Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Dog's Tale: The End of the Story

A week ago Thursday I wrote my last post here. It was called One Dog's Tale, and was about the importance of the time I was spending with my dog Hershey, as her health slowly declined. Sadly, a week after that post, we would need to say goodbye to our sweet dog.

On Sunday, at a family get-together, we were talking about our hope that she would make it through the holidays. The next day, she started to have trouble walking. At first we thought she might have slipped going up or down the stairs during the night as she would come up to her bed, in the bedroom. In the next two days however, she got worse, not better. The tumors which were all just under the skin, were now appearing and quickly growing on her rib cage. The vet also believed her kidneys were shutting down. All in all, her immune system had enough.

At the beginning of the week, we hoped to let her enjoy one more weekend at the lake, but by Wednesday it was obvious, she was not enjoying anything. I brought her bed down to the living room Wednesday night, and because she seemed to be more uncomfortable, I decided to sleep on the couch to keep an eye on her. It also seems to be a ritual I have when my dogs are near the end. After getting her settled, I fell asleep for a few minutes when I heard her moan. Time to move a little closer, so I took my not-used-nearly-enough exercise mat and got down on the floor next to her. I rubbed her and pet her and talked to her all night. If I would drift off to sleep, I either got a paw swipe or a nose rub, to remind me that this night was not about me. Someone told me she kept waking me up because she knew her time was short, and wanted me to be with her til the end. I think he was right.

It was a long night, but a longer morning waiting for the vet's office to open to make the call.

Saying goodbye to anyone you love is hard, watching them take their last breath is even harder. As I had with my other two dogs, I kept my face in front of hers til the end. I don't know what she was feeling, but I wanted the last thing she saw to be the face of someone who loved her completely.

As with any eulogy, I thought it would be nice to remember a few of the sweet things about Hershey.

Whoever owned her before she became a stray, took time to train her. She was generally well-behaved, though wary of strangers. One day, probably months after she came home, it was time for a walk and one of us told her to go get her leash... and she did. So this became part of the routine. The interesting thing is we had two leashes for her. One that was aqua, matched her collar, and was for going for a regular walk. The other was a leftover from Norton, our last dog, and we used that for a quick trip out to the backyard, or when she was in the car. She knew the difference, and would routinely fetch the correct one for the occasion. The few times she picked incorrectly, we would say "no," and she would drop the wrong leash and pick up the right one. I never did remember to get it on video, I'm not a big video taker.

The one other fun thing she would do would be ask for permission to jump on the couch. Yes, we let our dogs on the couch, I like having them there. Apparently in her first home, this was not the case. Now if she was home alone, or if we were home and not on the couch, she had no problem just making herself at home. But if one of us was on the couch, she would walk over and give a little woof, or cry, look at us, then put her head on the couch. And this would go on until we gave her "permission" to jump up. It was a very sweet thing that made us laugh, every time.

Of course there are so many other things you remember. Like the relationship she had with her favorite peeps. Every relationship was unique, mine was different from Freddie's. My mom's had a different basis, as did my dad's when he was still with us. And the one she had with her "uncle," well that was another animal onto itself. But through it all, she was just a dog who unexpectedly became part of a family..

A family that is a lot sadder today. Another friend told me that he had recently gone through this, and one thing that helps is knowing that all dogs go to heaven. I agreed and only hoped she would put in a good word for me.

Goodbye sweet girl.

I Don't Like Mondays Blog Hop

Thursday, October 10, 2013

One Dog's Tale

I find myself having some very meaningful discussions lately, even though they are a bit one sided. I work from home, and so it's me and the dog. They had named her Hershey at the first animal shelter where she was brought after being a stray for a while. Looking at her chocolate coat and yellow eyes, the name seemed to fit, so we kept it.

The initial shelter had no luck finding a home for this very large, somewhat scary looking dog, so they transferred her to a shelter with more traffic when her time was about to be up. They knew she was a good dog and thought she deserved all the chances she could get. And happily for all those involved, fate lent a hand.

It had been a year and a half since we lost Norton the Wonder Dog. He was one in a million, and it took a while to be ready for another pooch to take over and run the place. When realized we would always mourn him and that was that, we started talking about getting another dog. In a casual conversation with some neighbors at the weekend house, they told of a shelter we should visit. I went online, looked at the facility and the dogs available. There were three that were possibilities, Hershey was one of them.

When we arrived that weekend, one dog was already adopted, one was an adolescent with more energy than I thought I could handle, and then there was this big, brown sweetheart. Part Chesapeake Bay Retriever and part who knows. We've always thought some kind of hound by her gait, but it really didn't matter. Our brief introduction consisted of taking her out of her pen to a field outside. Once on the grass, she peed and I thought that was a good sign. I told her to sit, she did. I knelt next to her and put my arm around her, she didn't flinch. Sold.

We brought her home the next week.

She had a few issues, all dogs do, but nothing to ever make us second guess our decision. That was over eight years ago. They thought her age was around three when she was found, so for a large dog, she's getting up in age... and it's showing.

Her health is declining, kidneys, tumors, and a few other things. Getting old isn't pretty for man or beast. So lately, it seems the time we spend alone together every day is more significant. So we talk. Or I talk and she listens. I seem to spend a lot of time telling her that she's a good dog. I tell her I know she can't help what's happening to her and I will take care of her as long as I can. I tell her she can't help at times being such a bitch, just like I can't help it either. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Anyway, she seems to enjoy the added attention. When she stops being interested and shies away from the contact, I'll know we are getting close to saying goodbye.

But for now, we take every day as one to treasure. She takes everyday as one to be spoiled. It seems to work for all involved.

Time for a biscuit.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Congress Doesn't Care, But We Do

So the idiots in Washington have shut down the government.

Don't even get me started about that. While I do feel I have a good rant inside me, I think it's better to be a little constructive instead. If this crap doesn't end quickly, people... regular people, are going to start hurting. Imagine it's your family whose main paycheck has been suspended. Worse yet, imagine both heads of household are government workers, and overnight there is no income to feed your family.

We can do something to help.

It's almost the time of year when Food Banks begin their big push to start stocking up for the holidays. So, let's get the ball rolling to fill the shelves a little early in anticipation of the many families across the country who will be forced to look to others for the basics.

I started thinking about this very seriously this afternoon, after reading a couple of tweets from The Bloggess, of She tweeted about the Food Bank issue, and I thought, why can't we pass this along from blogger to blogger, from FaceBook page to FaceBook page, and so on. All over social media.

So here's what I think.

First, Pack up some food, toiletries, pet food and household items and take them to your local food bank.
Second, share this blog, write your own, tweet the message, FaceBook it, whatever. Let's just start thinking of all the people that Congress has chosen to forget.

And don't forget about Animal Shelters and Pet Pantries. They always need your help.

This is easy stuff people. No excuses.

What are you waiting for? Go.