Your Pet Tributes


by Patty

My faithful companion Dundee.

We were both looking for someone to need us, to comfort us, to show us there was life to be lived and that good still prevails in the end. Twelve years ago, when I went looking for a dog, I thought perhaps I should get a pair of dogs who were used to being together since I knew I would be working a lot. Just such a pair was available and I took them into a small “get to know each other room.” They were smallish black dogs who had spent their entire lives together until their owner passed away. They were noisier than I was prepared for and I wasn’t certain I was up to caring for two dogs. As I kept looking into the cages and all those sad eyes, I came to your pen. You didn’t make an effort to get up to bark at the cage as many others had as if to say, “Pick me!” You just lifted your head and up looked at me with such a sad look I couldn’t look away. I asked to bring you into the “get to know each other room.”

You came into the room and lay in the farthest corner you could and continued to look at me with the saddest eyes I had ever seen. You didn’t bark. I tried to get you to play with a tennis ball but you weren’t interested. Still, I could sense a connection with you. You had been in an accident that left your right hind leg with a scar and a limp. Perhaps it was that we were at a similar point in time in our lives. We had both endured serious injury in mind and sprit and though scarred, we survived. I was thirty-eight years old, recently divorced and working too many hours for my own good. I needed someone to come home to and someone who could be independent enough to care for himself when I was not there. I knew I wanted an older dog – already house-trained and able to be comfortable enough with his own company to not wreck the house when I was gone. The shelter guessed you were four years but really didn’t know.

So, we agreed you would come spend some time with me and we could console and help each other past a time of uncertainty. I took you straight to the vet and asked him to check and see if someone before me had your vocal chords cut. He said no that you had just been at the shelter too long and there were enough other dogs barking that you didn’t need to. It wasn’t until three months later when we went to PetSmart one day, you saw another dog and you barked! I was so surprised and happy that you were able to find your voice again. You have never been a big barker, rather saving it for more important times, like when a FedEx truck goes by.

The two of us developed our routines, me stopping by at lunchtime to let you outside and give you treats. You being so happy to see me.

Things changed, as they often do in life, and we moved to another home with more people, Grandparents and nephews. We spent most of our time together. Yet, when I wasn’t home, Grandpa must have paid attention to you. I noticed when he walked by your tail would start moving in excitement or appreciation.

After three years, we moved again to another house with different people – an aunt and a niece. The stairs were long there too yet you didn’t have any issue with them. You always slept by my bed and we had our rituals about walks, food time, playtime and just rub your belly time! You loved treats! I take the full blame for spoiling you. I could never resist your eyes staring up at me as if to say, “Mom, I know you see me here and I really, really want some of what you’re eating, or, at least a good dog treat!”

Life went on and our last move came. There were new people – members of the household who loved us both and took us in as if we had belonged here all along. You especially loved the now 12 year old boy who came every other weekend and every Wednesday for dinner. Even at this late date, when getting up and down from sitting and walking is hard, you get up, run and find a toy and want to play with him when he is here. It’s the only time you do that anymore.

Over the past couple of years, old age has become your demon. We had to amputate most of your tail, the only part of you I could see when you were traversing along your normal border patrol (after all, you are part Border Collie) behind the deck. You’ve had several infections and many different ailments, the last being your liver failing to operate at full speed so you didn’t want to eat and are so tired! X-rays, scopes, overnight stays at the vet and so much more. You lost almost all interest in anything but sleeping and resting. We tried many ways to see if there was going to be any improvement. At this point, it is hard for you to get up from a laying position. You’ve started to lose control of your bowels, you don’t want any food but “good” people food. and even that, you don’t eat a lot of. The last round of meds isn’t improving your conditions and the vet told us last week that you will only get worse. I recall when I had a very rare and serious allergic reaction to a med that caused my liver to begin to shut down. It landed me in the hospital for a week and I lost 15 pounds! But what I think about most was how much pain I was in- seriously, morphine every hour wasn’t even touching it. It was so off the 1-10 scale, I would say 5000! When a nurse or doctor would ask me that question. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel that much pain. I definitely do not want you to experience anything even remotely that terrible.

Still, I cannot bear to think of you being gone from my side. Since we picked each other twelve years ago, we have been constant companions. We have been through a lot together. In 2008, when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor and eventually had to stop working, you knew something was different. You stayed glued to my side so I called you my shadow!

Now that getting up and down is so hard for you, you lay where you can see me but you don’t follow me everywhere around the house these days. Oh sure, if I head for the refrigerator, you make the effort to head that way, even when I tell you to “Stay.”

I know it is selfish to want to keep you with me as long as possible. My logical brain says, “It’s time to let him rest.” My emotional brain is too sad to agree.

Today, we called the vet back to let her know the meds didn’t seem to be helping and that you had fallen over this morning when trying to go to the bathroom; that while you are eating some rice and hamburger, it doesn’t seem to be helping your stamina or bowels; that you are still sleeping about twenty-two hours every day. We scheduled her visit to our home for Friday at 1 pm. We have started preparing the spot in the woods next to our house where you will be laid to rest.

This is heart-breaking and gut-wrenching for me even though I understand you will no longer be suffering or in pain. What will I do on Monday when Chris has school and I am alone here for the first time without you? I will try to focus on the wonderful joy you brought to my life and many others over the twelve years we shared together, which is longer than many people have shared time and space with me. The bond we share is truly a special one - one I will cherish always. Words can hardly do justice to the depth of feelings and emotions I am overcome with at this point. I know you will understand if I can’t get words out on Friday, try as I might.

Dundee, you are a great dog, good dog, good boy, like I always tell you. I couldn’t have hoped for a better dog and I am so grateful you picked me and let me bring you home all those years ago. Thank you for sharing a part of your life with me.

Good dog. Good boy. See you when I get there. I’ll be sure to bring some good treats! Love always, Patty (better known as Mom to you.)

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