it's not the edge of the earth, but you can see it from here
Lost a Good Dog today...
suddenly, shockingly... I came home from work to find my Shenanigan gone.
She'd been a little out of sorts last night, whined a titch, threw up 3x, and wanted out. After coming in, she settled down to sleep. Subconsciously, I wonder if I knew something was wrong, because I woke up after just a very short sleep, and in that weird twighlight panicked because I thought I could not hear her breathing--then I heard her snoring and went back to sleep.
Left for work at 00:dark:30 and while she was a little subdued, it wasn't anything more than perhaps she got into the butter *again.* She drank some, and wagged her tail... and I thought passingly she wasn't quite right, but had no idea...
Came home and she was gone. I called the vet, I'm not sure exactly why... but vet felt more that it would be cardiac rather than bloat. I worried it was bloat after last night... I will torture myself with that for awhile.
After I lost my Good Big Black Dog, O'Malley, the closest thing to a significant other I'd ever had... I knew that no dog could ever fill his shoes, or live up to his giftedness... But the house was too empty. I decided I wanted a nice adolescent (puppys ARE fabulous, but really, I did not want another 18 mos-2yrs of chewing, accidents, crate training etc.) Golden.Male, definitely. Perhaps one too rambunctious for it's owners, perhaps one that didn't like children or 'needed room to run.' I had worked a couple years at a kennel for one of the top K9 trainers in the US. I smugly figured I could do obedience--and then agility of course--with said 'second chance' adolescent and be all set.
I saw an ad in the local classified for "Golden Retriever/yellow lab crosses" 3+ months old.
I called, yes, there were three left. A little younger than I wanted... but... sounded right. I drove out to the back of beyond... you could hear the fiddle music playing in the backgound... Upon arrival I found three older pups in a rusted sheepwire pen. The mud/muck was ankle deep. Water was in a few old refrigerator drawers, and was filthy, rusted and had things moving in it. There were many old, poopy newspapers all over. I remember as a kid we'd put the puppy papers in the spot we wanted the puppy to learn to use... fleetingly I wondered if the filth was intentional? I vividly remember parking at the end of the driveway--by the pen--but I don't remember why. Dog owner came down to talk to me with Mama in tow.
Mama was 1/2 Black Lab and 1/2 SharPei. Honest to God. And I believed it. I had NO reason to doubt it. You could see exactly which part she got from which parent. You could also count the bugs jumping around her skin because she had little in the way of coat. I could only imagine what was nested in those wrinkles.
Dad was supposedly a "Yellow Lab." It was only a while later as she matured a little and showed very strong Viszla characteristics that a few of us put two and two together. Her father lived a few houses down from her mother... and was in fact, a multi championed show Viszla that used to be groomed and boarded at the kennel I worked at. Small world.
Owner says both boy puppies were sold (since just this morning?) but the last girl is still there. Lets her out. This lanky, rail skinny pup comes GALLUMPHING up to me grinning. Her pasterns almost touched the ground, and her hocks did not look right. You could count her ribs--and CLEARLY see one was broken. Just about the spot where someone's boot toe would catch... you could see the fleas jumping on her. And she climbed up into me and started licking my chin...
I threw the $50 at the lady before I could change my mind. (don't ask) I figured since this pup was the exact opposite of what I wanted, I would take it to the humane shelter the next day. I could NOT leave it there. All I could think of was at 3 months a puppy should be a butterball turkey, not a refugee from a concentration camp.
Of course, by the time we drove home with her gazing adoringly at me the whole 90 minutes... then bathed in puppy flea bath... then attempted going out... I was done for. Everything with O'Malley The Bold was "No. Don't. Off. LEAVE IT." With this little girl if I so much as raised my voice to normal speaking, or stepped too quickly, she cowered in fear. It was all positive affirmation, "Goooooood giiiiirlll...., whosea gooood girl?" Polar opposites.
And hence, no comparisons. Not a thing to live up to.
The next day at the vet's, he wasn't entirely sure her angular limb deformities would clear up. They were, he said, from nutritional deficiency. And she might grow and put on weight only to find the limbs couldn't take it and she'd have to be put down. She also appeared to have survived parvo somehow (hence her emaciated state.) The rib was healing, may always have a knot there. Asked who kicked her.
Well, she grew alright, but she grew strong and straight and healthy. She became confident and secure. When I brought home from work a pitiful kitten that had been 'run over' between the wheels of a car... couldn't have been more than 3 weeks old... I tried to isolate her in the bathroom until the next day when we could see a vet... Shenanigan moved the towel that was blocking the high-clearance door, managed to either coax or pull (! ) the kitten out, and bring her to bed. Not once, but twice. The second time I gave in and let her keep her kitten. She carried Cluey around quite a bit in those early days. Clue was always HER cat, never mine.
Shenanigan was scheduled for her spay appt when my Mum had an aneurism and brain surgery. Shenanigan therefore missed her appointment, and Murphy being as Irish as he is, got knocked up by the neighbor's unneutered adolsescent male. As embarrassed as I will eternally be by that... those puppies are the best dogs on the planet. She had a ginormous first litter of 13, and all lived. Each and every one found an amazing family home and is cherished to this day. Mutts to be sure, but the kind of Good Big Dog you could ever want... And while I am so, so very aware of the plight of unwanted animals--and mortally shamed by my unwed teenaged mother--I also would somehow wish for every true dog lover at some point in their life, to experience puppies... from the beginning. From Malarkey who didn't want to be born, to Eamon who at a mere 4 weeks would sprawl at my feet and gaze at me with the purest, most passionate *adoration* in his eyes... (yes, I kept both. How do you choose between that?) To the snuffle of puppies when you arrive home... that contented, healthy, 'snuffling'. The sheer, pure, elemental joy of sitting down in the middle of a dozen wee little creatures who seem to exist only for laughter and loving...
