Saturday, July 13, 2013

Goodbye My Love

In early 2001, Stacie and I welcomed a 10 week old shepherd, retriever mix in to our home. I saw her humane society adoption photo on the internet and immediately was drawn to the fuzzy, cute little "bear" with the kindest eyes. She was as sweet as her eyes suggested and we quickly fell in love with her.  She was a great fit for an active young couple with no kids.  We had no idea how much she would impact our lives for more than a decade.

Our lives changed again when we came home from work Friday afternoon. She came to the door to greet us as usual but she just looked so small and pitiful with her ears back on her head and tail tucked firmly between her legs.  We knew immediately that something wasn't right but I was just hoping she had slept wrong and the arthritis in her hip was aggregating her. She stood up for a few moments and then lied back down while we got ready to take her outside to do her business.  After a little resistance, I was able to get her to stand up and then carried her outside so she didn't have to battle stairs until she stretched out her legs.  She did her business and as she walked towards me she was wobbly with all of her legs and she just collapsed as her legs gave way. At that point my fear was she have a pinched nerve that was causing partial paralysis. I carried her to the back yard to let her relax in the soft grass and sunlight. After she unsuccessfully tried walking again I picked her up and carried her inside. She had no interest in eating but she would drink the water I put before her so we made plans to take her to her vet in the morning. Later in the night I carried her up to the bonus room so she could watch TV with me and I got down on the floor with her and just loved on her until I got in my the bed. Stacie had already gone to sleep in a guest room to avoid the TV noise.  Sometime in the night, she walked to the guest room and took her "safe" spot underneath the end table where she hides during fireworks and thunderstorms.  She wasn't in her spot long before she started howling.  She has never done anything like this before so Stacie woke me up and we immediately drove her to the emergency vet.

We arrived at the vet and they immediately started to examine her and took her away for X-rays and to draw blood.  The vet came back and informed us that her spleen had ruptured due to pressure from masses surrounding it.  She was extremely weak because she was bleeding out internally.  The vet could have performed an emergency splenectomy but gave her very low odds of even surviving the anesthesia due to her age and heavily weakened condition.  Even if she did survive until surgery, it is very likely that the cause of the problem would be cancerous masses.  Stacie and I had already agreed that we would not put her through any aggressive surgery especially if she was possibly cancerous.  We were really just hoping she was just going to need a pain and cortisone shot and we could schedule light surgery if necessary.  Unfortunately, this was not the case.  We tearfully told the vet of our decision and asked to see our little one for one last time.  They brought her back to us wrapped up in comforters on the little pet gurney and we let her know how important she had been to our life and we were grateful she made us a family.  We continued to love on her as long as possible and then released her for the last time.

Every waking hour since then has been a constant struggle to accept that she is no longer sharing our home with us.  We had developed so many habits, patterns, and schedules that we find ourselves acting as if she is still around and have to have our hearts broken just a little more each time we realize that she's not.  Everything from taking her out in the morning, daily sharing cheese as I add it to my grits, the places in the house where she normally would be at certain times of the day.  Every knock on the door that isn't followed by protective barking and then excitement as she realizes who's visiting us.  For me, evenings after Stacie has gone to bed have been the hardest because she would join me on the couch for hours while I watched way too much TV.

The rest of this post is just a collection a memories, rants, and wishes.

I miss my couch buddy.

I have never cried this much in my life. I have been very fortunate to have never experienced this kind of loss in the first 42 years of my life.

We were cheated out of at least 1, possibly 2 years of how much more time we should have had with her.  At 12 1/2, she wasn't young, but we incorrectly assumed she was in good health.  We consistently took her for all of her scheduled appointments but unless you looking for everything, every time, you just don't know what could be coming.

I know we will have more dogs some day in the future but I am positive that we will never have the perfect combination of looks, personality and intelligence that she possessed.  I mean she was really smart and never did any of the destructive things that many curious dogs do.

Oddly, she rarely farted.  In fact when she would do it, it usually startled her.  I just mention it because I know plenty of people that have dogs that often run everyone out of the room with gas.  How's that for a quality to remember?  Sorry babe, it just came to mind.

When I took this picture years ago in our old house, I always thought it was a perfect shot of how an angel would look as a dog.