we did nothing but talk about this pup that had stolen our hearts.

The next day I went upstairs to see a neighbour and told her about our meeting with the pup.  Ann said she would happily look after it if we had to go away, so why not get it?  Well, you could not see my feet for dust…I was down the stairs quicker than you could say, “get the car keys”.  Who cared what the other people in the block would say….we were going to rescue that beautiful baby boy from the glass prison and bring him home.  Tony didn’t need much persuading and we were soon on our way to Carrefour.  Tony could see the anticipation in my face and also the fear that I would get there and he would be gone so he dropped me outside the door and went to park up.  I went straight into the pet section and could see a crowd around my dog!  I decided my best move was to find the assistant first who just happened to be by the counter nearest to me.  “I would like to buy the Shar-pei please” I said in my very best Spanish!  I then followed her to where the others were stood and waited whilst she opened the door to freedom for my boy.  She took him out, kissed him on the top of his head and handed him to me!  He had that smell of puppies that you would only recognise if you have been fortunate enough in life to have had a young pup.  Another English couple were there and the lady turned to me and asked if I was having the pup and I beamed and told her I was.  I then realised how lucky I had been because she told me that they were just about to go and buy him!  Close shave that one!

Chunky was 960 euros and it was quite strange that we actually had to take him through the checkout! As far as I could see there was no barcode attached to him, but who knows!  The assistant told me he was expensive because he was very rare…don’t get many long haired shar-pei’s she said.  A long time after I discovered that she was right, the long haired variety are not that popular (known as Bearcoat’s) purely because they are often considered as a throw-back and certainly the kennel club in the UK would not recognise them because their hair was “too long for the breed”.  Sadly, it is also well known that some breeders would kill them rather than let the bearcoat be allowed to go on and breed.  The bearcoats are however very popular in the USA for some reason.

That night we took our little pup who we were told was just 3 months old to the vets in Guadamar who had some sort of deal with Carrefour and provided a free check.  All was well apart from a possible infection in his ears which needed treating.

The next few weeks Chunky grew rapidly and it wasn’t too much of a surprise when we received his documents through the post to discover that he wasn’t in fact just 3 months old when we bought him but five. He had, according to the documents, been brought over to Spain from Hungary. There was a lot of talk in the press at the time of how these animals were suffering at the hands of traders prepared to risk the lives of the puppies bringing them across continents in an attempt to secure hefty amounts of money. It appeared that our Chunky boy had been one of them. Five months or three months, our little lad was getting bigger by the day!

We took Chunky for all his immunisations and in the meantime he was very well behaved in the flat, always using the newspaper to “do his business”. I remember one day waking up and discovered that Tony was already up playing with him and had taught him how to retrieve a ball!

After the first time he was allowed out to walk in the real world there was no looking back. He was completely clean from that day on. We walked him into the town and it seemed like we were stopped ever 100 yards or so by people wanting to know what breed he was, how old etc etc! Chunky had his photograph taken with quite a few holidaymakers in those days. He loved it when he was younger if we took him into the town, we used to walk along the pier (had no idea at the time that dogs were banned!).

It wasn’t too long before we noticed that he wasn’t up to walking so far and when we took him in to the town he started to just sit down and refuse to walk any further. Tony had to carry him home on his shoulder. Back to the vets we went and were told that his body was basically growing faster than his legs could carry him! He was put on to a light diet and he wasn’t too happy about that! Over time Chunky lived up to his name and he again found his feet and enjoyed his walks.

Living in a complex everyone got to know our boy. When he was very young he was happy to stand and be petted but as the years went by Chunky became far more interested only in Tony and myself. He would tolerate anyone else but just didn’t want to be touched. He was a real protector to both of us when he was out on the lead. No-one would come near us – when he was walking with Tony if anyone gave Tony eye contact he would try to pull towards them! I remember one day we were out and a car stopped with Moroccans inside. I was on my own with Chunky and one of the men put his arm out towards me; lets just say that he soon moved it!! I felt completely safe walking with him, he wasn’t going to let anyone hurt me.
The funny thing was though, even though he was so protective once he was on the lead, inside the house he would let anyone do what ever they wanted to him. You could tickle him, cuddle or even put your fingers in his mouth….he was a real baby!

