The smallest of three survivors from a large litter that went down to neonatal canine herpes, his puppy name was ``tank'' from the cheerful way he would plow through his larger siblings or anything else to get to where he wanted to be. It was a tough time, losing Ptolemy at the grand age of 15-and-a-half, but that is why the breeder decided that one of the surviving puppies should come to join 8-year-old Cicero and me. With the mischievous twinkle in his eye, he was the puppy I chose, and he never lost that mischievous outlook, constantly having new ideas of fun things to do. Joshua was a trial to poor Cicero, who was unendingly gentle, but he came into my life at a time when I much needed to laugh, have fun, and become more physically active. Joshua provided all three in abundance. Walks with Ptolemy and Cicero had become very slow and sedate: I remember my repeated encouragements of "Chicago airport, Chicago airport", in the tones of the voice that airport's then new moving walkway-- "Keep walking, Keep walking".
Mentally active and intensely curious, Joshua never wanted to miss anything going on, and always wanting to be outside both at home and at the cabin, whatever the weather. At Shugart Flats, Joshua-sized channels in the deep soft snow became his signature from his first winter, and digging a moat to prevent escapes over the fence as snow solidified became a heavy routine winter task. Joshua's curiosity and determination to explore caused several alarms, from the very first bout with giardia, then still as a young puppy when he became balloon-faced from an allergic reaction to stings from too close an investigation of a wasps nest, through several bouts of serious gastroenteritis from eating mushrooms or other unsuitable things. Whether from the herpes, a mushroom poisoning, or some other cause, he had kidney trouble from a year old, but that never slowed him down.
Joshua's antics provided laughter in abundance -- laughter in which he participated fully, but his opportunistic escapes caused a number of scares. He managed escapes from the Seattle yard, from the Shugart flats cabin, from the Magnuson off-leash area, and once even from his indoor Obedience class. He always came back quite soon, the fun of reporting his adventures as great as the excitement of the adventure itself, but his certainty that nothing bad could happen to him caused a number of frantic worries on his behalf. He only once took Benedict with him: just after we moved to the new house, an arriving house-painter opened the side gate. An exciting new area, down to the rubbish bins behind houses on the very main road! Fortunately Benedict's panicked return when we chased after them ("I found you! I found you!") caused Joshua to come back to see what the excitement was about.
Joshua followed Cicero into Agility, and could have become an excellent agility dog, but for his determination to write his own rules and an insatiable appetite for eating the sawdust in the arena and stealing the plastic treat plates. In his first trial, he distinguished himself with a perfect jump and teeter, followed by a wild ditz run. He soon discovered that at trials the treats were outside the ring, and from then on it was impossible to keep him in the ring. At weekly practice, he was either the delinquent or the star of his group, or occasionally both, as on the occasion he won first prize at an Agility Club Games Night. After totally blowing off his two runs, we finished a little early. So, he was allowed an extra try and almost doubled the previous best score in his group -- 18 obstacles in 60 seconds, including two sets of off-side weaves (7 points each) and 3 teeters (5 points each), and 46 points in all. I chose a Buster Cube for him -- as the least destructible toy. His "Cubie" was his pride and joy for over 9 years, the one toy he insisted was his alone. Every evening after dinner in Seattle until we moved in 2009, he would let off excess energy getting out the final bits of kibble. He would toss the cube as well as roll it, and the small kitchen of the new house was not so well suited to this game. So the cube moved to the cabin, and became an absolute demand after dinner any evening we were there. Benedict would trail behind hopeful that a piece might come his way, but he knew this was Joshua's activity, and never intervened.
From aged under 2 to over 3, Joshua was an only dog, but he welcomed the new puppy Benedict with open heart, and they quickly became inseparable playmates and companions. For 8 happy years they played together, dug huge holes together, hiked together, and slept together. The only thing they hated was not to be together. Only for a brief phase, around when Joshua was 5 and Benedict 2, did play become a bit competitive, each one determined to be the bigger stronger dog. Benedict was the taller and faster, but their weights were similar for much longer, and Joshua was the far more physically coordinated. Joshua loved all people and dogs and had numerous canine playmates at the park. Benedict was a little jealous: on the one hand he was protective of Joshua, and on the other he wanted to join in. But playing with dogs other than Joshua was something he never learned to do. Joshua's special friend as a pup was Emma, a golden slightly older than himself. Later we did not meet so often, but he always recognized her and and gave her a special greeting. They met the last time not long before he died, and it was two old friends gently meeting.
