Remembering Dottie

DottieWay back in 1999 I was going through a rough time. My husband and I separated and I was living in our big house in Pewaukee, Wisconsin by myself. I decided I was going to get a dog to keep me company. As a fan of the PBS show “Wishbone,” about the ventures of a cute Jack Russell terrier, I decided that is the breed I wanted. I found a classified ad in the Milwaukee Journal Star for Jack Russell terrier puppies. I went and looked.

It was a rundown house in a bad area of Milwaukee, but the puppies were cute. Both Jack Russell parents lived there, and they had four puppies to choose from. I chose one of the females, a little cute thing with a black dot on her head. The owners named her Dottie. At first I didn’t like the name, but I changed my mind and decided it was a good fit.

Dottie was a naughty puppy. I put her in a crate while I went to work and she hated that. During her entire life she couldn’t stand being crated. Once while flying home to visit family in Lincoln I decided to take Dottie with me on the plane. I was able to bring her on board in a pet carrier but she bit her way through it. I spent the entire plane ride trying to hold her head in the carrier through the opening she ripped though.

While living alone in the Pewaukee house, Dottie was pretty much a lifesaver for me. She kept me company. She gave me a reason to smile. When I decided to move back to Lincoln, Dottie and my new puppy Russell came with me. Dottie was constantly by my side wherever I went in our house.

Dottie was always healthy and strong, and I thought if any dog were to live to 18, it would be her. She was like a little athlete, and was crazy about her Frisbee. She carried it around, she slept with it, and loved chasing after it.

In the last year or two Dottie gave up her Frisbee obsession and started to slow down some. This last weekend she started vomiting and stopped eating. I took her to the vet on Monday and she underwent blood tests. The vet’s office called Monday afternoon to say her red blood cell levels were dangerously low and her kidneys were failing. The vet recommended putting her down right away. I thought about it. I asked to see Dottie.

When I saw Dottie up walking around, I decided to take her home. I took her to another vet the next day to get a second opinion. He told me there was some hope for Dottie, and I was encouraged. The plan was to put Dottie on 24 hours of IV fluids. He said that often can perk dogs up The process started at this vet clinic. Then I transported her the the Lincoln emergency vet, which is open all night, so she wouldn’t be alone. By the minute, though, it was clear Dottie was losing strength.

This morning the plan was to pick Dottie up from the emergency vet and take her back to the other vet to continue her fluids. However she was completely lethargic — the life in her was all but gone. The vet put her on the table and Dottie and I locked eyes. The vet said nothing more could be done for her. She was not going to get better. She could not walk. She could not lift her head. I made the only decision I could make and told the doctor to proceed with the euthanization. In a matter of seconds Dottie — my little shadow and my baby — was gone.

Dottie was always there for me no matter what. If I was sad, Dottie could make me happy. She always wanted to be with me. My mother said she was probably the most loyal dog anyone could ever have and my mother was right.

Farewell Dottie my love. I will never forget what you meant to me and how you rescued me during one of the most difficult periods of my life. I will miss you more than anyone will ever know.

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An unexpected loss

I stopped by my vet’s office to pick up some medicine for my dog today. There was a car parked right in front of the office, not in a parking space but in the driveway where cars pass by. You had to drive around the car to get through. I thought it odd someone would park this way.

I parked and went inside. As I was coming in the door a distraught woman was coming out and got in the car. I asked the receptionist why this woman parked in such a way. The receptionist said the woman brought in an unresponsive cat. She drove to the nearest vet clinic, pulled in front and without bothering to park in a stall, an inside with her cat.

The woman came back in after parking her car properly, tears in her eyes. I asked her what happened. She said she came home and found her cat having a seizure. The cat was named Oly. I didn’t get any more information from her because a clinic worker asked her to come into one of the rooms. The receptionist told me the woman’s cat was slumped over and appeared to be almost lifeless. The woman kept saying her cat was a healthy pet.

A worker went into the room with the woman, who asked if her cat had died. I couldn’t hear much but I did hear the worker say yes. I could hear the woman crying as I left.

I felt so bad driving home. I knew there was nothing I could do but I kept thinking about this poor woman and her cat. How horrifying it would be to leave your healthy cat at home and return a few hours later to find the cat near death, without any explanation.

It made me think that we can never take anything for granted, including the health of our pets. I came home and gave an extra hug to my dogs, knowing that such a thing could happen to any of us.

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A four-day friend

photo (7)It’s remarkable how one can grow attached to a pet in a few short days. Tony and I thought we had a new pet, and we were growing to love her, but it wasn’t to be.

It started on Tuesday, April 16. I was driving to a client’s house along a country road and saw a small black dog all alone. She was all black except for a patch of white on her chest. She was short and stocky with long curly hair.

I stopped the car. I was torn. I never like seeing a dog alone, seemingly lost, but this was the country. I figured she must live at one of the area’s acreages. I drove away. Watching in my rearview mirror, I saw this dog running down the middle of the road toward me. Maybe she had been dumped in the country. You always hear stories of that happening. If she lived in one of the nearby homes she was running away from it. Thinking she probably had been dumped, I stopped, petted her, put her in my car and drove to my client’s house. On the way back home I stopped at a few of the neighboring houses. No one was home at any of them so I left notes.

