Sunday, March 25, 2012

A good dog

Thanks for accompanying me on this journey back in time. As our "14 Years in 14 Days" series comes to a close, I realize I still have a million stories to tell about my handsome boy, Beau. But I've had fun reminiscing with you. Maybe we'll do it again sometime. In the meantime, here's a few last words...

As I've mentioned previously, Beau kept me busy in the health department. Starting with ACL surgery before he was 2, he was in the vet's office so often, most of the staff knew me by my voice alone over the phone and absolutely all adored Beau for his good nature and gentle demeanor even when he wasn't feeling his best.

Things started to get more serious though, when he had his first grand mal seizure in 1996 shortly after I moved to New Hampshire.

Seizures are a great leveler. My big, bold boy who always stood ready to protect his family suddenly became a needful pup again writhing helplessly in my arms. But we were lucky and his epilepsy was mild. While the seizures were not, they only happened once every 3 months for most of his life and we opted not to put him on medication.

He finally went on phenobarbital when he was 10 and the seizures had started to cluster. It worked like a charm. After a short period of adjustment and ataxia, he never had another seizure in all his remaining days.

We had a cancer scare around the same time which was removed and found to be malignant but non-metastatic (non-spreading). We had frantic rides to emergency clinics due to bee stings and "broken" tails. And there were certainly plenty of bloody noses, abscesses, ear infections and upset tummies. Beau even "lost his marbles" once (canine vestibular disease), which proved harmless and actually somewhat entertaining as he stumbled around looking for all the world like a drunken sailor.

The biggest scare he gave us, however, and one that comes with a story about the magnificent empathy of dogs, is when he developed pneumonia from the laryngeal paralysis we didn't know he had.

One morning while I was working from home, Beau began having trouble breathing and started spewing up a white foamy liquid. I called the vet and then Jan who rushed home to help bring Beau in for an emergency appointment where we were given 3 devastating options: take Beau home and watch him die slowly over the next few hours, allow them to put him down right then and there in the office, or try to get him to Tufts Emergency Animal Hospital 30 minutes away and see if they could do anything for him. We opted for a white-knuckled ride down Rte. 495 and through some sleepy New England towns to Tufts.

When we arrived, we witnessed an amazing scene as technicians and orderlies moved our now 95-pound dog from the back of my car onto an awaiting gurney and rushed him in to the facility complete with crashing doors and doctors shouting orders. I could only stand in the middle of the waiting room watching Beau watch me as they wheeled him away.

When the doors slammed shut behind him, I finally lost it.

There in the middle of a waiting room full of clients, staff and pets, I buried my head in my arms and fell apart crying right there in front of everybody. It only took a moment for me to realize I was making everyone uncomfortable as they began to study the floor and shuffle their feet or rummage through their bags. I took a seat in the corner hoping to make less of a spectacle of myself.

As I sat there sniffling, the most extraordinary thing happened: the biggest Rottweiler I have ever seen (at 160+ lbs, he was both big and overweight) did something none of the humans in the room found themselves able to do, he acknowledged my grief.

Obviously not feeling well himself, he slowly stood and crossed the room to come stand in front of me. And then he gently laid his head on my lap.

I laid my head on his, stroking his ears and we remained like that for several minutes. I don't know if the room really did fall into a hush but my little corner of the world did. I will forever remain in awe of Moose, a stranger's dog who offered me comfort in one of my darkest hours.

Beau came back home to us 8 days later after life-saving surgery and was with us for just over another year. We helped him cross over to The Bridge on May 18th, 2008. After a traumatic morning, he passed quietly in my arms in his favorite spot on the front lawn over-looking all his domain. He lived a long and wonderful life immersed in love and was a joy to all who knew him. He will be ever missed.



A dog's time with us is all too short.

Beau taught me, in both his life and death, to pay attention, to see and remember life as it spins too quickly by. To appreciate those who are with you now and recall fondly those who are no longer. To take lots of pictures, give innumerable hugs, to play with your dog and never give up on the ones you love.

Beau was a good dog.







37 comments:

  1. You made me cry. What a beautiful post. I can't even imagine how hard all of that was for you; if Nola so much as whimpers I'm in a panic as to what's wrong
    Dachshund Nola's Mommy

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  2. Georgia Little PeaMarch 25, 2012 at 7:42 PM

    Thanks for making me bawl. On this day of all days, I really needed to clean out. You have such a way of writing about your dogs, I feel I know them. I'm a little surprised at the reaction of the other people at the vet's though. Being there with sick pets themselves, I would have thought they'd be more compassionate. Thank goodness for Moose.

    Hugs from across the big pond x

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  3. That was a beautiful moving post.

    BrownDog's Human

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  4. What's a few tears on a Sunday evening?
    Touching story - well written, too!  It's sad, but also nice to read about your time with Beau.

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  5. So beautiful!!  I loved that last picture.

    ~Higgins

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  6. I find myself writing another comment through tears.  Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Thanks Nola's Mom,

    Luckily with Beau, I was too young and foolish to believe in mortality (either his or mine) and he had a grand life because of it.  Poor Bella suffers from the fact that I now know how much can go wrong and she is never allowed out of my sight. ;) 

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  8. I'm so sorry, I think.  I just read your post and know how it feels to somehow be on the verge of tears without ever understanding the reason.  I do think sometimes we just need to let it out...

