Heart string dogs
A week ago, I was writing the first version of this story, when I was finished with it, I filed it and carried on with the next task. This week, I find myself having to rewrite it, not as the humorous piece I originally planned, but as an obituary instead.
Things can escalate pretty quickly but usually we are able to pull out some tricks from our sleeves and with the help of our vets’ fairy dust we sometimes manage to keep our dogs happy and comfortable for much longer than they were expected to live. Usually we get more time.
I planned to tell our readers about our little macho-man Humphrey. How he was diagnosed with a neurological disease two weeks ago and how the vet helped us with medicine to keep him comfortable and pain-free. He was what I’d call a heart string dog. We love all of our dogs but there are just those characters who stand out, and they crawl very deep into your heart. He was one of those rare dogs, and it might be an odd event, because Humphrey was everything but loving and cuddly. He shouted at me, very often, for no particular reason. He charged at me often, just because he felt like I was one cm too close to him for comfort. While he was charging at me I would call out his nick name. ‘Humpy!’ and he’d stop, look at me and if there was indeed a treat involved he would plonk himself right down into a sit to receive his treat. He was definitely more bark than bite, but even though he only had five teeth…I was not going to test him.
He was a moody boy, but I figure that anyone whose hindquarters do not want to follow the front and who keep falling over if you take a turn to quickly, would be really frustrated and moody. We got him on medication to calm down his grey matter and to help him take back control of his hindquarters, and during that time, Humpy was a happy chap. Well, as happy as he could be. He was just one of those dogs who we were not going to be able to change. I loved that about him, he was who he was and we just had to accept that. No amount of behavior modification would change him, and that was OK. We accommodated him, respected his needs and throughout his grumpiness he always managed to offer a little wiggle and a hop to say ‘Hello my friend! Did you bring me a treat?’
We were all really happy that his medication was working, until exactly a week later when his body just said ‘No more.’ He started to loose feeling in his left leg, then his hindquarters went lame. He could not get himself up and he shouted at us for trying to help him. He was shivering and uncomfortable, we had to let him go. We knew it was coming, but we thought we had the fairy dust and so we had more time.
It bothers a lot shelter workers, when a dog passes away without having had the chance to be in a home. I find a bit of comfort in it that Dogtown was the best, most understanding home he would have ever had. His caregivers loved him, and he probably would not have admitted it, but I think he really loved us too. Some dogs can not be re-homed, that is why they are with us for life.
Our job is to make sure that they do not feel like they are in a prison, hung out dry. They become a part of our family and we create a home for them. And just like when you lose a friend, you lose a little piece of your heart when they step over the rainbow bridge. Run free Humphrey, and send my love to Alice.
By Tersha, Trainer