11/09/2013

Beatrice...


Megan had been bugging me about wanting to get a dog. Don't get me wrong. I love dogs. I'm one of those weirdos that actually likes dogs and cats. Megan grew up with dogs. My family didn't get our first dog until I was in college and away from home most of the time, so I didn't really have a full appreciation for having a dog. We both agreed that if we were going to get a dog, it would be a shelter dog and an older dog. There are two shelters near us whose websites we would check regularly. There was a ten-year-old female mixed breed named "Annabelle" that we were interested in, so we went to look at her and the other dogs. We took two dogs for walks while we were there. The first one, Beau, just didn't seem interested in us. In the meantime, some other people had taken out Annabelle, so we waited our turn. The connection was instant. She was happy and full of energy and incredibly sweet. She didn't seem to know any commands, but she didn't bark or jump up on anyone. We decided we wanted her, but because the shelter knew we had cats, they had to call our vet to make sure we were up-to-date on their shots before we could take her home. Of course they weren't, so that delayed us a few days, but on September 12th, we brought "Annabelle", now Beatrice (our cat's name is Annie) home.


The first order of business was addressing her teeth. Beatrice had been a stray when the shelter got her, so the only things we knew were that she was around 10 (they guessed) and that she had some dirty-ass stinky-ass teeth. We got her in for a cleaning where they were forced to removed ten teeth. Don't worry, dogs have 42 teeth, so she still had a few and they were now clean.


We weren't sure how she'd be with the cats, but there was never any problem between any of them. Bea (as we called her) seemed pretty energetic for an older dog. She loved to go for as many walks as she could and was quite good at chasing a tennis ball. We also discovered that she was better trained than we originally thought. It turned out she did know "sit" and "shake" and understood "come" with a little instruction. She was a big sniffer and loved other dogs and people. I wasn't sure how'd I'd feel about the requisite walks before we got her, but she made each one a joy. It didn't take long for her to win people over with her smiley face and gentle nature.

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Towards the end of October, she started having diarrhea a lot. We took her in and they gave us medicine which seemed to do the trick. We thought maybe she had drunk some puddle water. Shortly after, she stopped eating regularly. We thought it might have been because of the medication. I took her in and the vet did an x-ray of her stomach. She found enlarged lymph nodes around her G-I tract. She knew there was cancer, just not how widespread. She told us that Bea was okay at the moment and might be for perhaps another few months with the help of steroids, but she would eventually decline and we would have to decide when to make the tough decision. This was October 28th. 


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The rest of that week, her appetite came back and she was back to her old self. We decided to make the most of the time we had left with her. She got to eat whatever she wanted, which happened to be scrambled eggs. This Tuesday, though, was the start of a shit week. I noticed Bea standing on the couch with her head drooped to one side, behavior I'd never seen before. Then she tried to jump down and collapsed and couldn't get her balance. I thought she had had a stroke. I called Megan and told her to come home right away. We decided that it was time. She couldn't walk. Her eyes were all crazy. We took her in and the vet told us he suspected vestibular syndrome, an inner-ear infection in older dogs that causes vertigo. He recommended that we wait three days because it usually clears up and the dogs typically get back to normal quickly. We took the vet's advice and brought her home. That night we hand-fed her and gave her water by syringe. By the next days she was getting her balance back and could go outside on her own just like the vet said. She was improving the next day and we were feeling good. Then she stopped eating again. She had already lost quite a bit of weight. Then she stopped drinking. Then, last night, she puked and there was blood in it. That was it. We had the vet come in at 9:30 last night and put her to sleep. That is the first time either of us have had to do that.

As someone who has had a lot of pets over the years, I shouldn't be surprised by how quickly I fell in love with this dog. She was just so fucking good and happy and sweet and we didn't get enough time together - less than two months. It's devastating. I take comfort in knowing she didn't have to go through all this stuff in the shelter and that we got to spoil her at the end. We'll miss you, Busy-Bea!