Lupi joined our family on November 3, 1990, when we adopted him from the Friends of Homeless Animals shelter in Chantilly, Virginia. Lupi seemed like a very mellow dog when we met him at the shelter. When we let him meet our ferrets Ben and Jerry, who were in their cage in the car, he wagged his tail. Happy that he liked the ferrets, we decided he was going to be our dog. After signing the adoption contract and paying a fee, we drove home with a very smelly creature in the back of the car. When we placed a dog dish on the kitchen floor, the house became a home.
For the first day or two, we wondered if Lupi knew how to bark. He certainly knew that his name was Lupi, so we decided not to give him a new name. Very soon, Lupi seemed to realize that he had found a new home and decided that he had to defend us. He became very aggressive toward anyone who came near us. During a visit to Clare's parents in New Jersey, he growled at everyone except Aunt Laura.
This aggression was disturbing. We had hoped to have a mellow, friendly dog, and this sudden transformation was unsettling. Bill Beitmann, who saw Lupi at his worst, said the sudden change reminded him of a movie called "Hound Dog from Hell." Still, Lupi obviously had formed a strong attachment to us and would even let Bill take food out of his mouth. It was clear that Lupi's heart would break if we didn't keep him. We read books about dog training and tried to work with him. The turning point came at Thanksgiving when Bill's family came here to celebrate the holiday. When everyone arrived, Lupi immediately made friends with Beau, Bill's mother's dog, and accepted everyone else along with him. Of course, the food they were carrying helped too. Lupi was very happy that weekend. He really enjoyed having another dog and lots of people around. Thanksgiving was always one of his favorite holidays, not only because of the presence of his extended pack, but also because the celebration revolves around food.
Lupi came to accept and love both of our families, and many friends as well. Lupi always enjoyed traveling to New Jersey or Ohio for visits. He made himself at home at both houses. In New Jersey, he spent much of his time begging for biscuits from Clare's mother. In Ohio, food acquisition was also a major preoccupation. There were numerous opportunities: the cat food, the other dog's food, stale dog food put out for the birds, cat food cans in the garbage, and whatever people were eating. He usually sat near Bill's mother or Bill's brother Dale at meals. It didn't take Lupi long to determine who was most likely to share food with him.
Lupi and Beau got along well and took walks together. They once had a fight over some roast beef, but their relationship was usually cordial. Beau, smaller but older, was the alpha, and Lupi always accepted that. After Beau passed away, a puppy joined the family. Bernie at first was afraid of Lupi, but as he reached maturity, he began to challenge Lupi by growling and staring. There were occasional spats in which Lupi, much larger and older, maintained his position as alpha. On the other hand, Lupi's relationship with Pandora, the cat in New Jersey, was never good.
In addition to trips to Ohio and New Jersey, Lupi liked to go for hiking trips in Shenandoah National Park. He often hiked with us at Big Meadows or Mary's Rock. When we went to the lodge for dinner, we always saved a roll for him.
Lupi loved to go for rides, even short ones. He hated to be left home alone. We often took him along and let him wait in the car, which he did very patiently, when we went inside. He expected a treat if we went to a restaurant and would start to lick his chops when he spotted us at a distance. Lupi had extreme separation anxiety, so we took him many places with us. When he saw us packing the car in Ohio, he would go and sit in the car until it was time to leave to make sure we didn't go without him. Lupi was a good traveler, patiently riding in a very small space behind the passenger seat next to the ferret cage. Sometimes we would look back at him and see him smiling. He loved being with us.
Lupi will always be remembered for his love of food. His singleminded pursuit of food was his trademark. Lupi once snatched a cherry strudel from the kitchen table and ate the whole thing. On another occasion, he knocked down a cooling rack full of cookies and ate his fill. He loved cheese, biscuits (especially Meaty Bones), pancakes, ferret food, cat food, garlic rolls from Olive Garden, Italian food, Chinese food, etc. Many traditions developed to accommodate Lupi: cooking an extra pancake for him, making sure there was a treat left for him from a restaurant meal even if it meant ordering something extra, etc. Lupi's food obsession also caused a lot of inconvenience, such as having to make sure we never left chocolate candy within his reach.
Lupi was the most intelligent dog we've ever known. He adapted his begging techniques to different individuals. Once in Ohio, when Beau started to eat, Lupi barked at the door. Beau of course came running, since it was his duty to assist in defending the house. As soon as Beau reached the door, Lupi ran back to the kitchen and ate Beau's food. Clare looked out and saw no one. Lupi understood a large number of words and phrases. He knew the following tricks: sit, stay, down, roll over, jump, speak, give me your paw, give me your other paw, and wave. (He turned the wave into a whack to beg for biscuits from Clare's mother.) Lupi knew the following words: cheese, food, hungry, walk, ride, walk in the woods, oops (meaning that food dropped on the floor), Grandma, kitty, and many others. When he heard a word he recognized, he would tilt his head in a very cute manner. Lupi was even making progress with heeling. The concept of no was always a challenge due to his strong will.
There were a few things Lupi disliked, some of them intensely. These included macho men, motorcycles, bicycles, rollerbladers, joggers, staying home alone, and fruits and vegetables.
Lupi's death at the age of 9 was sudden and unexpected. On June 5, 1998, he accompanied us on a trip to Frederick to take our ferrets Buttercup and Bridgett for their rabies shots. After we came out of a restaurant, we noticed that he was panting and acting uncomfortable. We gave him a piece of chicken which he spit out on the ground. We found an emergency clinic, and he was admitted in critical condition with congestive heart failure. He died at 4:28 in the morning; an autopsy revealed a tumor in his heart that caused a pericardial hemorrhage.
We were not at all prepared to lose Lupi; nor were the many people who loved him. Many unfinished plans were disrupted. He was in an intermediate obedience class at Petsmart and died less than two weeks before he was to take the Canine Good Citizen test. We later learned that all the dogs in the class had passed the test. Since Lupi was the best student in the class, we know he would have passed too. Wayne and Sylvia Baggett, who considered Lupi their dog too, were looking forward to taking care of him when we went on vacation for our 10th anniversary. We expected Lupi to be with us for several more years.
Looking at pictures of Lupi hiking with us at Shenandoah National Park, we realize it was good for Lupi that he never got too old or weak to accompany us on hikes. He died just slightly past his prime, with all his abilities nearly intact, able to do all the things he loved up to his last day. For us, though, his sudden death was devastating. We are very sad that we never had the chance to say a proper goodbye to our wonderful friend. No creature on earth has ever been more devoted to us.
Lupi is buried at Sugarloaf Pet Gardens in western Montgomery County, Maryland. It is in a beautiful, peaceful rural area. His epitaph reads,
Last modified 30-Nov-2001.