Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Post I never wanted to write



This is a hard one to write, one that I have not been able to face for a few weeks.

Several weeks ago I got a call that my dad was in the hospital for emergency surgery. I loaded up the fur-kids and headed to my parents home, which is several hours from mine and the reason I moved back to the Northern Mid-West from my much loved West Coast.



Saturday morning I came downstairs in my parent's home to find my mom cleaning up after Jenny the Collie. Jenny had been having bowel problems that week but at my home I'd convinced myself that we'd get through this, I fed her some canned pumpkin and we got by. I told my mom I didn't know what was wrong and mom gently said, "I think her body is shutting down."

I called my vet (nearby town to parents because we're there so often) and took Jenny in. The vet agreed, it was Jenny's time. So with much pain despite the inevitability of this time, I said goodbye to my old friend.

Visiting my father in the  hospital that afternoon I reminded myself that I was fortunate, my father was going to recover and Jenny had a good life, having been comfortable for the final 3+ years with a chronic condition that was hard on her body.

On some level I had been expecting this. Personally, I don't think knowing something is coming necessarily makes it easier but at least one isn't taken by total surprise. What happened next though, did surprise me.

 Chi Chi had stopped eating and drinking the morning I took Jenny in. Jenny was his best buddy and when I was at work, he and Jenny snoozed side by side, two seniors comfortable in each other's company. I worried that he was having trouble adjusting. It was worse than that.

His body quickly failed him. He lost control of his body functions. Monday I was back at the vet. Three months previously Chi had a wellness check and at that time he'd been a healthy 7.01 pounds. That Monday he was already down to 6 pounds. He was dehydrated and a different vet than the one I'd dealt with on Saturday - a young person who was trying to be neutral and non-influencing - advised me that I could try taking him home and getting him to drink - his veins were bad enough they couldn't do it intravenously - but that we were still dealing with his underlying neurological condition and ....

I said, "My concern is I would be keeping him going just for me."

Her response, "People do that all the time, we all do."

Personally, I've tried to always avoid that, asking an animal who had lost their overall quality of life to keep living just for me. I looked at my weary little old dog and realized that without his bff he was not wanting to go on. So I had to say goodbye.

It's been a tough couple of weeks and this sorrow will not go away any time soon, I know. We're all adjusting. Lil has become more grey of late and though she is the youngest, seems to feel it is her responsibility to step up and be the Good Girl and Responsible Dog.

She continues to follow me everywhere, which she's always done - she is a Lab. Now however, she sleeps with me every night - she used to just as often sleep in 'her own room' next door to mine. But she's decided I need closer looking after now. And then there's Gracie.


Gracie is a senior now. Nine years old. Which means she acts at her age the way more ordinary dogs behave at a much younger age. She only needs to jump on my head on rare occasions now and is satisfied to try and sit on my shoulder from the back of the couch, like an over-sized parrot, or drape over my lap, as she's always done, but now without exploding off my lap into my face or onto Lil.


Gracie still keeps an eye on all the neighbors. As I reflect though, I think the outraged barking has decreased a little.

Bull Terriers are not noted for being particularly long lived. In the UK where this has actually been investigated, the mean age of the breed is 10. I'm not borrowing trouble and Gracie is currently fit and in good health, seeming younger than she is.
When one has lived with, loved, and lost canine companions though, it seems impossible not to look at the writing on the wall. I expect age may suddenly catch up with Gracie. I'm hoping she will against odds and her ill-planned breeding, prove to be an unusually long lived member of her breed.

We are all aging and doing our best to adjust to what life requires of us as our bodies slow down and our losses compile alongside our gains. I'm grateful for the time I have with canine friends; I miss them so much when they are gone.






23 comments:

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  2. Oops,didn't complete my comment. I'll try again.

    Your description of Gracie being similar to a parrot and launching herself everywhere is just so familiar to another bullie person, and gave me a good laugh.

    Bless your two angels, Jenny and Chi, running free again now. We all (of a certain age, particularly) know exactly what you describe, and it's not much fun. I hope all the wonderful memories quickly replace the sadness of goodbyes, and that lovely Gracie is around, with Lil to keep her company, in health, for a long time to come.

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    1. Katherine, thank you for your kind words.
      I do take comfort in the fact that Chi Chi was pulled from a euthanasia cage in a high kill shelter and that the years we had together were basically "bonus" years for both of us. Similarly, Jenny had health complications that a lot of people would not have dealt with - didn't stop her from being happy but were "gross" to be around. I'm grateful for the time we had together.

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  3. Dear Christy: I am so sorry for your loss, but I know you gave Jenny and Chi a wonderful life while you had them! I hope you are doing OK. Kathy

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    1. Thank you Kathy. I'm getting by with help from my friends.

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  4. Im very sorry for you loss she had a wonderful life with you

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    1. Thank you. As you know too well, our time with them is brief yet they bring us so much happiness.

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  5. I'm sorry for your loss, the price of such a great love.

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    1. Thank you Jan - that's true. Being open to love means grieving loss.

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  6. I'm so sorry to hear your sad news. It's very hard to lose such dear furry friends.

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    1. Thank you. My dear friends live on in my heart and memory. As hard as it is to lose them, I'm grateful for the time we had together.

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  7. When I first found out, I told you I really had no words. I still don't. My heart is broken for you and though you certainly gave Jenny and Chi wonderful care and time... that doesn't take away the pain of loss. I'm sure Gracie and Lil help more than anything. Sending you lots and lots of hugs and love.

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    1. Thank you Sue. I think it is finally starting to sink in that they are really gone. Was just in the grocery store (a long put off trip) and was walking down an aisle with a sudden urge to burst into tears. Managed to get out without incident but I think a large loss takes time to become real.

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  8. My heart is just breaking for you. I am so deeply sorry. Losing one is bad enough, but two, unfathomable. I am so sorry DakotasDen

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    1. Thank you for the kind words Caren.
      I find that it is hard to come to terms with this.

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  9. I am so sorry to hear about Jenny and Chi Chi. My heart aches for you and I'm thinking of you during this difficult time.

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    1. Thank you Beth. I appreciate all the kind thoughts being sent my way.

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  10. I am so very sorry for you. Losing two beloved pals at once seems unbearable.

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    1. Thank you - this is one of those times where one bears what they have to; I suppose if others weren't still relying on me I might just curl up and quit going for a while.

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  11. I cannot comprehend losing two and I feel for you. I found your blog today so I don't know the history of your dogs but losing one of my basset hounds in January I know what you are feeling. I blog about mine every day, sometimes more. They say time will take the pain away but it only numbs it ... try remembering the great times you with both to get through this time. I found blogging about losing my basset helped me during a similar time.

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    1. Hi Steve, thank you for taking time to come by. I hope that blogging does help you through your grieving process. I think I'm finding it harder to write currently but we'll see what time brings.

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  12. Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry, I can't even begin to imagine the heartache you are going through.

    The worst part of being a dog owner is watching them age. When we first found out that Sampson had the irregular heartbeat, heart murmur and adrenal issue, I promised him I would not be selfish and keep him alive for me. I hope I can be as strong as you and live up to that promise.

    Hugs to you.

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    1. Thank you Jodi. I think a peaceful goodbye is the last act of kindness we often are called on to show our canine friends; the inevitability of losing them does not however, make it easier to say goodbye.

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