Sunday, February 22, 2009

saying goodbye...

Taz, the much loved American Eskimo "little man"

The house seems empty today. And when I rolled over this morning, I expected to find a white furred body snuggled cozily into my comforter and the small of my back. { It was his favorite place to sleep. }

"Oh, you have to go to work? I'll just stay here and snooze....."

He came into the family when he was five { or maybe six, they weren't sure }, a second-timer at the pound. He'd been adopted as a puppy by an elderly gentleman. When the man went into rehab for a broken hip, his children took Taz back to the pound. The local paper used to feature a Hot Dog/Cool Cat in every Sunday edition about an animal available for adoption. It was December 2003 and at the first glimpse at the picture, there was no doubt that this was a dog for me.

Acquiring a dog may be the only opportunity a human
ever has to choose a relative. { Mordecai Wyatt Johnson }

I called the pound the moment I woke up Monday morning, and was there by the time they opened. When I hit the door, there was this flurry of motion from the kennel at the far end. A blur bouncing up and down like a pogo stick. Seems Taz knew I had come just for him. In the end, it turned out that I took him and his kennel mate, a Belgian sheepdog named Angel, home to stay.

He was the perfect dog. Never barked, never chewed, was content to go riding in the car for hours, and even came programmed with tricks. He could sit, shake with both paws, dance on his hind legs, and my favorite of all -- "a little bit louder now" speaking.

Sitting obediently I would command him to speak and receive a whispery wuff in response. As I would give the command several times more, it kept getting louder in increments. It was adorable and chock full of his personality.

"Whatcha talkin' 'bout, hmmm?"

The first spring we had him, he would often pull an escape artist and bolt out of the house. His previous owner had lived about half a mile from us, and he always seemed to try and work his way that direction. It was my birthday and I had been sick. My friend Susan had come over to visit and bring me presents and get-well essentials, only for Taz to slip through both our legs. I tossed her the keys to the family minivan and asked her to follow me as I took off on foot. I must've looked a fright in slippers and pajamas, my hair piled on top of my head and with a red nose. Through backyards and driveways we weaved until finally he grew tired or took pity on me and gave up his tour of the neighborhood. He never tried to get loose again.

Many who have spent a lifetime in it can tell us less of love
than the child that lost a dog yesterday. { Thornton Wilder }

I came home last night from an afternoon of treasure-hunting and an evening of pizza and cards to find him having another series of what we had thought were seizures. He'd had his first about three weeks ago and while on the phone with the vet, she told us that there were just as many risks with anti-stroke/seizure meds as there were benefits. She advised to just keep an eye on his eating and drinking. I tried to hand feed him and it was as if he was completely short-circuited. It was heart-breaking to watch him struggle and lean against the wall for support or lower his head into the water bowl and not drink. I cuddled with him in the chair rubbing his ears and making over him while my mother called and consulted with the vet. In discussing his symptoms further, the vet confirmed that they were indeed strokes and that if he had lost the ability to eat and drink, he was only going to further decline until an episode caused a heart attack or for him to tumble down the stairs. The decision was made to meet the vet at the animal hospital. She would evaluate him and then the decision would have to be made to hospitalize or... euthanize. My brother and sister-in-law came over to sit with us. It was snowy slush and freezing quickly, so my brother drove my mother and Taz and I stayed home with Sara.

I was a wreck. Completely dissolved into the "ugly cry".

The vet confirmed that there were strokes happening one after the other that weren't evident to the naked eye and that he had lost the bulk of his sight and perception, and the faculties of his tongue. As it turned out, there wasn't really a decision to be made.

God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it
takes my dog being there,
I believe he'll be there. { Billy Graham }

My brother held him until the end, and said Taz went to sleep as he always did... front paws crossed with his head resting on them. He was the sweetest dog. The vet told my mother that with an animal as special as he was, you aren't ever really an "owner"... but just blessed to be able to share your life with them for the appointed season.

Our family was indeed blessed.

My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet. { Edith Wharton }


TxScrapAddict said...

Hugs in your difficult time.

Heather said...

I know I already talked to you but again, I am so sorry. I know its hard to fill the little holes in our hearts that these fuzzy babies leave. This was a really nice tribute, he felt your love for sure Adair.

Susannah said...

My heart and thoughts are with you. No one who has never given their heart to a dog can know the pain of loss. They wait for us at the rainbow bridge to cross over with us into heaven. I will see my playful Shagg, my faithful Morgan, and my sweet Molly again. We will all be together in perfect peace. Taz will meet you there.