"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."- Roger Caras
A few months ago my Mom shared a post on Facebook about why we mourn the loss of pets, specifically dogs, so deeply. I read it but posted back quickly that I had no need of this post because Schultzy, our thirteen year old German Shepherd, had years left. After all she was "the Baby". And usually when we called her that it was followed by quoting the baby from the 90's TV show dinosaurs. You know the one that would always say "I'm the Baby; gotta love me."
|I'm the Baby|
I was wrong.
Meg and I got home from work late on July 4th and since the next night we were working overnight and didn't have to be back to work until 6pm we decided to stay up late and watch a movie. Which is why at 1am we were on the couch in the living room while Schultzy sat chewing on her pacifier. Meghan noticed something wrong before I did. But it only took her a moment to realize what was happening. Schultzy was having a seizure. I jumped off the couch to try and keep her still. Meg began searching for the phone number of the emergency vet that our regular vet recommended in a previous conversation. Maybe it took her 2 minutes. Then she was on the phone with them telling them what was happening. They tried to figure out if there was some place closer to bring her but it was only a minute difference in time. Schultzy was still seizing. She would try to get up but couldn't. Her paws were stretched out locked at the elbows. Her brown eyes at some points seemed blood shot and would roll back and then return. A few times it seemed like it was stopping but then it would start up again.
We folded up a quilt and lied it next to her. I was afraid we would not be able to get her up and into the car. But we were able to get her on the quilt and lift her. As we were walking out of the garage she bit the handle of a jug. It took almost a minute at least for Meg to get her to release. She also bit the blanket when it was close to her mouth. We got her in the back of the car and I sat back with her again trying to keep her calm. Meg began driving towards the vet.
We both kept talking to her as I pet and rubbed her ears. She loved that, being pet behind the ears. And she always loved being spoken to. Even though we were pretty sure she was going deaf she still would react to us speaking to her. I'm sure she recognized facial expressions and probably some lip movements. She was very smart. She knew several hand commands and I don't think it was a stretch that she would recognize lip movements of words like a hand command. After all when we had begun spelling words that she knew like 'leash' and 'treat' she eventually recognized the spelling as the word.
When we pulled into the parking lot the vet was ready with a wheeled table and they rushed her inside. By now the seizure had been going on for at the least 40 minutes. We knew. We knew in the car as we drove. We knew in the house when it didn't stop after five minutes. We knew.
There is one thing in this world that Schultzy always wanted. And that was to be with us. She wanted to be in the room with us right at our feet. If we split up into multiple rooms she would lie in between them or have to constantly check where we were. She had a wonderful knack for lying down and settling exactly where we needed to be. If we were in the kitchen at the sink she would lie in front of the dishwasher. She would lie in doorways and on feet so that no one could move without her.
|Not one not two but three doorways blocked!|
So if there is one good thing about this. It is that if it was going to happen at least it happened when we were home down stairs with her. In the vet's office we stood with her. She was calmed by medicine but her legs were still locked because even after three rounds of medicine the seizure was still progressing. We both stood with her, petting her and rubbing her ears, looking her in the eyes, and speaking to her until she had passed.
Schultzy had very expressive eyes. Looking in her eyes I could tell she was confused. But also she knew we were with her and she believed us when we told her she would be ok. And that it would be ok.
The vet said that we couldn't know for certain without further testing but it is likely she may have had a brain tumor and that we couldn't have known and not to try and think for missed signs. But there was one strange moment a little less then two weeks ago when our three cats (Tipperary, Roma, and Napoli) who normally avoided Schultzy all decided to come down and sit with us and her. Maybe they sensed something.
It is very strange waking up in the morning and not having to come walk her. Or coming home and not having her here waiting.
And now it is silly things that keep coming to mind. Like the way she held her favorite toy, her pacifier, when she chewed on it. Or how she would sleep on it.
And also she loved water. She would drink until her bowl was empty ever since she was a puppy. And she loved snow and ice. In fact ice cubes were her favorite dog treat.
We called her the best bad dog ever. She had very high anxiety and if she were left alone she would destroy anything. She ate a linoleum floor as a puppy, she broke a door and door handle, she put a hole in the drywall, she ate out the cat door in my laundry room to make it big enough for her to fit through, and she destroyed two dog cages. But at the root of all her bad behavior was a desire to be with us just to be near those who loved her. Which is why she was the best most loyal bad dog. And no matter what she did you couldn't stay mad at her when she looked up with those deep eyes. She was a crazy dog and now our lives are a little less crazy without her.
"There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief."- Aeschylus