Keeping it Real
We've experienced our own encounters with trauma of pet loss. Our 12 year old Border Collie, Dixie took us on a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs trying to diagnose a mysterious problem of lameness. We agonized as we watched this independent stoic spirit struggle to stand when she couldn't. We had to come to terms with the fact that we were losing her. We couldn't prolong her suffering if there could be no reasonably good outcome. Each day we carried that deep anguish in the pit of our stomachs. When and how would we make the right decision?
This experience surely heightened our awareness of the pain each of our customers may be feeling. So now, as we prepare our shipments, there is a a deepened sensitivity to the reality of why we are here and what we hope to provide to others who are coping with pet loss.
Dixie eventually won that battle and recovered... however there was more. She was hypercalcemic. It was being caused by a parathyroid tumor. She had surgery to remove the tumor and careful follow up of her blood calcium. Again she recovered and we are so grateful every day to look into her bright eyes.
BUT... even though Dixie had an eventful year, she was doing just great. Shortly after her recovery from the tumor surgery she had a frightening pancreatitis attack. She had to be hospitalized and treated with IV fluids for several days. She recovered but required a very strict diet. It's wonderful to have her feeling good again... perky, happy and always ravenous.
Living with Loss
After several good months, Dixie was diagnosed with a mass in her liver, and our vet estimated she had about 6 months left. She did really well, with no obvious symptoms. She passed the 6 months and we felt we'd dodged yet another bullet.
In the meantime, cold reality slapped us in the face. Over a July weekend we've been thrust into a time warp of life and death. Unexpectedly on a Saturday, we lost Harry, our beautiful German Shepherd. Though he was an old man who had his issues, we just assumed he would out live Dixie... given all her problems. It was not to be and we miss him so much.
He had such a big presence in our lives (besides his size)... a hugger, a lover, a wus, needy and kind and with a special bond to Michael. Inseparable, they were.
In the fall, Dixie's regular exam turned up an anal sac tumor which had advanced somewhat. We agreed with our vet that no treatment was viable for her at 13 so we decided to make every day her best as long as we could. She did mostly fine through the winter. She made the post office run with me each day... making a stop in the park for a short walk to catch up on smells. She enjoyed the outing and willingly put up with being lifted in and out of the Jeep. Finally in late April, life just seemed too hard for her and, with heavy hearts, we decided to say good bye... now, both Harry and Dixie are waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge.
The emptiness, with no dogs in the house, was unimaginable. We thought there might be a way to distract us from our sadness without making a commitment. We had lost our two dogs within 6 months. We weren't ready to consider another dog but Oregon Dog Rescue had a fostering program we thought we would try. After all, we had a nice fenced yard we could offer a homeless pooch until it found its forever home.
All we had to do was to show up that weekend at the adoption event and take home one of the unlucky dogs still waiting. There was one big black lab, Ziggy, we were prepared to foster... but, when we arrived, Ziggy had been adopted. So next up was a flighty yellow lab mix who was being considered for adoption by another couple. At that moment, it didn't make any difference to us... but it would for the dog. The couple decided to wait and think about it. So, the anxious yellow lab named Jibby was going home with us for the week until the next adoption event.
When Jibby jumped into the Jeep and sat right beside Michael, he knew what he was doing...and it didn't take long. The ride home was smooth.
With one look at the yard and one evening on the couch with Michael, the deal was done. In about 24 hours we had flunked out of foster parenting. And the word around the house was... "well, we're not taking him back". But the name Jibby seemed silly for this 4 year old so we morphed it to Jimmy.
Skip ahead... Jimmy just turned 10 and has been a wonderful addition to our family. He's had his issues and so different from our previous dogs... but so wonderful just the same.
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