A Girl’s Best Friend

Yesterday, I got to thinking.

Deja vu all over again, 9 months later.

I may or may not have written a blog about my dog and how I was worried we would have to start the new year without him. Between Christmas and New Year’s last year, Dodger looked very unbalanced, unable to stand on his own two feet… excuse me, four feet. Expressions like that stick with you.

We thought it was a toss up between his legs giving out to arthiritis and Lyme disease.
I returned home from work, a complete mess when I got back in the house, under the assumption that they’d take him to the vet and he wouldn’t be there when I got back.

We were spared today’s tramuatic ending that day because it was nothing more than an ear infection that was causing a lack of balance, offing his equilibrium so to speak. A miracle pill reversed the effects and granted him another 9, almost 10 months with us.

I don’t know the official prognosis and right now, I really don’t want to know. But yesterday, the same symptoms returned, but they were a lot worse by the end of the day. He could not only not stand on his own, but couldn’t walk, in fact neglected to for the last several hours.

I went to bed last night keeping myself blissfully unaware of what was going to happen tomorrow. It was obvious he wasn’t coming back from this. Naturally, these things never hit you until you realize the truth. “He’s never coming back” or something along those lines.

Now, for the record, I’m not going to say that Dodger necessarily was Marley (i.e. of “Marley & Me” fame) when he was a puppy or his whole life from age 0-7 or 8. He wasn’t necessarily as bad a terror as Marley or caused nearly as much mayhem and damage. Although he was less than perfect.  No dog is perfect and if any owner says that, they’re lying.

For years, I’d wanted a dog. I wouldn’t go as far to say for a long time. When you think about it, from age 6 or 7 to 9… however long I wanted a dog, I can’t remember for the life of me, that really isn’t a long time to wait in agony.
Not nearly as agonizing as my wanting a cat my whole life. I’d given up on it while I’m under this roof, but I’m never going to stop striving for that until it happens. With everything that’s gone wrong lately, I’m pushing myself back another couple years. I’d love to finally fulfill that dream before I’m 30, not that there’s any significance to that age.
I swear, though, that I may be getting more middle-aged every day. Because I’m not with people my own age a lot of time, I feel like I’m older than I really am. I’d place myself maybe in my early 30’s right now, although I don’t look anywhere near that.

When I was 9, my aunt/godmother’s family was getting a lab and we were going with them to the breeder to see the puppies. Naturally, those wants for a dog came back and my sister & I were a wreck when we went outside. Any kid would want a dog and those that wouldn’t, I’d say were crazy. Being afraid is one thing, but just not having interest is another that I can’t understand. I only saw the movie once, but that brings me back to a scene in “Homeward Bound II” where Chance, Sassy and Shadow meet a dog who was a Christmas gift for a kid, and he was more interested in his toys than the dog. Therefore, the dog didn’t believe in people.

One thing led to another, obviously, so we ended up getting the brother of my aunt’s dog, Rusty.

The two spent nearly their entire lives apart after that aside from their first 6 weeks and one Christmas. They couldn’t have developed into more different dogs. For starters, Rusty had a problem with obsesity where he was ranging from 85-90 lb, which I’m guessing was a reason he departed a couple years ago. I don’t know how or why, but I just know that I came back from college one time and Rusty was no longer there. I never found out how he died.

Both had problems with obedience because we didn’t bother to properly train them, which was kind of a mistake, something we won’t want to do again… should we decide to get another puppy. I don’t know if that’s still in the cards. It certainly won’t be any time soon because a) we need to grieve and b) what’s the point in getting a puppy if we’re going to Australia in December. We can’t leave a new puppy alone for 6 days. Okay, he/she wouldn’t be alone, but he/she’d be without us. Talk about separation anxiety.

When we had the backyard with the fence, Dodger loved to chase squirrels and rabbits the moment we let him outside. He was somewhat of a terror on a leash, so we used a chock chain to help control him. It helped, but didn’t completely work.
There was maybe one time I tried to train him and it was after we bought a 2-video collection of a guy training dogs. Dodger hated crates, so we couldn’t start with the whole 2-3 hours of confinement before the training.
So I tried to walk him in a square in the backyard and he ended up walking me. The first time I tried to walk him, we were good up until a point he saw a rabbit and took off. Luckily my mom was tailing me in case that happened.

Interestingly enough, he liked to chase rabbits, but at one time, he lived in a house with two of me. I got mine that October and we got him in December. We didn’t usually have my rabbit out of the cage, so they got along a lot of the time for that reason.

