Today is the one-year anniversary of the death of my dog, Shady. My “eulogy” to her was my first post to this incarnation of Masson’s Blog. I’m reposting that entry, typos and all, in her memory. My apologies to those of you who come for the politics.
I had to put my friend to sleep today, November 15, 2004. She had a big tumor on her liver. The vet said that it was almost certainly cancerous and there was little chance they could remove it. She hs been sick for the past 3 weeks. After a few days, we took her into our local vet. At first, our local vet thought it was leptospirosis and gave her a shot and some antibiotics. She got a little better, was eating again and was showing more energy. Then this Friday night, she wasn’t eating and she was very lethargic. Amy took Shady into the vet. By the time she got there, Shady was wobbly. The vet decided he couldn’t help and that Shady should go to the vets at Purdue who have better facilities.
By the time Shady got to Purdue, she couldn’t walk. Amy carried her in. They did an x-ray. There was internal bleeding in the abdomen, but since it was the weekend, they couldn’t really do any more in depth tests. (They said mostly they had to stabilize her, but I think they just didn’t have the right staff over the weekend.) Ultimately, they had to give her a blood transfusion on Saturday and seemed to stabilize her. We went to visit her on Sunday. She was sad to be there, but glad to see us. Still wouldn’t eat. She was very weak. Today, they were able to do an ultrasound and found the tumor. We decided it just didn’t make sense to put her through a tough surgery and a tough recovery when her prognosis was so bad. So, we put her to sleep. There were just no good options. Amy & I held her as she died.
We got her in June of 2000. At first, I didn’t really want a 3rd dog. But, Amy really wanted a puppy, and I decided that would be o.k. as a wedding present. So, Amy picked up a cuddly little black mutt puppy from the rescue she’d been volunteering at. The pup had been found running wild with a pack of wild dogs. Shady was a goofy looking thing. Mostly black with a snow white patch running up her chest and crossing her nose. Thick fur on her neck and chest. Tiny head. When we got her she was small with a great long tail. When she grew up, she had a barrel chest, shor legs, same small head, and her tail remained magnificent. Thick and long, made a great thump. We think she was part black lab, but that certainly wasn’t the whole story. Just a muddled up bundle of dog. “Made up of spare parts” we liked to say.
Such an odd combination of spare parts that she had some hip displasia by the time she was 2.5 or 3 years old. However, she seemed largely impervious to pain. This presented a problem with our “invisible” fence. She’d wander out of the yard and not particularly realize she was doing anything wrong. One time we watched her standing on the fence line with the shock collar on. The collar was beeping, and the skin on her neck was twitching a bit from the shocks. She just wagged. Eventually, we had to get her a belly collar so she could feel the shocks in her belly to get the message across that we’d really rather prefer if she stayed in our yard. Who could really blame her though? Bunnies were constantly wandering into our yard and rudely running off when she came into the yard. If they run, shouldn’t she follow? Now, if they stood still, then she was confused. if they didn’t run, she’d sit down and whine a safe distance away, a bit scared and unsure what to do. Toads, on the other hand, offered no fear. They were simply good playmates. Very fun to paw at. She liked rolling on them but, for some reason, the toads weren’t much on playing back.
One of my first memories of her was as a puppy scampering around the house. We had a little end table with a lamp on it. Shady ran underneath it, got caught up in the cord, and the table “attacked” her. This scared her so much, the poor thing ran to a desk we had against the wall and stuck her head between the desk and the wall, trying to crawl into a safe space and get away from the mean, mean table. That winter, we hadn’t trained her to stay in the yard with our “invisible” fence. So, we tied her on a cord when we let her out. She’d get herself wrapped around the tree. Wouldn’t bark. Could never figure out how to get herself untangled. When you came out, she’d just wag at you happily, as if to ask for a little help. She always *loved* the outside. She’d hang out in the cold pretty much as happily as she’d hang out in the heat. Rain? No problem. The only thing she didn’t like about being outside was lack of company. Sometimes she’d come to the window and bark, just trying to get the other dogs to come out. Often, she’d just lay contentedly on a patch of bricks just beyond the courtyard looking into the back yard. Just enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells. But, neither of the other dogs *ever* had to go out by themselves. Shady was always game to go out with them. This could have something to do with her eagerness to pee on top of any of the other dogs’ urine. Sometimes she’d have to go so badly, and yet she’d wait until one of the other dogs was gone so she could climb over that spot and do her business.
