A sad one today.
When we got married, back in October of 2003, my wife brought with her into the family a little Dachshund, Hannah, which I had bought her for her birthday a few years earlier. Shortly after we got married, we decided to expand our family a bit. I’ve always loved labs, having spent most of my teen years with a pair of labs that my parents had. Jess already had her dog, so we decided to look for lab puppies. We were on a tight budget, so we decided to check the local shelter first. We thought we could save a few bucks, and save a good dog from the shleter at the same time.
So we hopped in the Jeep, and headed to the shelter. It was all of 5 minutes from home. We walked in, and they showed us back to the kennels. Every dog in the place was jumping about wildly and barking at these two new people that walked into the room. All save one. One black dog. A deep shiney black coat, with a spotted chest, and enough white on her paws that she looked like she was wearing a pair of socks. The tag on her pen said that someone left her there, tied to the fence during off-hours. She sat there, silent, with perfect posture, and a wagging tail. Looking at us as if to say, "Get me out of here… I want to go home". That about did it. We went out to the girl that was running the place for the day, and told her we’d like to see her. After a failed attempt to clip her nails, the girl got us the paperwork, er paid her the $35 adoption fee, and out the door we went.
She hopped up into the jeep, and off we went. When we got home, hannah had a fit. She’s been the only dog in the house since we first brought her home. Now we expect her to share her territory with this big oaf. Lady’s her name. And she’s a mix between a lab and a pointer. She’s a little taller than a lab, has some of the body characteristics of a pointer, and the color of a lab. Her hair’s shiney like a pointer, and her spots are most certainly not from her lab heritage. Hannah soon got used to her, she didn’t have any choice.
We had boxes of canned and boxed goods in the house because we had just moved in, she got into those on more than one occasion. We built a pantry, and put the food in there, she got into that more than once until we got the door put on it. She ate half a tub of butter the first thanksgiving we had her, we spent the whole night cleaning up dog puke. She ate numerous napkins, tissues, and various other paper products. One time she actually ate a box of herbal medicine that we’d received in the mail. But all in all, a terriffic dog. Someone had taken the time to train her. She had terrible leash manners, but otherwise, well behaved. She knew how to sit, lay down, and give you her paw. You could walk her without a leash if you were in a wooded area. So she could run about. She’d never get too far from us, it seemed like she had this fear that she was going to get left somewhere.
Nightmares… When we first got her, she would wake us up at night with her nightmares. I dont know what she was dreaming about, but it was enough to make her wimper and cry in her sleep. After a few months with us, they seemed to subside. Something happened to her before we got her, we cant say what, but something was giving her nghtmares. We aimed to make her life with us as pleasant as possible, no more reason to be afraid. And that we did, she had a nice bed, with her own comforter, we even gave her old bed pillows whenever we replaced ours. Two good meals a day, lots of love, and walks. She even went running with us. Hannah, being a short little sausage, couldnt keep up, and with her spine problems, shouldn’t really be walked that much anyway, but lady was eager to go out with us.
She did some of the silliest, and clumbsiest things. She’d walk into walls, and trip over little things. Even walk off of low porches. She’d sometimes trample poor Hannah, and ever trip us. But that was all ok, we loved her. She was such a good dog, and welcome member of the family.
Last year it took her along to JAOCMJ, a jeep trip that i go on annually. She loved every minute, camping, meeting all sorts of people, sneaking food from the campfire. She didn’t really enjoy the jeeping itself, getting tossed around the back of a jeep probably isn’t as fun as it sounds.
Well one day, about a year ago, we noticed a lump on her belly. We took her to the vet, and found out that it was a breast tumor. Apparently, Lady had at one point had a litter of puppies. She was only spayed when she went to the shelter, which is something they do to any dog they get that hasnt already been spayed. I guess when a dog goes through their first heat, whether they have puppies or not, it sets some hormones in motion that makes them more succeptible to breast cancer. So poor lady had what a Woman would call a lump in her breast. The vet recommended that we have it removed, but money was short, and we couldn’t afford the surgery. So we had to let it go, and hope for the best. She was still an active vibrant dog.
After a few months the tumor started to get a little bigger, and it started to bother here, but still, she was alert and not mopey or anything. We took her back to the vet. She took an X-ray of her chest, and took a good look at the tumor. She thought it was getting infected. Why x-ray her chest? Because she thought it was cancer, and if it’s spread into her chest, then there isnt much that can be done. So that tells the vet how to proceed. The x-ray showed spots in her lungs, so now the surgery was out of the question. The vet gave her 6 months at best. We cried for our baby girl… The vet perscribed some medicine that should at least help. So we took the medicine, and went home… After about a week of the medicine, lady was herself again! The lump shrank back to close to its original size, and she was an active dog again. We took it as a good sign, and took her back for checkups regularly.
After a few months, the lump started to bother her again. The vet was hopeful though. She thought maybe it wasnt cancerous after all, and that maybe they were calcuim deposits in her lungs. She ordered another x-ray. The spots weren’t progressing like she thought they would, so she suggests the surgery again. This time we didnt feel like we had a choice. If we left the lump go, Lady would suffer, and it would eventually force us to put her to sleep. There was a chance that if the surgery was done, and went well, she might be able to enjoy a longer life. The vet offered to let us pay her weekly to pay off the surgery. She didn’t want to see us give up on poor lady just because of finances. So we scheduled the surgery. It wasnt as expensive as we expected anyway. She was back in a few days for her surgery. It went well, and she was eager to get out of there! She was back to acting like lady again! The vet sent her home with some more med’s, A row of staples in her belly, and a cone around her head.
After a few days, her incision was healing well, and she was starting to get more active. Everythign was looking good, except one thing. Just before the surgery we noticed that one of her hind legs was swollen. The vet didnt seem to be concerned about it. We figured it must have been from the tumor, and that it would be better after the surgery. Well it wasnt, it was still swollen. We took her back to have her staples removed and pointed the leg out to the vet… More bad news. She was worried that the cancer had spread, and it wasn’t all removed with the surgery. We gave it a little time, and at her next checkup, the vet tells us that she thinks the cancer had spread into her lymph nodes… That’s it, end of story. There’s not much you can do at that point, except make her comfortable, and lover he for the rest of the time she has left.
So that’s what we did. For the past 2 weeks we’ve been giving her all the love we can spare. As of last weeked, she’s stopped eating, and she’s having terrible trouble just standing up. She cant use her swollen leg, and she’s basically walking on 3 legs. She cant get up and down stairs, even going outside to go to the bathroom is difficult for her.
Tonight she’s being put to sleep.
She’s been a good friend, and great companion, and even a pretty good jeep dog.
She’ll be missed.