Rescue Dog: Part 2

It’s been a while since I’ve been here.    I’m back now…

*waits for applause to die down*

I know, I’ve missed you too. Thank you, thank you very much.

There have been so many changes in my life since I last posted here.  I am not sure where to begin, but I know I have procrastinated long enough.  I have plenty of things to say, a plethora of questions (yes, I’ll be raising my hand!) and thoughts I’d like to share.  I’m on the fence about deleting a post or two because I want this to be an anger free zone.  There is far too much angry on the interwebs I really don’t want to be adding to it.

I guess I’ll begin by letting you know that Rescue dog is no longer with us.  We lost him last December to Lymphoma.  Our hearts broke – but I’d like to share our experience.

As you know, rescue dog was amazingly loving and loyal, learning his way to being more open and playful.  Well, let me tell you, he learned to catch!  He learned to FETCH!  He would only do it a few times, but hey, he did it.  He loved to swim!  For the purpose of clarity here, he loved to swim in heated swimming pools, but it was long runs on the beach.  The ocean was too cold and the surf to strong for his liking.  He adored the dog park…

He loved to swim — He owned the pool.

He loved to swim — He owned the pool.

We moved (you’ll get details on that later) to a beach city so he got to go the beach regularly.  His sister played in the water, he ran up and down the beach for all he was worth.  He ran and ran and ran.  As we were packing up to move, he seemed to get depressed and nervous.  We realized he was unsure of his future.  The last move he witnessed left him without a home, or better stated, in a new home (ours) but as things progressed and he realize he was staying with us, he was fine.  We stayed in temporary housing for three (LONG) weeks as our house was getting new floors and being painted.  The dogs went to the dog park three times a day! Wahoo!  They had a blast.  They Loved the new house.  Rescue dog was SO happy.  The new house is across the street from a park and he was now the self-appointed park police.  He got to decide when it was okay to walk by, which dogs were good boys/girls, what activities where acceptable and which were not.  Let me tell you, trying to convince him that this wasn’t his job became my full-time job.   Plus, there was always the chance there were zombies.  (Both he and his sister watched far too much television. They loved anything with dogs, cats and any/other animals and zombies.  Well rescue dog loved/hated zombies, his sister could not have cared less.

 

We should have never let him watch Zombieland.

So, we live on a corner across from a park – a lot of zombie potential.  He was always on alert.  Always.

Last October rescue dog just wasn’t himself.  I could not put my finger on an exact thing, but I told my husband that SOMETHING was wrong.  We made an appointment to see his veterinarian.  The staff there all loved him because we went in regularly for… uh… personal reasons, and pedicures (nail trims).  Rescue dog LOVED going to the Vet’s office.  No, seriously.  He would greet the staff, tail wagging, trot to the back like he was going to a steak house to get a t-bone.  (Weirdo, right? Best part of that was he taught his sister there was no reason to be afraid of going to the Vet!) So, we went in to see his Doctor and she listened, looked, and did all the normal things – poked and prodded. Because she knew us, because she knew we knew our dogs, she ran a multitude of tests.  A couple came back with abnormalities. That led to more tests, x rays, ultrasounds – discovery of very aggressive lymphoma, chemotherapy…. Chemo that didn’t even phase this lymphoma.  After the second treatment, the ultrasound showed that a segment of his intestine had begun to dissolve.

His internist, a wonderful woman, who took over for us when his oncologist could do nothing more for us, told us to take him home and enjoy what time we had left with him.  He was still walking, still eating, (not a lot, but some) and still loving us.  He was still on guard duty as much as he could be.

My deepest concern for him, knowing how deeply we loved him, was that I would not know when it was time to take him in for his last visit.  We tend to hold on to those we love far longer than we should for our sake, for selfish reasons.  I made that mistake with my beloved Akita and vowed never to do it again, but wasn’t sure I’d know when.

His internist told us “Choose his top three favorite things and when he no longer has any interest in those things, it’s time.”  She told us she’d learned it from another vet, but it was the best advice she could give.  I’ll never forget it and it made perfect sense.   Rescue Dog declined rapidly.  He lost interest in walks, not even a second glance at his leash. Sliced cheese wrappers didn’t get his attention, and if they did, he didn’t care (he also didn’t want the cheese). And when he no longer sang to his beloved insurance commercials, we knew it was time.

Saying goodbye is never, ever easy.  This goodbye was no different.  The card we got from our vet’s office a few days later was filled with personal notes, small stories of interactions, and warm condolences.  Our home was broken.  Our other dog was inconsolable.  It was difficult to even get her to eat some days.  She rarely moved from her favorite bed.  She’d never known a life without her brother.  I had not planned on bringing in another dog for a while, but after two weeks of that I had to do something.  We found a Golden Mix that needed rescuing (Now I may need rescuing — she’s a handful!) and we went and got her.  After about three days our Mastiff began to pull herself out of her depression, soon thereafter she stopped growling at the Golden, and now they’re best pals.

Kids.  *rolls eyes*

We had Rescue Dog aquamated and plan on putting the remains in with the roots of a young tree which we’ll plant in the foothills. We’ve lost a lot in our area to wildfires and this will be a way to give back to the land and honor him in the best way possible.

Our Rescue Dog is missed so much more than he or anyone would have ever thought.

And now? Now we have no one on zombie watch.

Rescue Dog

Who loves dogs?  Oh look!  I see a lot of people are raising their hands!  Excellent!  Me too!  See, I’m raising my hand, really high!

I have a service dog, she’s my second one.  Technically she’s still in training, but she’s awesome.  She is also ginormous.  She’s ginormous and drooly; drooly being the technical term.  The amount of drool can be bothersome in an “oh, we could fill an Olympic pool” sort of way, or she can be great and not drool, like when she’s sleeping.  But I digress; this isn’t about her, nor is it about my aged Pekingese.  This – this is about my fiercely (ironically poor choice of words) loyal rescue dog.  He’s an older Dalmatian/Lab mix who is… Oh, how do I say this?  Special!

