Canine Carpe Diem
I have sooo very many thoughts running through my mind right now, not many that are truly coherent so we will see how this all lays down.
As many of you know both Chet and I lost our dogs this past weekend. And although I hate to keep talking about it, I just can’t seem to fight the feeling that I need to write a couple of cathartic articles.
I am numb. I hurt from my soul through each and every bone in my body.
My days have consisted of getting up in the morning to let my other fur kids out; letting them play and then going back to bed, then letting them out to play again and then praying it is time to go to bed for the night. My dreams seem to be the only time I see him now.
I can’t eat because each meal I miss his little face begging at the bottom of my chair, I’ve lost 10 pounds on one week.
If minds could have levitated food, he would have been a rotund little ottoman with legs. There was not a bite that I ate that was not counted and cataloged in his little brain.
He was almost 13 and so I didn’t care that I never ate a meal without the glare of little brown eyes trying not only to gaze at the food but also to give me the eye contact I had so intensely taught him that I loved.
Drool often formed shoe laces from his watery lips down to the floor or onto my damp leg. It is a good thing I would rarely grab a snack while I was dressed up for some social gathering.
Truth be told, I hate social gatherings so that made it even less prominent.
I guess I never minded his begging in his old age. He was on phenobarbital to keep his seizures at bay and he was on prednisone (a steroid) to decrease the swelling in his brain from the meningitis. Both of those made him feel as if he was famished constantly.
When he was a youngster I could have left a sandwich on the couch without a worry about him stealing it… as an older (sick) dog I couldn’t have left a cardboard cutout the looked like a sandwich on the sofa without it being ravished.
At twelve and a half and with meningitis affecting his health he lived a fairly lackluster life. He could no longer go hiking or anywhere in the extreme heat; although we did try and take him swimming and I would take him on a car ride as often as possible.
His balance wasn’t so great so we had to take the curves extra slow, but he loved each time we went out even if he slept 90% of the time, he just loved to “go”.
I recognize I was lucky to have twelve and a half years. I was blessed for each day I spent with him.
But there was no warning. Although he was “sick” in general and “old” there was no warning to his last day or his last evening. He woke up (the morning I was scheduled to drive to NYC to see my sister) and he was having slight trouble breathing. My husband thought I was over reacting as I raced him to an emergency clinic, but I knew my boy and I knew something was wrong.
Cancer had filled his lungs and nothing could be done to save him for even give him one more comfortable day.
I had so much planned for him.
I was going to get video of him “smarling” this cute little thing he did when he smiled at me and almost snarled when I stopped stroking his fur.
I was going to get an impression of his nose print (dog nose prints are like human finger prints, no two are the same) to make a pendant that I would have forever. But financial difficulties kept making me put it off till tomorrow or till he showed signs of getting sick.
My Advice to You
You never know when you will have your last moments with your best friend, human or canine.
Take pictures, take a million of them if you want mark them with their age and save them somewhere. Do it weekly or monthly. You will never be sorry you have “too many”. But you will mourn that you do not have enough.
Take video of the silly and goofy things you do together.
We live in a world where even our phones can take video and pictures; take advantage of that blessing and use them!
We suffer from Alzheimer’s in my family and my biggest fear is that I will forget all the wonderful little moments we spent together.
Take him/her everywhere you can. Make time to spend together.
Set time aside every day for massage and bonding and talking together. Every morning when he realized I was awake he would throw himself down next to me and I would rub his tummy and scratch his rump.
Do all you can so that you will have fewer regrets.
Regrets hurt and make the grieving process worse. Cherish each moment you are blessed to have because tomorrow is never promised!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.