After we had Chunky for about 3 or 4 months we took him to the vets as we were concerned that his eyes were weeping. Shar-pei’s obviously have a lot of wrinkles when they are young (they tend to grow into their skins as they get older) and these wrinkles were causing him some discomfort in the eye area. He needed an operation to reduce the wrinkles – basically, a face lift! After surgery he was fitted with a white halo to go around him so that he didn’t touch his eyes…poor little soul, our flat is only tiny and every time he went up and down the passage to play his halo banged on the walls! We always knew where he was then and if we couldn’t hear him, we just needed to follow the tracks on the wall!

He was such a good little lad, no trouble whatsoever to the vet. He had 16 stitches and didn’t even need a mozzle or anything when the stitches were removed by the vet! He just sat there and let the vet take them out one by one.

All was well for the next few months until one evening as I stoked him I felt a lump on the back of his neck. It seemed quite large and I immediately thought the worse. Once again we returned to the vets in Guadamar who decided they would take a biopsy. We had to leave our boy there and returned late in the evening to collect him. When we got there the vet said that they had actually removed the whole lump and showed it to us, it was the size of a golf ball. It now had to go off for testing. We could hear Chunky crying for us but the vet said that he had lost quite a lot of blood and they needed to keep him in overnight. Poor Chunky. When we collected him the next day he did look in a state. He had to have a drain from his side and we were given some netting to put over the wound. The wound had to be covered and I remember we ended up buying packets of ladies sanitary towels to put on them….they seemed to be the most absorbent thing that would not stick to him! Each day the wound had to be cleaned around the drain. Our little soldier was as good as gold and allowed Tony to do this without any problem. Some days the wound seemed to have grown over and Tony had to almost cut the area to clean it….not a murmur from him, just a look of thanks really.
One morning when I went in to see how he was, I couldn’t find the drain! We looked everywhere and came to the conclusion that Chunky boy had eaten it! Back to the vets who decided that they would need to put in a further drain, so yet another operation. The next couple of weeks we were back to the drain cleaning until finally the area was clear and his netting and sanitary towels could finally be removed!

The vet telephoned us one night to say that he had the results of the biopsy. The language barrier at that time caused us some problems, particularly over the phone, and I was sure that he told me that Chunky had cancer. I didn’t hear anything else. We were both absolutely devastated. We gave Chunks cuddles and Malteesers! It wasn’t until we went personally to the vets a few days later that we realised (thank god) that the lump was in fact benign and Chunky was going to be absolutely fine! No more Malteesers for Chunky!

Just after Christmas 2004 Tony and I decided to go for a holiday in Florida and were needing to leave Chunky for the first time. We had been recommended someone that lived in La Romana, Trish and Tim and we visited them with Chunks to ask if they would be able to look after him for us. Chunky spent his first of many visits to Trish and Tim and they fell for him 100%. They used to call him Major Chunky! There were no kennels as such, Chunky had the run of their home and used to wake Trish up early in the morning to let her know that he needed to go out! Trish and Tim used to joke that Chunky enjoyed sitting in the study and had become quite good at reading now!

On our return from holiday we both thought that Chunky looked so miserable at home. We were convinced that he was missing the friends he had met at Trish’s home…the other dogs. So, despite only having a relatively small home, we decided to go and find Chunky a little friend.

Our first visit was to SATS. We came across a lovely little black dog and we took him for a little walk. He was adorable, even did tricks like rolling over etc I think so we could be persuaded to take him home! We were all set up to have this little man when the lady suggested that we came back later in the day with Chunky to see how they got on. Back we went and we took the two of them out for a walk together. Well, the little black dog almost ran back into SATS when he looked at Chunky! The thing was, to us Chunky just looked like a gentle little man but it appeared that to others he looked quite mean!!! Black dog was taken back in and I went in and chose another, and another, and another! Each time I brought them out they almost cowered and begged not to be taken home with us!! I almost expected to go into SATS and see the dogs holding on to the walls refusing to come out! We gave up and went home with Chunky no mates…..

Not one to give in, I telephoned someone in the local paper who was looking after some small dogs and agreed to meet her with a small little dog that she had. Just before we went she telephoned to say that someone she knew was fostering a little dog that needed to be re-homed. Bobby. We arranged to meet the lady in town and she brought Bobby to us. It was love at first sight. Bobby happily got in to our little car and off we went to meet big brother! Bobby was fearless – a street dog. Chunky chased him around the room and tried to have his wicked way with poor Bobby for a little while but eventually realised that it was a useless game and in time gave up. Bobby and Chunky were like brothers for the next 7 years and didn’t spend a night apart.