Not one to be stuck in the back of a car, this dog made her way to the front and sat right next to me. On the way home I realized what I thought were warts on her actually were ticks that had become engorged with her blood. I took her to a vet to have the ticks removed and get some tick prevention. I found out she was unspayed and in heat. I brought her home, put her in my back yard and called Tony to prepare him to find a new dog at home.

Tony didn’t want to get a new dog yet. I had wanted to after the death of our Dalmation Daisy last summer, but Tony thought a new dog would pick up the bad habits of our two Jack Russell terriers, Dottie and Russell. He wanted to wait till both dogs, ages 13, were gone.

So it was pretty much by accident that we once again became a three-dog family, at least temporarily. The small black dog was amazingly quiet and calm, quite unlike Dottie and Russell. After spending the first couple hours outside, we brought her in. Surprisingly, the Jack Russells tolerated her just fine.

What a nice dog she was. We started calling her Pepper because a tech at the vet’s office when he saw her asked if it was Pepper. I liked the name. She seemed to crave attention, creeping up to us for pets. Other times she walked to an area of the house and plopped down on the hard floor, seeming very content.

No one had called to claim her, so we talked about taking her to a vet for shots and spaying. We talked about buying her a collar. We took her to Petco and gave her a good bath. Her course fur became soft. We took her home and combed and brushed her coat. We took her for walks.

Tony felt, however, that we should go back to where we found her just to make sure there was no family looking for her. We found a man who pointed out a house, saying he thought she lived there. We knocked on the door but no one was home. We left a note in the mailbox with my phone number. Later in the day my phone rang and I was worried it might be her owner. It wasn’t. I was relieved. I went about my day and had left my phone in another room. When I went to check it there was the voicemail I didn’t want to get. A man said he had lost his dog and had been looking for her most the week. He described Pepper to a tee. He wanted to come and get her. I offered that if he didn’t want her we would be happy to keep her. He said she was her daughter’s dog and they wanted her back. Reluctantly, I gave him directions to my house. He said he would come right away.

Tony and I sat down by Pepper. I started to cry, realizing that she wouldn’t be a part of our family after all. We had to usher at church Saturday night. I thought about staying and greeting the owner but felt it would be too difficult. Tony and I left for church, leaving the job of giving Pepper to her owner to my mother.

As I sat at church crying, my mother called and said the young man had picked her up. She said Pepper seemed excited to see him. The man said he thought his pet, named Cara, had probably been killed. He had told me she is an outside dog and runs around the area on her own.

I personally think Pepper would have had a better life with us. She would have been an inside dog. She probably slept in a dog bed in a real bedroom for the first time in her life. But she is back with her own family, back to being an outside dog. Bye Pepper. We will miss you. Please be happy and safe.

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The letter

Today I went to a forum scheduled in Lincoln organized by a group called Joining Forces Saving Lives. This group was started by a Lincoln woman who simply felt that there is a need to save more dogs from death. It’s a cause I greatly believe in.

I listened to the keynote speaker, a man who is head of a no-kill animal shelter in San Diego. He had some very thought-provoking things to say. Something he didn’t say left me the most affected.

What he didn’t say were the words in a letter he had received from a man in North Carolina. This speaker didn’t read the letter. Instead he called the head of Nebraska No-Kill Canine Rescue up to read the letter. I’m not sure why.

Prior to this letter being read, the speaker, Mike Arms, talked about the killing of innocent dogs and cats in shelters around the nation. He mentioned that in North Carolina and a few other states, they kill animals by putting them in gas chambers.

Back to the letter. The North Carolina man who wrote it had a job probably nobody wants. He runs the gas chamber that kills animals in the shelter. The writer said it is a decent living but he didn’t like the job. It was a bad job, he said. So bad that he knows he is going to hell because of it.

The gasings were done every Friday morning. Most workers look forward to Fridays, but not him. He had to do the unthinkable — kill perfectly healthy, innocent dogs. Every Thursday night before the gasings, he and a friend bought $50 worth of hamburgers and chicken sandwiches from a local fast food restaurant. They went to the shelter late at night after it was closed to feed the doomed dogs because the bosses wouldn’t let him do it had they known. Feeding the dogs before they are gassed can leave the chamber too messy, the letter said. The shelter worker just wanted to give one last moment of happiness.

In darkness, they snuck into the place where the animals were caged. They let them out of the cages. None of the dogs were mean. They were happy to be let out and happy to get some hamburgers. They ate with joy, enjoyed pets and wagged their tails.

At that point the Lincoln rescue worker reading the letter broke down in tears and couldn’t read anymore. The keynote speaker told him he could stop and the rest of the letter went unread. So I guess I could say I don’t know what happened next, but unfortunately come Friday morning everybody hearing the letter knew what would happen.