In the beginning, it was hard for me to go back to school because I now had a dog to stay home with. Maybe once or twice, I wanted to stay home and got to because I claimed that I was too tired to go.

Several of my school abscenes over the years were because I didn’t feel like going to school. I thought I was coming down with something and made excuses for myself even though I didn’t have a fever. My mom’s a softie in that respect, not wanting to force either of us to do what we didn’t want to do.

It’s part of the reason my sister continues not to be employed. We’re working through an agency to help set her up with something, but the agency is very lazy. They don’t have their staff on task as much as they should.

I know its really bad of me to say this, but I’m looking at this turn of events as an excuse to stay out of the workforce a little bit longer. I started filling out an online application for PetsMart yesterday and that’ll be there when I’m ready to try again. Their questionaire is helping painting a better picture of me than what Borders had on their application, which was next to nothing in that area.

Of course, our best moment together was when I needed a little extra TLC. I’d been at home recuping after my scoliosis surgery and having a decent recovery. There was one night that sticks out for me more than the others. I was on the sofa in the family room that night. I guess because I wasn’t quite set to sleep in my own bed yet. So, it was maybe 2 a.m. in the middle of the night. I woke up with probably the most pain I’d been in since the week following the surgery. Excuriating is probably the best word for it.

Up until the last year or so, Dodger slept my parents’ room. They gave in after his first 2 nights when he was up whining and woke up the neighborhood. When the arthritis got really bad, he couldn’t go up the stairs anymore because he was terrified of walking down. He’d fallen over a couple times. The same was true for our basement and desk steps.
That night, he came downstairs and was hanging out with me until parental reinforcements came to give me a couple Tylenol. Dogs are sharp like that and that’s one of his sharper moments.

In the house I grew up in, we had a window seat in the family room and it was Dodger’s perch. He loved to come up there to see outside and when he rested against the edge of it, his head on one of the bookshelves my dad built, we said he was “doing wood.”

In our house, his favorite spot was either the circle rug in our foyer or the rug we have in front of our fireplace. He’d gotten into the odd habit lately of actually sitting on the brick of the fireplace, something I never understand… just as much as the way he licked the carpet, despite how many pillows and coasters we threw at him, he just wouldn’t stop.

As of late, his eyes started to cloud and excrete some kind of mucus. His eyes would also tear and I wiped it away so he couldn’t have tear marks etched in his fur the way it gets with smaller dogs where its neglected to the point, it gets permanetly etched into the long clumps of fur. We’ve also suspected his sight and hearing were degrading little by little.
One thing that started to occur a lot last year was spit-up on the carpet, which we had to scrub out with Resolve every time. Luckily we didn’t have a solid colored carpet and the flecks of color in it made it harder to see. The frequency of that came and went. Yesterday, the stress of us trying to move him back into the family room after he went outside proved to be too much and there went whatever amount of dinner that he had.
Something he’s picked up due to stress was leaving little presents on the carpet… once or twice, he did it at our neighbor’s house where we left him when we left weekend trips.

The carpet thing annoyed me to no end, but Dodger developed a habit of drinking vast amounts of water at once. The noise and frequency of it annoyed my dad to no end.

I don’t know necessarily how long this had been going on, but somewhere between the age of 9 and 10, Dodger started to take to a stuffed Winnie the Pooh like nothing we’d seen before. He would literally drag it around, scoffing and sniffing and would lay down to suck on its stomach for literally hours at a time.
The rest of the time, he was either sniffing outside, eating or drinking water. My dad likes to say that he sleeps 22 hours a day. Which I believe he did, a lot of sleeping.

All quirks aside, Dodger was probably the worst when we had people over. Up until he either got too old or just got used to it, whenever there was a knock on the door or something that sounded like it, he’d bark and run for the door… or back in the day, jump on the window seat, and off again and on again.
When people went inside, he jumped all over there with the excitement. Then after a while, when we lost interest in him, he’d bark for no apparent reason aside from the fact we weren’t paying attention to him. The best any of us could do was show him his bone or his Pooh and that would work for a little while.

Hilariously, when we moved into this new house and got a doorbell, the same thing happened again. But this time, it got to a point where he heard a doorbell on TV and he’d react to it as if it were real. He couldn’t do much more than sit, but he was a smart dog whether he showed it or not.

So on the edge of 15… something like 85 in dog years, Dodger left us to remember the best of times, the worst of times, the springs of hope and this autumn of despair. There’s nothing before us and everything is before us.

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One Response to A Girl’s Best Friend

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you. Thank you for posting this; it gave me an idea of what a special dog Dodger was.

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