Friday, November 6, 2009

My Furry Friend

My little dog Susie is very sick. (You can see a picture of her in her usual position on my website under Writing Space.)

She's been with us for 11 years. We found her at an animal shelter in 1998, where she'd been dropped off. She was ill, filthy and had been abused. It took her 6 months to make up with my DH, who loves dogs and is the gentlest of men. If one of us put on a ball cap, she'd go into spasms. Somewhere out there, there's a meany-head in a ball cap. She had no idea what to do with a dog toy or a bone. She wouldn't play at first. She was like a puppy-cipher.

But Susie's personality came back. She learned to love and trust my DH. She began to frisk around. She still doesn't pay any attention to toys, but she loves us and paws the air to greet us when we've been gone for more than 15 minutes. She's been very easy-going about change, making 4 different moves with us. She asks nothing more of life than to spend her days snugged up in the "writing chair" with me.

She's been getting more frail in the past years. Sometimes, her back legs don't seem to do what she wants them to. The people at the pound said her previous owners told them she was about 5 at the time of her drop-off. The vet we took her to said her teeth seemed much older, so there's no telling how old she is now. We always say at least 16.

She's had a bad week with frequent accidents, which is not like her. Yesterday was particularly bad and last night, I couldn't let her sleep at the foot of our bed as usual because she kept wanting to go out every 15 minutes (quite a production when you live in a condo), whether she had any reason to go once she got there or not. After the fourth time out, I put her in her puppy carrier, so my DH and I could get a little sleep. It broke my heart to hear her cry.

I'm making an appointment with her vet today and I'm afraid it may be "that visit." The one where we have to decide. I don't want her to suffer and this week she has. Her little body seems to be wearing out. But if she's just got a GI bug, maybe they can help her. She's bounced back from illness before.

Please say a little prayer for Susie. Do you have a pet?


Jane L said...

Oh Emily, Myheart is breaking, reading this :( I feel so sad for you and your family. We have a puppy a little Pomeranian, he has been with us 5 months now we got him at 6 weeks and I just looked at him and started to cry thinking of your puppy. I pray she is just a little ill and will feel better soon. If it is time, I am sure God will grant you the strength to make the right choices for her and your family! Prayers and Hugs

EmilyBryan said...

Hi Jane. Thanks so much for your note.

Susie has meant so much to me. She's just 8 pounds of love (maybe less now). I know pets are heartache with feet, but she has enriched our lives in so many ways.

The hard part is trying to figure out if this is the time we need to make that ultimate decision for her sake. We tend to keep our pets for the long haul and I'm afraid I avoided making the decision for our nearly 15 year old chocolate lab. Looking back, I realize I was being selfish. I recognize her constant panting now as pain, though I didn't then.

I don't want Susie to suffer. And if I have to part with her, I will stay with her till the end.

Anna Carrasco Bowling said...

Emily, I'm sorry you have to go through this. Furbabies are a special kind of love.

Our Skye kitty reacted the same way at first to black shoes as Susie did to baseball caps. Now Skye will patiently look at the offending shoes until they are removed.

Prayers for you, Susie and vet that the results will be for the best.

EmilyBryan said...

Thank you, Anna.

It seems pretty self-indulgent, weeping over a little dog when so many military families are mourning the loss of their loved ones in Texas. My prayers go out for those victims of such a senseless act.

I should get a grip, but my heart just aches.

Jackie said...

Emily found this by accident and had to respond, sorry it is so long a comment...For a day or for a lifetime our pets give us more joy and love than we can ever imagine. 12 years ago I had to make this horrible choice for the good of my little Toy Fox Terrier Dice, had him from 6 weeks of age until had to put him to sleep at 15 and a half. Too much to comment on as to why let us put it simply, he was in a lot of pain the last 2 days of his life and when Vet said even surgery was no guarantee of my little dog living took the hard choice and let him go. I have had a long time to get over this but am crying as I type because he was my little companion for so long, he loved to play and loved to travel and most of all just loved my husband and myself with every breath he took. I am sorry for you to have to go through this but you and your family have had all these wonderful years with Susie and just like all of us who have lost a little furry baby your memories of the fun and good times will outlast the heartache. My thoughts are with you however this turns out and praying for Susie as well...
Jackie Central Texas

Penny Watson said...

Emily!!!!!! I am saying a prayer for Susie. So sorry you have to deal with this heart ache. I hope she is all right.

Tessa McDermid said...

Emily, I empathize with you so much! Growing up, we had a darling little Susie we found at the pound. She was our family sweetheart, little, feisty and a charmer.

We've had to make the decision you're dealing with twice since we've been married, both for our dogs that had been with us since puppies. The first time was so hard and we waited too long, I think, too. The second time, Sheba passed away the morning we were to go to the vet - the decision was made for us and still difficult. Now we have a new puppy/dog and we're attached to her as well.

