Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My Beloved Shadow (1992/1994-2007)

I had to say goodbye to my beloved little Shadow this morning. In hindsight, I realize Shadow's vet was preparing me for this. His heart was not doing well and we both expected him to have a heart attack. Also, in hindsight, I realize how Shadow has become an old dog and was showing his age. Poodles his size live to be about 15 and we think he was almost 2 when I rescued him. He's had a good life and everything was deteriorating at once. I took him to the farm on Monday evening and realized Tuesday how he just wasn't interacting with his environment at all - primarily because he was having trouble standing. He usually goes nuts with all the smells at the farm. A few weeks ago, he wondered around but stayed close and this time, I had to carry him out to his usual "spots".

I called the vet yesterday morning and he said that he had worked all the medical magic he could. He was on heart medicine and arthritis medicine but was getting beyond that. I did start feeding him chicken and rice since the newness of his kidney-specific Science Diet had worn out. Yesterday, Doc said all I could do was make him comfortable. And I did all I could. I held him most of the night on Monday and he was wanting to cuddle most of the night - something he hasn't done in awhile. And he didn't want me to stop rubbing his tummy.

I brought him into town last night so that we would have one last night here - of course at about 2am I thought I should have taken him in yesterday. I hate that I was gone to Chicago for a conference but I didn't really think he was this close to the end. But, there's nothing I can do about that now. I have lots of trips coming up and Monday was struggling with how I would cancel them given the doors they are opening for me for future opportunities.

However, Doc did great at telling me not to feel guilty and luckily most of my friends are doglovers. When I'm in DC next week, my friend Cary will also be there and we can go to dinner so that I will have some things to keep my mind occupied instead of a lonely hotel room. I will also be very engaged in the actual meeting and that will help.

I know it will hit me when I least expect. I have lots of clean-up of pet amenities at both places but I did not want to do that with Shadow right there nor could I have handled it yesterday. Between yesterday through this morning, I had torn my stomach up and done enough crying that I think I knew what was inevitable. Of course, this morning he was a bit more chipper and even rubbed his muzzle around on the dining room floor after he ate - something he hasn't done in weeks.

Again, thanks to Dr. Peterson, I know I did what was best and there was no better way to handle it. I'll wait to get another one so that I don't try to replace him - the same advice he gave me when I lost Sadie Bess in May of 1994 right after moving to Pittsburg. I knew Shadow as my right next dog and I'll know the next right one although I will try for a female.

As I look back, I realize all the things I hadn't been doing. The 30-40 minute morning walks we could no longer take - esp. with the fall leaves - has also taken its toll on me and I need to get that started again to keep my osteopenia in check. I didn't ride my bike. I was taking him everywhere I could and just not leaving him except for work or when it was too hot to be in the car - and it was in the 80s until it was in the high 70s yesterday.

Today the storm front came in and we have a high of 40 - which we also knew would be hard on Shadow. And I already knew he was too frail to play in the snow or ride the 4wheeler at the farm.

He was a tough little guy and he will always be a part of me. I could never have bought the farm and built the farmhouse without him. My friend in Minnesota's dog has a small cancer spot and Shadow is now in a better place to keep an eye out for Freddie.

I stayed through the sedation shot but because of my horror of dealing with Sadie Bess becoming stiff before anyone could get here, I handed him to doc for the final shot since it might take a few tries to find a vein. He licked his lips as he was barely coherent as what I see as his last "thank-you, mama". At least most of my friends understand it is like losing a family member - esp. when it's been only him and me for 13 years.

Shadow - you were a great little guy and I will miss you - always.

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So sorry for your loss. Shadow sounds like a wonderful family member.
Thanks, profgrrrrl. He was what made my house a home and was almost always good company. I wasn't so sure when he was a pup and wanted out so early every morning before I had a fenced yard. :-)
Kelly - I am sorry that I am late in seeing this - I try to pop in and see what you are up to every now and again.
My heart breaks for you - Shadow was such a great little dog, and such a wonderful friend. I will be facing the same decision myself soon - I have been trying to brace myself for it for a while, to no avail.
Know that my thoughts are with you.
Hope you had a great holiday, and give my best to your folks - doubt that they will remember me, but I remember them fondly. Take care of yourself!
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