Friday, January 11, 2008
Our hearts are broken...
Last Saturday, January 5th 2008 we lost a very dear part of put family. Our dog Toby had to be put to sleep. He was very sick and we were told by his doctors that his prognosis was not good. This was a very difficult decision to make and now, almost a week later it is still very hard for us.
Toby was a puppy when we brought him home. He was born on December 1st, 2000 in Salinas California. His mother was a stray and was taken in by Animal Friends Rescue Project (AFRP) of California. He was born at the Salinas Animal Hospital and he was the runt of the litter. All of the puppies were champaign colored except for Toby who was black and his brother Jamie who was brown. Jamie was adopted by one of the veterinarians in the hospital and Toby came home with us in February of 2000.
He was so small. I think he weighed maybe 5 lbs max. We wrapped him on a little shirt and he sat on my laps for the 20 minute ride home to Monterey. He was shaking uncontrollably and we later learned that this was normal for him. Toby was a bit of a chicken. He was frightened of blowing leaves, plastic bags, other dogs, and anything that moved suddenly and caught him off guard. Any of these things would send him running in the opposite direction.
We kennel trained Toby and he was very smart. It only took a few months of training and he went potty outside, never having any accidents until this past October, when he became very ill. Toby had a blanket and a "baby" (a little brown stuffed elephant) inside his "house" (that is what we called his kennel). If he misbehaved and we told him to get in his house, he ran right into his kennel.
Toby moved with us from Fort Ord in Monterey, to Alabama, to Chicago, to Beale AFB in California, to Fort Ord in Monterey again, and finally to Fort Mead in Maryland. While Toby loved to go in the car, it inevitably made him car sick. We always had good times traveling.
Toby was a really good boy. He would not climb on the table or counters to eat your food. He rarely ever got into the garbage. He never ran away from us (except to run barking at people as they walked by and scare the you know what out of them, but really he only wanted to lick them, he never bit) he came when he was called. He could sit and lay down though he was usually too hyper to do it for more than a few seconds at a time. He loved to run and he would run around us in circles outside. We were always afraid he would make himself dizzy and hit a tree.
Toby loved to go hiking and we took him often to Garland Ranch Park in Carmel, California. It was so beautiful there. there were so many trails to hike and there was a small brook where we would sit and rest while Toby played in the water.
Toby has been a part of out family for the past 7 years, as long a s Terry and I have been married. It is going to be very strange to not have him around anymore. It is hard for me to come home. He could always hear our car pull up and he would bark his head off until we opened the door. Then he would be standing there wagging his tail so hard you would think his butt was going to fly off into the wall. He sure loved us a lot. I walk in now, and the house is empty. No friendly wags and no barks to welcome you in.
In October, Toby got very, very sick and he really almost died on us then. He became very lethargic and then he refused to eat or drink. I took him to the vet and they ran a bunch of tests. They diagnosed Toby with hemolytic anemia. His body (his immune system) was attacking and killing off all of his red blood cells. He had to be checked into the emergency veterinary hospital and he stayed for a week. He received a blood transfusion and some medications to suppress his immune system. We were told that his condition was incurable and that he would likely need to be on medication for the rest of his life.
He had to take 8 pills everyday and have his blood checked weekly. He seemed to recover somewhat but he was never the same. He spent most of his day sleeping, he wouldn't play or run at all. This was such a change from the hyper dog he has always been. He has always acted like he was still a puppy. He also did a LOT of eating and drinking. His medication made him constantly thirsty and hungry. Because of the powerful drugs he was on suppressed his immune system, he kept getting infections. On Saturday of last week he was really sick again, refusing to eat or drink and having bloody diarrhea in scary amounts,so back to the emergency vet we went. The doctor told us that he would never get better. He was going to keep getting these awful infections that caused him to be sick and to have the bloody stools. He was going to keep suffering so we had to make a very difficult decision to end his suffering.
He was like one of my children. He came to us as a baby and we raised him, worried over him, took him everywhere we went and now there is a big emptiness. I know time will ease the hurt, but it seems like that is a long time away. Talking about him and writing about him I think helps me a lot. We have lots of pictures of him and lots of wonderful memories. I think we are lucky to have had such a good dog, even though it was only for a short while. I never knew how much losing a pet would hurt. I miss him so much.