That was ten short, fast years ago. Her face was starting to grey this year noticeably. She had the chiseled look of a fine Arabian horse. Her stretched belly and teats were testament to my bad husbandry. She ruled the boys with an iron fist. Sometimes I'd get mad at her because she'd snap at them. SHE was their Mother, afterall.
She loved being a farm dog, but loved being a house dog even better. Sprawled near me, always, when I was home. Hogging the bed. Always *touching* and wanting to lick in the way of females.
The boys are looking for her tonight. Malarkey immediately rushed into the bedroom when I got home and let them out of their crate after finding her. He sniffed and checked... he's been back to the empty bed now several times. He stayed with Gus when Gus died in my arms in October. He Knows. Eamon seemed oblivious, but is looking for her and whining ever so slightly.
I wish I knew what happened, but a necropsy would be mostly foolish at this point. I asked the vet if I needed to bring in the small stool sample she left in the kitchen, she felt no... it wouldn't tell us anything.
In a way, this sudden tearing, wrenching away is the last gift Shanny gives me. She quieted last night and was not showing any distress, or I would have made some difficult decisions about the Emergency Vet on a holiday weekend... she took those choices away from me by settling down and being peaceful... perhaps by being stoic. I will always wonder what exactly happened, but at least I don't have to wonder "what if." She saved me that.
God must need a lot of good horses and dogs. Too, too many have gone lately. I've already caught myself looking for her twice. I have to bring her to be cremated tomorrow... adding insult to injury there is four feet of snowpack and I cannot bury her next to O'Malley, Integrity, and the others who started this farm with me and are now beneath the giant Mountain Ash... I'm mostly ok with that, it's not her. She's gone.
When we loose them, every time... I ask myself why I do it. I get into this knowing the odds are I'll outlive them. And when each of them leaves they take a part of me. I wish I could remember this pain when the time comes and another one finds me... because right now, the ache is almost more than I can bear. Almost. But then my Mum reminded me of a silly story, of how much joy Shenanigan brought. How she healed me after the devastation of loosing O'Malley. (how she dug up the wall-to-wall carpeting when being left behind in my bedroom at home at my parents during Mum's surgery and subsequent time in hospital! That carpeting was just finally replaced this year. Mum doesn't remember anything about that time, but the area rug covering the destruction told the story of my being there... )
But we do it. We go on, and we let another one in eventually... because dogs remind us what it is to be loved unconditionally.
That's a beautiful story. I'm so glad you got her when you did and managed to give her such a long and happy life. I'm also glad you delayed her spaying so you can still have parts of her with you now.
I'm so sorry for your loss and I'm aching with you right now
Dad brought Duchess home on my sixth birthday, and she was the most beautiful black lab puppy on the planet. My younger brother would put her in the back of his Tonka truck and push her around. She grew into the finest bird dog in five counties. Everyone wanted to go out with dad and "Dutch". We had pheasant and rabbit every holiday of my childhood as far back as I can remember. She was a constant companion and chaperone, and put up with everything we asked of her as children. As she aged, she moved into the house, and was seldom far from my mother's feet, though as soon as dad put on the one vest he saved for hunting, she'd be instantly at his side, big tail wagging, ready to jump in the truck. As time went by, dad had to help her into the truck, then he finally hung his jacket up, knowing she was just too stiff and sore to do it any longer. She had a lifelong phobia of the vet's office, every trip was beyond an ordeal for even the most minor thing, she simply loathed the smell of the old country vet's place, dad only took her as often as necessary.
The fall of my 27th year, she was almost deaf, her vision had diminished and she was barely able to go outside to relieve herself. On a warm sunny Saturday morning, my father got his hunting vest out one final time, and as soon as Dutch smelled it, with sheer force of will I watched her rise and go to my father's side. I knew that my father was doing the final kind thing for her by not making her final hours miserable, but rather taking her one final time to the hills and fields she loved and hunted all those years. It was the ultimate unselfish act, I knew when they left she would not be with him when she came home. He buried her there in the field she loved under the old oak.
How lucky we are to have loved them, luckier still to be loved by them.
That was a beautiful tribute to your Shenanigan. I think its all how we feel about our beloved pets. They just aren't here long enough.
I thought it was something how your poor dog was kicked as a young pup, yet one of the greatest joys she brought you was her litter of pups and all their energy and just happy vibes they emanate.
For what its worth, my Sasha passed this last labor day. I was with her when it happened. We think she threw a clot. She died very peacefully at home. I could not find a vet to euthanize her, and she was petrified of vets anyhow, so this was a much more peaceful way then having to get her in the car and to a clinic. I believe Shenanigan had a peaceful ending too. I think sometimes, like humans, they leave us in a way that is least disturbing for us.
What a beautiful story. As much as I agree with you about irresponsible breeding I can't help but be glad of Shanny's little indiscretion. May you continue to enjoy her through her children while your heart heals.
Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.
That was a beautiful story, thank you for sharing it with us and I hope it helped you as well. She was so lucky to have you come out and rescue her that first day. I've got no doubt in my mind she is out playing with my little pooch.
God Bless your heart.