Chunky became increasingly devoted to Tony. In the pecking order I was obviously far down the list but it was also obvious that he loved us both. He was most definately a creature of habit. We didn’t need a clock with Chunky. He knew the time to get up, the time to walk and the time to eat but never did really catch on to British Summer Time! As soon as you moved in the morning he was there. Some mornings I would lay in bed and dare not to open my eyes….he seemed to be able to sense when your eyes were open and he would start huffing for you to get up! His greeting for Tony, whether it was first thing in the morning or after we had returned from somewhere, was to hold his mouth around Tony’s hand and he would, oh so gently, rub his teeth on his hand. Tony had marks on his hands where Chunks did this all the time.

Due to ill health in the family, I had to go back and forwards to the UK to care for my parents. This meant that I was often away for a week at a time or so. On my return Chunky would ignore me! He wouldn’t even look at me, choosing to stand by Tony as if to say..”where does she think she’s been”! It was really so funny. In the end the only way I could get him to come near me was to arrive with a biscuit in my hand and then he would very reluctantly come over but was still miserable with me for a day or so!
He loved his food but particularly bread. He was a bread fiend. There wasn’t a time went by when if I bought a French stick he would always be there…the ends were his! I would cut them off and he would be in heaven!

We have always had “two” Chunky’s….the first was the long haired version where he was often mistaken for a Chow chow and then the short back and sides version! Chunks really did not like having his hair cut but as he would molt so much we used to take him to Anna at Tidy Paws to turn him into a “real” shar-pei from time to time. Anna was great with him and he very reluctantly would go into the salon but always came out like a different dog! When he had his hair cut he seemed to become like a young dog again. For the short time before his coat grew again, he looked like a shar-pei and you could see his wrinkles that were always well hidden under his very thick coat.

Chunky hated water. As far as he was concerned, water was for drinking and certainly not for washing or walking in! I have known him do a credible long-jump over puddles rather than walk in them! So Anna was never able to give him a wash, we used to laugh that he was like a self cleaning oven….which in a way he was because he really did keep himself quite clean, just like a cat would. He also hated having his ears touched. Shar-pei’s do tend to have quite sensitive ears and are prone to infections and Chunky boy did have a few of them. He did let me clean them but it was always with reluctance.

In 2010 my aunt came to live in Spain. It was very brave off her as she was already 86 and not in the best of health. She loved it here and enjoyed each day in the sunshine. Once when we were out she saw a pomaranian dog and said how much she would love one! Tony used to say whatever Miss Daisey wanted Miss Daisey shall have! That very same week I saw an advert for some pomaranian puppies that were being sold. I thought it must be fate and although it was a ridiculous idea, we went out and bought Lola (aka Evil Edna!)

Life became quite difficult looking after Miss Daisey (my aunt), our two dogs and now also a strong minded puppy that lived a few doors away. Our boys were terrified of Lola and each time I brought her into our flat, both Chunky and Bobby used to run away from her, more often than not landing on the sofa! It was so funny to see a great dog like Chunky trying to hide from a tiny puppy like Lola. Lola thought it was a great game and so chased them all the more!

Sadly, my aunt passed away just before Christmas 2010 and we suddenly had a new member in the family! Chunky was not impressed but in time the boys accepted that Lola wasn’t going to go anywhere and that it looked like she was here to stay. In time she became a member of the gang and joined in the chorus whenever someone went past…..if one barked they would all bark. If one ran to the door, they would all run; Chunky would often get it wrong though and when the little ones ran to the door because they heard something, Chunky would end up running in the opposite direction not really sure why he was even running!

Despite his size, Chunk was extremely gentle with the other dogs inside the flat. Both Bobby and Lola would torment him and would often go over to try to take his food. Instead of turning around and giving the little ones what for, he used to just stand back and let them eat his dinner and at the same time look at us as if to say “can you get them off PLEASE”! He was such a softie. After dinner the little ones would play with their toys, Chunky would play tug of war a bit but wasn’t really that interested. If Bobby and Lola became a bit boisterous, Chunky would, after a while, run after them and open his mouth wide open and put it down, usually on Bobby’s neck. He never, ever closed his mouth or hurt either of the dogs. It was as if he was just warning them to behave. They never really took any notice of him anyway!

Chunky was never very good at travelling and quite often would end up with a dodgy tummy when he was in the car. I guess we should perhaps have taken him out more often and he may have got used to it, as it was, our trips in the car were normally either to the vets, hair cut or when we were going to leave him so it is no wonder he wasn’t too keen on going out in the car!

