Monday, June 8, 2015

Borrowed Time

Sadness in the Kate household. I am heartbroken. Numb.

I'm mourning the loss of the sweetest, cutest little thing that has ever come into my life. I know there will never be another like her.
After the death of the family dog, a loveable Cocker Spaniel named Tucker who lived to the ripe old age of 17, we decided to adopt a small dog. One that could keep us company, travel with us in our new empty nest way of life. We tried for the longest time to adopt a dog from a shelter or animal rescue. Infuriatingly unbelievable walls and doors of ignorance stood in our way.

I was frustrated and shocked that we were turned down time after time.

One day, I heard of a local groomer/breeder who had a beautiful little Havanese puppy available for adoption. It was an answer to prayer.

We took her home and our lives were forever changed. She brought such light and fun to our home. She was gentle. Smart. Funny. Sweet. The most amazing little puppy we had ever had. She won our hearts from the start. Everyone who met her fell in love. She loved, and was loved by, all.

We enrolled her in training and she passed everything with flying colors and before long she passed her Canine Good Citizenship test. We entertained thoughts of training her to be a therapy dog. Her gentleness and lovely demeanor would make her an excellent therapy companion.

But life and a new member of our family, Jax, changed our course. When Sammi was 2 years old, we adopted another Havanese, goofy fun-loving Jax. He became her partner and father to her 6 adorable puppies.

We found loving homes for 5 of those puppies and kept one of them, the quiet, thoughtful Thor.
And with that, we had a brand new blended family. We had many fun times: afternoons at the dog park, strolls on the beach, an RV trip to Nashville and Myrtle Beach, romping through the deep snow drifts during our harsh winters. I even just bought a new bike with a big basket and was planning on training Sammi to sit in it so she could come along on our road trips. (Hubby was planning on buying a pull along trailer for the back of his bicycle for Jax and Thor to ride in.) So many plans. With the three best traveling companions...ever!
Life. It has a habit of getting in the way, right? You know that saying about best laid plans? Um, yeah. Right. We got thrown a mighty wrench into our dreams.

Last year Sammi was diagnosed with liver disease. With no cure. We tried various treatments to help her have a pain-free good-quality of life, with no success. We really thought we were about to prepare ourselves to say goodbye. Our vet suggested we just take her home, love her up, spoil her and let her live life to the fullest for however long that would be.

So bye bye meds. So long bland chicken and rice meals. No more acting like we were already mourning her passing. Hello yummy, stinky treats. Store bought beefy dog food. And back to our normal doggy hijinks! Long walks. Rides to visit the grandparents. Playing fetch with the little yellow and red balls in the backyard. For the next year, we returned to all the fun and games our dogs loved.

And Sammi thrived! She gained weight. She danced and jumped around like she did in her puppy days. She chased and played with her baby Thor. She bossed around her husband, Jax. She guarded our house with her ferocious high-pitched bark. She went
back to standing guard until everyone was tucked into bed at night and then she crawled into her "hole" in the headboard of our bed.

There were days that I forgot how really sick she was. She looked and acted so normal that I don't think anyone would have suspected that she was living on borrowed time.

Earlier this year as the weather finally warmed, our thoughts turned to getting outdoors and bringing the dogs to the dog parks. We had avoided them because we were afraid of Sammi contracting something from the other dogs. But after such a good year, we wanted to get our vet's opinion on her prognosis. We also wanted to find out if there was a chance now that we could vaccinate her so we could bring her to places she had previously enjoyed going to, like the doggy parks and getting a professional grooming. Could things have changed? Had there been a miracle?

The vet was shocked. She was really surprised to see Sammi looking so well. (I think she probably never expected Sammi to live for more than a few weeks, never mind a year!) Tests were taken. Everything looked pretty good, considering. Her liver levels were slightly elevated, tho not in a really bad range. But we were disheartened to hear her say that it still wasn't a good idea to vaccinate Sammi. There was still a good possibility that she would suffer a bad reaction to her immune system. And we didn't want to take that chance.

Back at home, Sammi soldiered on. She had a bad day here and there where she didn't feel like eating or drinking. She'd act a bit lethargic and hide for a day or two. But she always bounced back to her normal active self.

But the time we dreaded finally arrived. I knew it in my heart. She began to hide more and more. She picked at her food. She had frequent "accidents" in the house. This past week, she took a turn for the worse. She refused all food. I found her sleeping in the oddest spots. Her big brown eyes looked sad and tired. She curled herself up into a tiny ball of fluffy fur in a corner of a chair or the couch. She avoided the headboard hole. There was no chasing her Thor. No nipping at her Jax. Gone was the spring in her step. The sparkle in her eyes. The fight in her had left.

Her little body had enough. It was time to go.

I'm so grateful for the extra time we had. But it doesn't hurt any less. She was such a little thing but has left a huge hole in my heart.

RIP sweet Red Rockin' Samantha Pearl...until we meet again.

I love you.

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