Category Archives: Dogs

On regret

My life has been kind of a shitshow lately. I don’t really talk about it publically. Besides, it’s small potatoes compared to the actual trauma some people around the world deal with. So whatevs.

But I got a sympathy card in the mail today from our vet, Clairmont Animal Hospital. It contained handwritten notes from Dr. Smith, our vet tech Joyce and a few of the other staff expressing their sadness for the loss of our beloved nut job, Roxy. It was so thoughtful.

That was the proverbial straw. I always fall apart when people show kindness—to me or anyone—and this did me in.

Roxy started acting strange around two months ago. Normally an insane bundle of jumping, barking, tail-wagging happiness, she was more sedate. She didn’t get excited about going for a run, and when we did run together, she lagged behind. I wrote it off to the heat.

Then she started limping off and on, and yelping if she moved the wrong way. She had torn her left ACL last year, so we thought she had now torn the right. “Crazy dog,” we said, and started doing the math in our heads, lamenting the cost of another surgery.

But it got worse–fast. I took her to the vet and they couldn’t find anything wrong. Long awful story short: two weeks, three different vets, many pain pills, X-rays and an MRI later, we found out she had bone cancer. We asked how much time she had. “None,” they said. Our hearts broken, we released her from her pain. She was four years old.

That was almost two weeks ago, and saying I miss her is a massive understatement. I keep thinking about all the signs that she didn’t feel well that I wrote off, or was too busy to think about at the moment. That tears me up. She had to be in a tremendous amount of pain. And the grace and strength she showed that last month just flattens me.

The very worst thing, though, is I remember so clearly the last time Roxy tried to get me to play. Her modus operandi was she’d find a sock, or hat, or something she wasn’t supposed to have. She’d come to me with a sparkle in her eye and a wag in her tail, showing it to me, taunting me to chase her. And around the house we’d go, me mock yelling, “Gimme that sock!” Her pretending to let me get it just before taking off again. It was her favorite game.  That day, I know she hadn’t been feeling well, and somehow she pulled herself together enough to bring me a sock and entice me to chase her. I was working, though, and brushed her off, saying, “Later, Rox.”

There wasn’t a later. She never asked me to play again. And I didn’t even realize it until she was gone. You can’t imagine how that hurts.

How often do we say “later” or “not now” or “I’ll do it tomorrow?” There is no tomorrow. Don’t buy into that “there’s always tomorrow” bullshit. Because there isn’t.

The next time someone you love asks you to grab coffee, read a book, go for a walk, look at their picture, talk, chase them around the house, or whatever, do it. Do it. Nothing is more important. Nothing. Because there is no guarantee that there will be a later.

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Saying Goodbye to Max

The vet called today. She told me that she had Max’s ashes ready for us.

We adopted Max when he was 10 months old. I wasn’t sure I wanted a German Shepherd, but my husband did. I agreed that if he could find a GSD at a shelter we would talk about adopting it. So one day on a whim, he stopped at the local animal shelter with our two youngest in tow; and there he was. He’d just been brought in as a stray a few days before, so he wasn’t even available for adoption yet. The kids begged and pleaded so I agreed to go see him.We waited the required few days and set up a “meet and greet”. Usually the shelter staff will name the animals brought in, but he hadn’t been there long enough. They put us in a small room and went to get him. When they brought him in he didn’t even hesitate, he just ran right over to me, put his paws up on my shoulder and gave me a hug, tail wagging furiously. Somehow he knew I was the one he had to win over. I looked at my husband and said “His name is Max.”. The poor guy was so skinny, he must have been on the streets for quite awhile. But he was smart and sweet and gentle, and he stole my heart.

1330614044320We were lucky, and so blessed. We had 16 years with Max. Most German Shepherds have a life span of 10-12 years. For most of those years he was happy and healthy. He didn’t slow down until he was almost 14. The vet was always amazed and would tell us “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it!”  We didn’t do anything special, we just loved him. That was easy to do.

I could talk forever about Max, about how intelligent he was, or how patient he was with the kids. How he never growled or barked or nipped at them, even when our granddaughter rubbed petroleum jelly all over him. But I would never be able to convey what a wonderful dog he was. Max gave us so much love and trust that letting him go was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I wanted to share all my memories of Max, but I’m not quite ready to let them go. So I’ll share them a little at a time, when I’m missing him the most.

Two weeks ago today, our buddy Max crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Tonight he’ll be coming home for good.