Hugs to you, Susie, and your DH.

The Brunette Librarian said...

Emily, just wanted to let you know your in my thoughts today. I have a four year old weenie dog and she means the world to me. In 2005, my 14 year old Cocker Spaniel passed away and it broke my heart. Animals are the most innocent of creatures. I'm sending love from Missouri to you!

Penny Watson said...

I just had to post another comment when I saw RachieG's photo. I have a 2 year old weenie dog--Lucy, a long-haired B/T mini. A couple of years ago we lost our 15 year old dachshund who'd been with us through thick and thin, and it broke my heart, too (and my husband and kids as well)--it is very traumatic. I am sending more good vibes your way, Emily. Hope today goes OK. Keep us updated.

Jane L said...

I am so not focused today, I just keep wanting you not to be sad and your Susie to be ok! It is so hard, these little fur balls are part of our families and we need them so much more than they need us I swear! I sincerely am thinking of you today often and will keep you in my heart! I agree they bring something into our lives when we so need it!

Jane L said...

One last note, The tragedy in Texas is so heartbreaking, any sensless loss of life makes us feel powerless and our sympathies so go out whole heartedly to people who have sacrificed so much already for our country. But the possibility of losing your pet is no less significant in greif, its just different. You most certainly do not have to feel guilty or the need to brush it off because it doesnt compare to their loss. Your loss is heartbreaking, just in a different way. You are a very gracious lady and true midwesterner, putting others before yourself! I get that!

EmilyBryan said...

Just got back from the vet. Susie is at rest.

Given her age (the vet said he'd rarely seen such an old dog) and the sound of her heart, he recommended we put her down. Even when it's the right decision, it's never easy.

I can't say enough good things about the compassion of our vet. He was gentle, professional and let us stay with her through the whole time. At first he was concerned we might find the insertion of the IV traumatic because some dogs cry out (Susie didn't) but I told him my concern was making this as easy as possible for Susie. And having us with her would make it easier. She didn't seem a bit afraid and the last thing she heard was "Good dog."

I miss her terribly. Even now, I can still feel her snugged against my left hip (her favorite side.) I'll be looking for her for weeks, I expect.

Mack, our terrier, is confused and sad because we're all sad. (But he wasn't too sad to scarf up the last of her untouched breakfast. Susie always got soft food because she had so few teeth.)

Susie had a long life and a happy one. She had several excellent puppy adventures--flying in our little Cessna, taking ferry rides in Puget Sound, meeting a moose in the backyard when we lived in Utah--and she logged enough miles in a puppy carrier beneath the seat in front of me when I flew somewhere, I wish she'd been able to have her own frequent flyer number.

My eyes burn from weeping, yet there seem to be more waiting to be shed.

Jackie, Penelope, Tessa and Rachie--Thank you all for your kind thoughts, prayers and wishes.

I take comfort from the thought that the God who knows when a sparrow falls will surely make room in Heaven for a good little dog.

And now I need to try to write. As Norman Mailer said, "Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day."

And this is a very bad day.

EmilyBryan said...

Thank you, Jane, for not belittling my tears.

Maureen said...

So, sitting in Starbucks and James Taylor comes on with Fire and Rain... I am so sorry, Emily. I've been where you are and hope the soft and sweet memories will be the ones that rise to the surface as you grieve.

They pass through our lives so quickly, but provide so much in those quick years. I'm searching my computer for a poem I wrote to send you... It will probably make you cry, but it was for my Archie, who lived with us for 18.5 years.

Meanwhile, my deepest sympathies.


Penny Watson said...

RIP Susie. So so sorry, Emily. What an awful day. If you have never read the book Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant, it is a wonderful and sweet book which will make you feel so much better about Susie. I got it for my kids when we put Rudy down. Lots of love, Nina (Penny)

Maureen said...

Archie's Lullaby

Trust me friend and I will see you safe in stormy seas
I will cover you in softness, as you cared for me
Sweetest of my life's companions, canine child mine
Rest you safely in my arms, my heart and yours entwined.

I have learned so much from thee, the simple pleasures true
These I turn to in my sorrow, as I care for you
The joy of welcome, the sigh of night, the sun's dance in the dust
The comfort of your warmth beside me, full of perfect trust

Friend of springtime, friend of summer, friend of autumn's wane
As you enter life's last winter, I will ease your pain
I will see you in the dreamtime, to the newborn spring
Ah, sweet friend, I remember, calm rest I will bring

I know you will send me comfort, from the other side
I will wait and willingly, by your choice abide
In the trust, the love we shared, I'll search for you eyes
Someday soon, we'll meet anew, for nothing truly dies.