I came home to my two dogs and hugged them and took them for a walk. It’s too bad that all dogs don’t have such luck.


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A few things I will remember about Daisy

Here are just a few things I will remember about Daisy:

Her one blue eye and one brown eye. Very striking.

Her long wagging tail. How she loved to wag it. One time so hard that she cut it on something and spewed blood around the house.

She would lay her head on your lap as you sat.

She loved going to the dog park and she loved jumping in the water – many times right before we were to get back into the car and I was hoping for a dry dog.

She loved to run around the back yard and jump off the retaining wall. We worried she would get hurt but she never did.

She loved to run after a ball or Frisbee when we threw it, but she wasn’t a very good catch.

Her eyes lit up whenever I would grab a bag of rawhides or Greenees.

She loved to lie on the couch with Tony while he watched TV. She would jump right up on her own until the end, when she could no longer jump.

She would follow us wherever we went around the house, just like our shadow.

She would gently groan during the night as we were falling asleep, and Tony would always say she was talking.

She rode in the back of Tony’s pickup truck, fastened to a chain so she wouldn’t fall out. She loved putting her paws on the cab and looking out so the wind was in her face.

She wore a Husker collar every time Nebraska played football.

Her fur became very soft after a bath.

On a vacation in Colorado, she loved to play in the stream and jump across the water. We have a great shot of her in mid-air jumping across the stream. It is one of my favorite photos.

She caught a rabbit once and brought it in the house, dropping it dead on the living room floor. She was very proud.

As we were out and about, kids who saw her would shout “Dalmation!” and want to run and pet her.

We loved her very much but Tony says she loved us even more.

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Mourning the loss of our beautiful Dalmation

Our hearts are heavy tonight as we mourn the loss of Daisy, our beloved Dalmation. Daisy spent her last night on this earth at the vet’s office hooked up to an IV machine. Our hope was that the hydration would flush out her system and she would feel better.

When we called the vet’s office this morning she told us that Daisy had gotten worse. She had no interest in food, was having trouble standing and was very low energy. An x-ray showed a baseball sized mass in her stomach.

Daisy had a lot going wrong with her. In addition to the stomach mass, which was most likely cancer, her liver was failing. She was losing strength in her back legs and had difficulty standing. In her final days we had trouble getting her to eat. I suppose with a baseball size mass in your stomach, no one would be real hungry.

I was hoping that we could keep Daisy around for as long as possible. After her diagnoses a year and a half ago with cirrhosis of the liver, she bounced back amazingly. Our vet even called her a miracle dog. As late as June 20, when she was at her last vet appointment for her annual checkup, the vet could not believe how well she was doing when all the diagnostic numbers showed her liver was in failure.

When her back legs started giving out on her, we were encouraged to walk her to build up strength. We went on short walks but Daisy would tire quickly.

Tony and I began to realize in recent weeks that we might have to soon make a decision on euthanization. Tony didn’t want her to deteriorate to the point where she couldn’t do anything. I didn’t want to put her to sleep when I still saw excitement in her eyes and her tail wagged.

But a few days ago when she stopped eating I had to face the inevitable. I called the vet and we took her in Thursday morning. We went to the vet’s office this morning, where Daisy was laying on a floor with a blanket over her. She looked at us and her tail wagged. We layed down beside her talked to her. Tony reminded her of all the happy times he had with her. He said a prayer in her ear, thanking God for bringing her into our lives.

We asked the vet to give her a sedative beforehand. A few minutes after the sedative was injected into her IV, she laid her head down on her paws stretched out in front of her. She stared ahead and it appeared that life was slowly seeping from her. The vet soon came and gave her the final shot. There was no reaction whatsoever and no movement in her body. The only difference was that she was no longer breathing.

We still have our two smaller dogs. I don’t know if they have noticed that Daisy isn’t around. Dottie and Daisy didn’t get along too well, so maybe Dottie is happy not to see Daisy. But I think they probably are wondering where she is.

So now the task is to put away Daisy’s things. I picked up her dog bowl today to wash for the last time and felt a lump in my throat. I look at her last can of dog food and wonder what to do with it. She still has several month’s worth of heartworm and flee and tick preventative. Her dog bed remains beside our bed, I’m sure soon to be picked and and put away.

Already our household seems incomplete. It’s strange. I keep imagining that Daisy will walk into the room at any time. But it’s not to be. Daisy is gone from hour household but will remain in our hearts.

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Our Dalmation Daisy isn’t doing so well. Currently she is at the vet’s office on an IV giving her fluids. The vet is trying to flush out her system.

Daisy had been doing OK despite her diagnosis of cirhossis of the liver and liver failure. In the past few days however she not been eating well. She doesn’t want her dog food, even the homemade chicken and rice I made to entice her to eat. She does show interest in our people food. Last night I made her scrambled eggs and she ate that.

However hours after eating she has vomited up her food. Last night she vomited twice during the night.

I’m not sure how flushing out her system will help, but we will see. I’ll keep you posted.

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