We heard of a family that looked after dogs in their own home in Quesada (Fiona and Ian) and went to meet them with the gang. Chunky was very happy there. Usually when we left him with someone he would be quite stroppy when we returned but I really believe that he enjoyed himself with Fiona and Ian because he was much better. I remember the first time that we went to drop them off, Ian had bought Chunky some bread because we had told him how much Chunky like it! It was not unusual for Chunky demanding to be hand fed the first night we were not there and I think he probably played this trick with them.

Before we had Chunky castrated, it would not be unusual for him to do a very good impression of a kangaroo when he was on a lead and another dog approached. It certainly calmed him down a lot. The funny thing was though, whenever we took him somewhere, like Fiona’s or at Trish’s house where there were plenty of other dogs, he would not bother with any of them. He enjoyed his own company and really never looked for any trouble.
In December last year, Chunky was 8 years old. Over the last few months we had noticed that he was slowing down a little bit. He seemed to be getting a little stiff in his back legs which we had put down to old age. He certainly didn’t seem to be struggling and still was very keen to go out for his walks although perhaps not so far as in previous years. We did notice though recently he was more tired than usual and when, for the second night, he wasn’t interested that much and needed encouragement to each his dinner, we decided to take him to the vets on the Monday (21st February). The vet at Petsworld, Habanaras, said that she would give him a blood test and also gave him a jab and some antibiotics to come home with plus pain killers.

The goodbye ……
The vet telephoned us and advised that Chunky had tested positive for a disease transmitted by a tick….Ehrlichiosis. It is a truly horrible disease and is caused by a tick which may have attached itself to Chunky even up to say 5 years previous. The disease has 3 stages and Chunky had unfortunately already reached the chronic stage. All the things that we had started to notice in him were actually symptoms of the disease and not just “old age” as we had thought.

We thought we had always given our dogs all protection that they needed. Even when money was a little tight, we would always have ensured that they did not go without any injections etc. I did however believe that the drops such as Expot, Frontline or whatever is the chosen brand, was only needed March – November. What I didn’t consider though was the fact that a tick could appear at any time of the year and it wasn’t just the mosies that we needed to be prepared for. I know from talking to other pet owners, we aren’t the only ones that have worked on this basis, so if nothing else, PLEASE if you are reading this and have a dog, remember this. The vet assures me that it is just as likely that Chunky could have had a tick when he had the drops because they are never 100%. I have been reassured by everyone that I “did everything you could” but I know there will always be a nagging feeling that I let him down for which I will be eternally sorry.

The night we went to the vets he really seemed to pick up and even wanted to play with his toys again. The following day was also quite a good day for him. Chunky always hated taking pills and we couldn’t give them to him with food as he was a clever so and so and very suspicious, checking out his food very carefully. Tony always gave him his tablets by crushing them and giving them in a syringe. After 3 days of antibiotics I was concerned that he was not improving and in fact he had started to revert to the tiredness again. Over the weekend, Chunky really started to look poorly. The colour inside his mouth had started to change and by Monday morning he was unable to walk outside to go to the toilet.

It was absolutely heartbreaking and still is. We called a friend, Gordon, and he agreed to go with the vets with Tony. I felt in my heart my boy wouldn’t be coming home and tried to take him out before they left. Poor little man couldn’t do it but did manage to stand when he saw Gordon and the little spurt of energy got him out to the car. Tony put him into the car and I think the other people that had also come out knew in their hearts, like me, that our boy would not be coming home again. Chunky sat down and I kissed him and told him how much I loved him. Then they were gone…..

Tony telephoned from the vets and part of me didn’t even want to answer the phone. He told me that Chunky was very poorly but that the vet had said he needed a blood transfusion. There was hope! For the rest of that day and the next we clung to the possibility that the new blood would help our boy. We received a call on the Tuesday from the vet to say that if we went to the surgery she would explain the situation. We arrived at the vets with trepidation and met a different vet but he was fully aware of Chunky’s situation and explained that the blood was not expected to arrive until 6 pm that evening and that he was stable. He asked if we wanted to see Chunky but I felt that it would be too upsetting, especially for Chunky as he would be expecting us to take him home.

Wednesday, 2nd March came and Tony went for his usual walk along the pier first thing. I decided to walk the other two dogs into town early and took my ipod with me to listen to as I walked. We walked all the way into the centre of the town and were about 10 minutes from home when the piece of music that I had at both Mum and Miss Daisey’s funeral came on…Goodbye by Lionel Ritchie.

