Sunday, August 2, 2009

What a good dog.

It's funny how the loss of different family members, friends or pets affect us differently. Last Monday, the 27th, we had to have our good dog, Shane, put to sleep.

After our Penny horse died, it was so sudden and shocking and I wanted to blog about it immediately and just pour out my grief on the page. But with Shane, it has taken me almost a week and I've felt such grief about it, I almost felt like it was too sharp and private a pain to share it with anyone. I don't know why one is different than another. I don't think that one pain is greater, it's just that they're different.

And I've felt like I've explained Shane's illness so many times that I was kind of tired of talking about it. So I'm going to sum it up in a nutshell - mainly as a history for my own family.

A couple of months ago, Shane started getting sick and lost his appetite. I am very lucky to work at the best animal sanctuary in the world with a staff of 4 great vets and a clinic full of compassionate and skilled veterinary technicians. They ran tests on him for a week and finally decided to do exploratory surgery. The vet who did the surgery, Dr. Patti Iampietro, found a perforated intestine near his stomach (cause unknown). She repaired it and after a few days, we took him home. He didn't get better and had lots of vomiting and didn't want to eat much. After about 10 days of him going further downhill, Dr. Patti went back in, repaired some problems at the original surgery site and put in a stomach tube. I fed him via the tube for almost a week and he started to gain weight and feel much better. So much better, in fact, that he pulled his stomach tube out one night when I turned my back to him.

So we decided to start feeding him by mouth at this point and he steadily improved and got stronger until we were even able to put him back outside to live with his mother where he really wanted to be. We were very encouraged, we felt like we had our dog back.

And then suddenly one day he looked like an old man again and was staggering around and had a big swelling on his side and his tummy was extremely tender to the touch. I took him back to the clinic and they told me that he had probably herniated a portion of bowl and most definitely had major peritonitis. Our options were to try to do another surgery or euthanize him. We just couldn't put him through it again. He had been through too much already, and his chances of recovery were pretty poor. So we put him down at the clinic that evening. Marty left work early to be there with me and we took him home and buried him in the backyard.

We had a graveside memorial with the kids and we all cried for a long time. The kids told all the things they loved about him and how much they'll miss him. He was born in October of 1998 when Jaxon was only a few months old, which makes him almost 2 years older than Brynn and 5 years older than Luke. None of them ever remember him not being part of our family.

I'm sorry this is such a downer, but this was really one of the best dogs in the world, and it would be wrong not to mark his passing in some way. Here are some of the things we loved best about Shane:

  • He was super friendly to everyone he ever met. We always said, "He's never met a stranger".
  • He didn't bark - hardly ever! - but he did "talk" and "sing", which we loved. One of our mostest favoritest things was when we'd sing, "Who let the dogs out" and Shane would chime in and sing, "woo, woo, woo". We'll really miss that.
  • He grinned when he was really happy to meet someone. He especially did it when I would take him to work and all my lovely co-workers would make a big fuss over him when he arrived. He'd walk around the office wagging his whole back end and just grin and grin and grin.
  • He was exremely obedient. I love to walk with my dogs at night and ever since Shane was about 10 weeks old, he would walk with me - off leash - next to my left leg. It was so easy to teach this to him, he was just naturally an obedient dog. He would even stay next to me and mind me when another dog would run out at us, which is pretty amazing. When I had babies in strollers, he would walk next to the stroller and he never moved out of his spot. Several people asked me if he was tied to the stroller, they couldn't imagine such a good dog that would just stay there on his own.
  • He loved going on horse rides and would travel about 4 times as far as the horses did, in big loops around us. We never had to worry where he was, he always kept track of us and couldn't bear to be left home.
  • He was especially great with the kids, they could climb on him, lay on him, whatever. He was even nice to Ruby (our crazy puppy) and let her chew him bloody and never got after her - I often wished he would, but he was just too good natured.
  • and so many other things.
We sure appreciate all the hard work and compassion on the part of the vets and clinic staff.

We've been missing him so much. The kids talk about him constantly.
(photos taken 6.1.09)

What a good dog.


katie said...

I'm sorry Ann.

Alayna said...

Very well written and I can only imagine how difficult your situation must be. Although my parent had to euthanize their dog earlier this year, I have never lost a pet that was "mine" and know that it will be extremely difficult when that day comes. Shane seemed like such a sweet dog and an important member of your family. I know he lived a full life and sometimes the hardest decision is the kindest one.