    I think the phenomenon in the waiting room was kind of a group thing - no one knew what to do, what to say, and everyone was hoping someone else did.  I'm glad Moose knew. ;)

    Thanks for the nice words.  I hope you're feeling better today.

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  9. Thanks, "Hawk's Human". :]  I hope it didn't hit too close to home...

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  10. Sorry about that...  

    I really tried not to make it too sad... I just really, really, really wanted to tell that Moose story and didn't know how else to get to it.

    Unfortunately, all dog stories end too soon...

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  11. Thanks Higgins.  That's one of my favorites, too.  (It was taken by the young girl who I wrote about Beau protecting in an earlier post when we went backpacking in Maine. :)

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  12. Thank you so much for sharing Beau's story! It couldn't have been easy re-living all of the memories but I hope it was helpful for you as well. Beau was a very special dog and now he will get to live on in all our memories as well.

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  13. Thanks Kristine.  You know, it wasn't as difficult to write as I thought it would be. Of course, you may notice that I didn't actually detail the events of the day I let him go... ;)

    I've discovered over time that my memories of his life are filled with joy and appreciation for having had him with me. Not to sound too cliche but time does heal wounds...

    Thank you for saying he will live on in your memories now as well. That is very kind. He deserves to be remembered.

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  14. I have so enjoyed getting to know Beau. And yes, you made me cry too. 

    Nothing makes that hard trip to the hospital with Beau a good thing. But I loved hearing about Moose comforting you. Sometimes dogs really do know best.

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  15. this was breathtakingly beautiful but so sad....thank you for sharing your love and your memories so eloquently

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  16. Beau was certainly special. I've loved all your stories...yes, even the ones that made me cry. 

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  17. A yellow lab will live in your heart forever. Great memories thank you for sharing.

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  18. Such a beautiful post - the tissues are out here….. :)

    Wags to all,

    Your pal Snoopy :) 

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  19. I hope you do keep sharing stories of Beau.  I found peace and comfort through your time with him knowing that I too have walked a few of your steps with past poochies.  When you wrote of being in the middle of the waiting room crying and of only that beautiful dog coming to give you comfort, well first I can't believe that folks would be so unsympathetic.  To have a poochie come to you speaks volumes of the compassion of dogs.

    Our pets touch our hearts is so many ways.  There charming way of how they look at us and how they view the world they are in, the friends they make with other furfamily or poochie on the street...truly wonderful creatures poochies are. 

    I'm looking forward to hearing more...I need to go back and catch up on reading as I seem to be forever behind these days.

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  20. A beautiful post, as everyone has said. The story about the kind dog who comforted you when Beau was sick was especially sweet. Our pups really are amazing creatures, aren't they?

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  21. What a beautiful, beautiful tribute.  I love the Rottie.  Animals and children, they know no boundaries. :-)  I'm sorry your boy is gone but I know he's waiting for you.

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  22. Thanks, Pamela, Beau was full of good stories but that Rottweiler deserved his own place in 'history', too.  :)

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  23. Thanks, caren. I probably shouldn't 'wax poetic' so often lest I scare away my audience. ;) It was sad when it happened but Beau left me with wonderful memories. I am happy to share and grateful to all who 'listened'.

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  24. Thanks for that. I'll try not to make anybody cry for a while. ;)

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  25. Thanks for reading.  And very true, they are very special dogs.

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  26. Sorry, Snoopy. I think it just comes naturally to us hu-folk when we think about losing our canine pals.

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  27. Thanks Ellen, I'm sure these stories have rung their own bells with all of us who have shared our lives with dogs. Each is so different and worms their way into our hearts in their own unique way, they could be the worst dog in the world and still inspire such admiration. (Marley, anyone?)

    Oh and, ftr, I've decided I am just going to live in a constant state of "behind" for the rest of my life. I'm learning to try and roll with it... ;)

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  28. Thanks AJ, they are something else, aren't they?

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  29. Thank you, Jodi. I think animals and children just live closer to their hearts than we adults do.  It's a shame we lose that really.  

    (And yes, I believe in Rainbow Bridge. :)

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  30. I so know how you feel about Beau; I guess lots of us out here do. You write about him beautifully x

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  31. I think that might be why everyone is saying their eyes leaked: we've all been there, many of us have our own Beaus...   

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  32.         This was a wonderful series.  You have a new follower!  And might we just add, we are so proud that one of our rottie brothers did one of the things that we do best - provided comfort in your time of need.  We pride ourselves on this sort of behavior!!

    -Bart and Ruby                                                     

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  33. Thanks for the follow, Lisa (and Bart and Ruby).  I have always adored Rotties and this story elevated their status in my mind as particular angels.  I just love you big lugs. :)

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  34. This was such a sweet story. I definitely teared up. Beau sounds like he was an awesome dog. And that rottie--wow!

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  35. Thanks.  We had a good time together. And yeah, that Rottie, huh?  Amazing.  And FTR, absolutely true - not embellished.  :)

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  36. What a beautiful tribute. I have tears in my eyes. And how wonderful about Moose the Rottie coming to comfort you in your time of need. Dogs are just amazing.

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