At the very same moment, a stray, unbelievably a shar-pei the very same colour, length of hair as our boy came towards me. I couldn’t move from the shock. I have lived in Spain for coming up 10 years and can honestly say that although I have sadly seen many stray dogs, I have never, ever seen a stray shar-pei. I could not stop the tears from falling.

When Tony came through the door he looked at me and said “you won’t believe what I saw” but before he could finish, I knew he had seen the same dog. It was just so strange. We decided that it was possibly one of two things, it was Chunky coming to say goodbye or it was Chunky saying “don’t you give up on me”. I prayed that it would be the latter.

I didn’t hear the phone ring but Tony came in and told me that the vets had phoned and it was bad news. The new blood that had been transfused the night before had in fact increased Chunky’s red cell count but not long after the count had dropped again. The parasites were now attacking the new blood. The vet told us that they could give him a further transfusion if they ordered more blood that would take a couple of days to arrive from Madrid but that the chance of it working and Chunky boy surviving had now decreased to just 20%. We knew that if we did this option it would mean more suffering for Chunky and that would be unthinkable. The vet was in agreement that it was really time to say goodbye.

I had said my goodbye’s and didn’t go with Tony on the worse journey ever. He said that when he got there he spoke with the vet and it was agreed that the kindest thing (but at the same time the hardest thing for us) was to let Chunky go to sleep. The vet went to get Chunky Boy and Tony tells me that the poor boy had hardly any energy to stand as they brought him into the other room. Tony sat on the floor with Chunky as the vets gave him something for the pain and to allow him to sleep. Tony cuddled our boy and squeezed his nose as he always did. Although Chunky was really very, very weak he did manage to give Tony a kiss. Chunky passed away peacefully in the arms of the man he adored all his life and we lost one of the most loyal, faithful and wonderful companions anyone could ever have had. Tony was very upset as was the vet who was also crying. Our boy had touched her heart too.

Coming home without Chunky was very difficult and I was fortunate that I had Jane and Gordon to lean on whilst Tony was at the vets. I will always be grateful for the kindness they showed me, particularly as they have gone through a similar experience when they lost their own dog, Bella.

Bobby and Lola are the only remaining musketeers now. Lola is her normal crazy self although we have caught her looking around, we think for her big brother. Bobby has been very different this last week and is obviously missing Chunky a lot. Bobs has always slept with us but this last week has chosen to sleep instead on Chunky’s bed. A couple of times when we have been talking about Chunky, his little tail has started to wag thinking that perhaps he was here. We have had to try to keep them both entertained a little bit more than usual. Guess it will take time for them too.

The vets called yesterday to say that they now had Chunky’s ashes. We collected them and they had been very kind and were returned in a beautiful glass case with a red velvet bag inside and our boy’s name on the glass. Some people I know will think it crazy but we will keep them and they will eventually go with us when it is our turn to say goodnight for the last time.

At the beginning of this blog I wrote about lasting memories and today Tony had a tattoo on his back with all three of our dogs. Chunky boy in the centre keeping an eye on the other two. Crazy thing to do? Possible but who cares…we may not have our Chunky boy with us to smooth or cuddle but I know he will always be with us and others will never forget him when they look at Tony!

I have been blessed in my life. I have two wonderful daughters, a husband who is caring and everything a woman could want, a beautiful home and friends and now two gorgeous dogs but things will never be quite the same without Chunky Boy. Of course life will go on, we will enjoy life, that is what it is given to us for but there will always be times I know when our thoughts will return to that little lion that shared our lives and hearts for so very long.

R.I.P. Chunky boy and thank you for the happy times…………..

Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:39 pm View user's profile Send private message


5 Responses to "A tribute to our mate marmite, Chunky Boy, RIP."

A beautifully written story that will be a constant memory of Chunky.

Thank you Jacqui, that means a lot. Chunky was a big part of our lives and he is missed terribly. Thank you so much for taking the time to read the blog.

Hi Michele
Jacqui is my friend. She will have seen my blog post on EOS about Chunky.

Thank you Janice. The more people that see the blog the better…it means there is always the chance that another dog can be saved from this dreadful disease. Thank you so very much.

I saw your tribute to Chunky on Shar Pei UK web site when I was re reading my tribute to my lovely Khiza who is also on that rememberance page.
What a beautiful story about a special boy.
I also have Khiza Tattood on my arm in his memory. There was something indescribably special about him.
I have my 3rd Shar pei now, they are such special little things that make life so much better. All my Shar Peis are either through rescue or rehome situations. Theres nothing better than finding a lost soul to love.
RIP Chunky, I hope you find a gorgeous boy called Khiza to run with.xx

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