Cheeky Girl said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Our dogs are like children and it really hurts to lose one.

What you wrote about her having a good life and puppy adventures is something that will stay with you always. You loved her well and she knew it.

I'll be thinking of you today and wishing you happy memories of Susie.

Jackie said...

Emily just read your update that Susie is now at rest. Thank you for making the pain go away, she is now at peace and you made the right painful decision.
You will spend time missing her as hard not to when her absence right by your side is a very obvious thing when she is not there... Think of all the good things in the life of the little dog and all the good things she has brought to yours and when the tears come let them fall and they will help heal some of the sadness believe it or not they may even turn to laughter when the memory is particularly funny one.
Take care of your remaining furry friend and let them help you grieve while they lick your face in sympathy....
Best wishes for you and your family, Susie will be in your hearts forever and not in pain anymore....
Jackie B. Central Texas

EmilyBryan said...

Maureen--Thank you for sharing Archie's poem with me, even though it did make me cry again. I know you understand how I'm feeling today.

Nina--Thank you for your kind words and mentioning Dog Heaven to me. I can't give you chapter and verse, but if Jesus is supposed to come back riding a white horse, doesn't is stand to reason there will be dogs in heaven too?

Thanks, Cheeky. I tried not to think of Susie as my child (not to denigrate those who do). She was my friend and companion, an uncritical heart, a constant comfort. Already I have laughed at some memories because there are so many happy ones.

Susie was in a roll-over accident with my youngest daughter and when the pickup came to rest upside down, she darted out the window that had been blown out and ran 7 or 8 blocks back to where I was (running for help just like Lassie, they said in the paper write up about it.) My daughter was hanging upside down in her seatbelt and she says all she could think was "Mom's gonna kill me. I've lost her little dog!" My daughter and Susie were both unhurt. Thank God the only loss was the truck.

Jacki--I'm so glad you accidently found me today. I appreciate your words of sympathy and understanding. I'm sure Mack will help us through our grief. He's a natural clown and very loving.

Anna Carrasco Bowling said...

I'm sorry to hear the update. Having to say goodbye to our furry friends is real pain and real grief. Susie's love will always be with you, and I do believe that we'll see our pets in Heaven again.

EmilyBryan said...

Thank you Anna. I hope you're right. I'd love to hold her again.

Renee said...

Emily, I'm so sorry! (HUGS) We just went through this in the spring. I know how hard it is. They are so loving, so loyal and it's hard to let go. But you had many good years with her, and as you said she's at rest.

Again hugs,


Anonymous said...

It is so hard when our pets reach "that point". My DH is the person our 4 dogs adore. Our first one, a beagle, was about 16 when he had to take her to the vet. We knew it was necessary, but it killed him. Our lab is 13 now and failing. We didn't expect her to make it through last winter. She surprises us every day. She had a bad spell last week and we think she may have had convulsions. She is not in pain and except for her arthritis, the vet says she is OK. She is such a sweet dog. We are all dreading the time when that visit needs to be made. I could just cry thinking about it. I know it will tear my husband up when she goes. I keep praying she goes peacefully in her sleep, so he doesn't have to make the choice. Of the 4 we have now, she is the one we'll miss the most.
I hope your Susie does well. I'll be thinking of her and you. Think of how much better her life has been because you rescued her and how much richer your life has been because she has been in it.
(Our dogs have all been strays or pound puppies. We did foster care for the shelter for several years. Our lab is actually from the first litter we cared for.)

Just read down the comments and realized that Susie is at rest. Now I'm crying. Partly, I'm sure because I know we'll be in the same situation soon and I dread it. Our pets become such important members of our families. They love us no matter how bad we look, how successful we are, or how bad our day has been. I think you'll have a little Susie angel watching over you and keeping you company while you write.

My heart goes out to you. May the happy memories help heal the hurt.

JennJ said...

Oh Emily I'm often a lurker but I have to say that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your sweet Susie. It's devistating to loose a beloved pet and I hope that is not going to happen for you. BIG BIG HUGS and many well wishes.

EmilyBryan said...

Thank you, Renee. I appreciate your sympathy.

Pat--I know how hard it is to comtemplate losing those special pets. Susie had been sleeping a lot and very deeply lately. I too hoped we'd be spared the decision. My heart will be with you and your DH when that day comes for your lab. Bless your heart for having "found" pets. They are the best.

JennJ--Lurk anytime, my dear.

EmilyBryan said...

Thank you, Renee. I appreciate your sympathy.

Pat--I know how hard it is to comtemplate losing those special pets. Susie had been sleeping a lot and very deeply lately. I too hoped we'd be spared the decision. My heart will be with you and your DH when that day comes for your lab. Bless your heart for having "found" pets. They are the best.

JennJ--Lurk anytime, my dear.