I blamed his boring strict KD diet, but Joshua would eat anything and everything; paper, cardboard, wood, sheets, towels, grass clippings and even plastic if not prevented. The sound of ripping sheets and paper was music to his ears. He was a terror to his dog beds, and for years I struggled to prevent their too rapid destruction. The big game both in Seattle and at the cabin was to take them out each morning for a bit more shredding. Eventually, we reached a "compromise" -- I gave up providing him with new bedding and he slept on a pile of partially shredded sheets on top of the spare bed, and was allowed to take them into the yard do a little bit of shredding after breakfast each day. In return, he (mostly) accepted that Benedict's bedding was off limits, although they could never have bedding at the kennels or when left alone during the day.
Like Jason, Joshua always wanted to know what was happening. Whereas to Jason packing was the signal for kennels, for Joshua, cleaning the house provoked a mild anxiety. Although the easiest of all about so many things, he was very independent. Again like Jason his response was always "No, I'll do it myself", if one tried to help him into the car. Of all of my Goldens, he was the only one whose toe nails I was unable to clip; his adamant determination and struggles were just too much for me. Annoyingly, both the vet and the kennels claimed he was easy with them doing it! Like Jason also, he had a large vocabulary, including a lot of Agility words. He understood words even when spoken by others: he was deeply impressed by the automated voice that said "Wait" in commanding tones at a pedestrian crossing on Phinney ridge.
After we gave up agility, and both dogs started attending their "Advanced Obedience" classes, I did a couple of classes of Noseworks with Joshua, to give his inventive mind a new outlet. He took to it well, progressing rapidly to search for the small tin with oil scent. Together, we taught Benedict at home, and then they would take turns. It was interesting to watch them. Benedict probably had the better nose (and much worse eye sight) and he would search very consistently for a dog otherwise so hyper. For Joshua it was a game of memory and psychology: he would try to second-guess my intentions and first check all the places it had recently been before settling down to search properly -- in a small house in winter it was hard to find new places to put the tin. Like other games, such as backyard agility and figure-8s and clover-leaves round the living room chairs, this game lapsed a bit as the dogs became older. However, after Benedict's death, it again became a regular part of the after-dinner routine for Joshua and me in Seattle. One of the first signs of Joshua's nerve damage was a difficulty in tapping the tin lightly with his right foot to show he had found it,
For such an active and "into-everything" dog, Joshua was very clean and tidy. His thick coat was impervious, and sand and mud would seem to slide off him before he even got into the house or car. His bedding, even though shredded, was always cleaner than Benedict's, and the windows on "his" side of the car remained clear. Joshua was very fussy about where to pee and defecate; always in a tidy off-the-path place. Benedict was not nearly so, and Joshua would sometimes follow his lead, but after Benedict was gone, Joshua would spend a long time seeking a suitable spot. The kennels reported he would no longer pee in his run, but demanded to go out -- something they indulged him in as a much-loved older dog. In his last winter, as an only-dog again, he rediscovered (very mild) cross-country skiing with me, and at aged 11 there were still those tidy rectangular Joshua-sized channels in the soft snow; he still always wanted to be outside to see what was going on in the world. Into the Spring, he was still himself: just two weeks before he died, on his last time at the cabin, he made several determined efforts to eat the pile of grass clippings brought over from Seattle as mulch.
Joshua never "grew up". He was small and stocky, had an endlessly endearing puppy outlook, and retained his puppy-faced looks. Only in his last 3 weeks did he lose the twinkle in his eye and the happy tail, but he was still eating well, and would invariably get himself up for meals. He was still determined and independent, insisting on his daily walk and resisting attempts to help him. The last night before his MRI, he did not get up to go to bed, so I gave him his goodnight biscuit and left him on the living-room dog bed, At 2:00 a.m. he got up, came to find me, and told me it was time for bed! I let him in the yard, he went, and got himself back in, and gave him another goodnight biscuit -- somehow he managed to get himself into bed in his beloved crate, and in the morning was there in his usual position, and got himself up and again on his own out to the back yard. Returning he wondered where was breakfast, but was satisfied by his pills and a small treat.