I was meandering around Facebook one day and saw on a local pet page that someone was sharing photos of an older dog that needed a home or he was going to a kill shelter.  Well, I wasn’t going to have any part of that. Surely I could give this wonderful older dog a great home for the rest of his days.  Right? Right!  I made dates to meet him and make sure he wasn’t Cujo in a Dalmatian suit. I made another date so he could meet my other dogs. They got along great!  It all seemed so perfect.  I’ve got to say, if I’ve learned anything in my years on this planet it’s that if something seems too perfect, it probably is.  Be wary.  I wasn’t; I never am.

Moving forward, Rescue Dog moved in.  At first I thought he just needed time to assimilate.  Things at my house are different than what most dogs are accustomed to.  They have cushy orthopedic beds in nearly every room, a plethora of toys, raised food bowls, premium dog food supplemented with home-cooked food and nutrient rich bone broth.  They have their own door to come and go at their leisure.  Some will now shout things at me about “structure” and “rules” and “pack leaders” and “dirty animals” and a lot of other things that will upset me and make me say things like: “Stop gettin’ all up in my grill!” and “They have a ton of structure!” Things are done at specific times, there are rules to follow, and steps that must be taken in order for them to get things they want.  Back the hell off.  I don’t tell you how to raise your kids, don’t even begin… wait, right.  Dogs – yes.  I don’t tell you how to raise your dogs, don’t even…. Okay, I might.  But leave me alone, I raised my hand, you didn’t.

Back to Rescue Dog.  He didn’t know (and to this day does not) know how to play ball.  He has seen many dogs do it and watched them revel in the sheer joy of a game of fetch.  I have seen the look of utter dismay on his face.  If you throw the ball to him, he watches it go by.  If you roll it by him, he watches it roll by.  He’ll then cock his head sideways as he looks at you with his big brown questioning eyes and then turn and walk away.  For the longest time after he came to live with us he was a runner.  I’ve never lived with a runner before.  For those of you who are human runners, what in God’s name are you thinking?  And have some mercy on the people who live with you.  Again, back to Rescue dog.  He would wait for the front door to be open and unguarded and then bolt.

 

The first time this happened I was terrified!  I thought he was going to run like Forrest Gump and not stop.  I tried to go after him.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that THIS, this was his idea of fun.  Um, Dear Rescue Dog, this is not how you’re supposed to dog.  I mean, maybe…  Dogs actually do chase each other all over the place when they play, but –Nope. That whole running thing, it doesn’t work for me.  So, we quickly figured out I didn’t like that game and wouldn’t be playing it.  My poor neighbors.  I had to convince them not to ‘play’ either.  Bless them.  Once Rescue Dog learned that no one would play the “chase game” outside the front door he just stopped doing it.  The other solution, and perhaps more aptly stated, his reward is to take him to “run and run and run”.  Say those words and he will head straight to the garage door.  It means one of two things: he’s going for a bike ride with his Dad, or he’s going to the river to literally run and run and run.

Rescue dog apparently also hates cats.  I’m not sure if this is true or if one of the neighborhood’s feral cats is stalking him.  His version: “Bark Bark, Woof, Bark, Snarl, Bark”.  The version I hear sounds a lot like that but I don’t actually ever see a cat.  I hear a yowl, I hear a scramble, and when Rescue Dog comes racing in to tell me about it his nose is sliced up pretty bad.  Understand that none of the other dogs see or hear the cat. (Which is what led me to the stalking theory.)  Neither of them seem to care.  (To be fair, one of them is supposed to NOT care.) But Rescue dog is Always very excited, dancing around, and whining while I am trying to clean a scratched and bloody nose and calling the Vet’s office to let them know, just in case we need to come in.

Since he has been here he has also been our neighborhood’s version of that cranky old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn.  We have a local street-walker, a haggard looking Border Collie with a checkered past. She drives Rescue Dog to distraction.  He sees her and he bays like a bloodhound.  At first I thought he was looking for some action, but he’s (you know) fixed.  No, Rescue Dog is angry.  He will bay at the front windows.  If the front door is open, he will announce to the world that she is out hustling. If I am not nearby, he will find me in order to convince me it is imperative we warn the neighbors to hide away their puppies.  I know this is what he’s upset about because all I have to do is say her name.  “Yes, yes, okay, calm down honey.” I’ve finally gotten him convinced we’re not the dog police and we can’t arrest her.  Yes, we’ve talked about it.  That’s just how it works here.

Rescue Dog’s weirdest quirk? State Farm.  Yep, that’s right.  He has issues with them.  Apparently they aren’t’ trustworthy.  Or, knowing Rescue Dog as I do now, maybe he just has this huge concern that most people are terribly under-insured.  In all honesty he reacts the same to Farmers.  The commercials come on and even if Rescue dog is in a dead sleep he will wake up and become alert, he’ll listen for a moment and then howl the longest, most mournful howl you’ve ever heard.  If this happens while I am home alone it can be a bit unnerving.  Allstate, Geico, Nationwide and others are all fine; it is only Farmer’s and State Farm.

There is so much more, but that’s okay.  Rescue dog is super sweet, and he’s been with us a few years now.  He still ducks most of the time when I reach out to scratch his ears.  That part will forever make me sad.  The things that make our special, special Rescue Dog totally worth all of his weirdness is having him finally learn how to be excited when dogs should be excited.   It is seeing him realize that when he is really excited and his nose touches mine it is totally okay and no one is going to hurt him.  Maybe he’ll never play ball or tug-of-war.  But he’ll know love – lots and lots of love.