It was good fun to watch Shady and Brooksey, the dalmatian, play. Shady would get excited and scamper away, her back legs almost moving too fast for the front of her body, causing her rear and tail to dip down a bit as she ran. Brooksey, as graceful as Shady was awkward, would run circles around Shady before grabbing at the collar on her neck and dragging her down. Shady would work her way up and the process would resume. Both dogs happily running from courtyard to backyard around to the sideyard and back again. Gracelessness was also apparent when we took Shady on walks. I always joked that she looked like a WWII ship that was nervous about U-boats in the area. Never walking in a straight line, she was always zigging and zagging, running into your legs, running to see what the other dogs were up to, stopping suddenly. Worst walker ever.
Another puppy memory I had was typing in my office. Occasionally, I’d just see her trot by with her dollie in her mouth. Just a little rag doll. She was always so gentle with the stuffed toys. She liked carrying them and laying on them but would rarely chew them or treat them roughly. Also, I remember once when she was a puppy, she got out of bed as I was going to work. (Amy was on Christmas break and still sleeping.) Shady still seemed very tired, but for all the world it looked like she was groggily seeing me off for the day. (As she got older, there was nothing groggy about her in the morning. She was always anxious to get out and patrol the yard.) We crate trained her, and she seemed to really enjoy getting in her crate. Over the years, while Amy was working, she’d stay in her crate during the school days. During the summer, it seemed like she welcomed the occasional opportunity when we’d have her get in there. And, of course, she was always welcome to go in there on her own. We joked that we needed to put a little “off duty” sign on the crate.
Of our three dogs, Shady was the most eager to please and the most attentive to us. She would pretty much always want to be in the same room. Often, she would warm your feet as you sat at the computer desk. When she slept, she liked to sleep on top of your pillows. Once she got comfy, there was really no moving her. (Earning her the nickname “Shady Lady Concrete”) However, if you insisted, there was never any active resistance. She was just limp and heavy. She’d never get mad at you for lifting her up and putting her somewhere else. She had an unfortunate tendency to go roll in stinky stuff in the yard (or sneak out into the adjacent cornfield), but when she came in, she’d go to the bathroom and jump in the tub if ordred to do so. On weekends, when I’d sleep in, Shady really wanted me to get up. Eventually, she started letting me sleep. But, if Amy were up first and gave her a simple “where’s Dad?” Shady would run upstairs and jump on me, happy to have been given permission to start my day.
With our newborn, she was the most tolerant. The other dogs are pretty good with Cole, but I never felt at all nervous when he crawled on Shady. Her tolerance was a little odd, I suppose, given how scared she was when strangers came to the house. She’d bark for quite some time, particularly at tall men who were standing and moving. We always figured it was a result of her upbringing with wild dogs, not having been socialized at an early age to a lot of different humans. And, truth be told, we never get a lot of visitors. There was also an element of protectiveness, apparently. Because when we would leave and Shady was alone with the stranger, her tendency was to quickly become buddies with the person.
Shady was also something of an escape artist. We never could keep her gated upstairs with the baby gate we had. Seemed like she was heavy enough and ungraceful enough that she was barely getting enough air with her jumps to get onto the bed. But somehow she could jump that gate. This earned her another nickname, “The Great Shadini.” Later on, when we started gating the family room to keep Cole in it, Shady could be seen leaping from the kitchen into the family room. She just wanted to be close.
I don’t have any momentous closing thoughts. I guess I’m not the first one to ever lose a dog. But, she was a good dog. I loved her. And I miss her.
November 15, 2004