Age:
14 years

Am. Ch. Pagerr Keeper of the Castle is showing off his sound, ground-covering stride in that big show ring in Heaven.
 
Joe and I adopted Keeper's dam, Summer Snow, on Aug 12, 2003. Two weeks later, on Aug 26, we adopted Keeper too. He was nearly 5, a gentle, quiet boy with perfect manners and an elegant aloofness. When I saw him for the first time, his magnificent feathers took my breath away.

Over time, Keeper transitioned from a show dog personality to a pet. His aloofness vanished. He grinned, became proficient at de-squeaking toys,
and set the bar for countertop thievery. When I opened the refrigerator, he would goose me hard with his nose as if to say "Hey, as long as you're in there, give me a chicken gizzard!". He loved to lie down on our neighbors' meticulously kept lawns (he disdained ours, not good enough). Walkers, and
even some drivers, would stop and admire him.
 
Keeper was our Comeback Kid. He survived a swarm of fire ants, an attack by Zorka, and a brown recluse spider bite. We caught his high blood pressure early on, and gave him tieback surgery for laryngeal paralysis at age 11 1/2. When he had an acute gall bladder inflammation at age 12 1/2, the ER gave us two options: exploratory surgery or euthanasia. I asked if they could treat it as a possible bacterial infection. Two days later Keeper came home, climbed back onto his sofa in my office, and settled down with a deep sigh.
 
He controlled that corner of the house. Zorka had the guest room corner, Vladimir my husband's office corner, and Mischa the master bedroom corner. It was a perfectly symmetrical arrangement. Everyone was content.

"Daddy Keeper" became the patriarch of our pack. He ignored puppy antics as beneath his massive dignity. He was happy to lie on my office sofa or on a quilt by the front door, one ear up like a semaphore.
 
We had lost Summer Snow to acute kidney failure in January 2007, so it was not a surprise when our vet said that Keeper had kidney insufficiency
in January 2012. At first we gave him sub-q fluids and put him on a special diet, but he was not happy about it. He was over 13 now, so we stopped the fluids and let him eat whatever he wanted. Especially chicken gizzards! He thrived for 8 months with a healthy appetite, going for walks almost every day. We forgot about his kidney disease.In late September all that changed. For 10 days we tried everything for him, but he did not bounce back as he had always done. On September 28, I slept on the floor with him all night, holding his paw. The next morning, we took him on his final car ride.

Shielding his eyes so he didn't see what the vet was doing, I held him close, whispered words of love to him, and felt his last breath on my fingers.
He left this earth as gracefully as he had lived on it.

Keeper would have been 14 years old on October 16. We will buy a big steak forthe rest of our pack, and celebrate his birthday without him. He would have wanted that.
 
Run free, Keeper of my heart.

If anyone has memories or photos of Keeper, please share them with me.

Donna Joyce