Monday, April 5, 2010

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

[Koal, July 30th, 2009, at Rocky Mountain National Park. Click on it for a bigger pic.]

It hasn't been a good time lately for me. We lost Dweezil about 4 weeks ago. I acquired an eye infection a couple weeks ago. On the inside of my eyelid actually. Kinda hard to do work when one eye is constantly tearing and ruining your focus. Plenty of work issues as well, such as my PC unable to consistently run the weblogic server I need to run to do my job - and when it does run, it is very slow. My eye infection appeared to be clearing up, but then it regressed due to...

The real reason for the title of this post is that this weekend we lost the best black Labrador retriever in the world. The best from my perspective, of course. I'm not sure exactly when I got him. It was 14 or 15 years ago. Koal was 12 weeks old and was a big fat puppy who chose me by being the first of the litter to walk up to me to check me out. In hind sight, I know exactly why he was in a hurry to be the first one to me to check me out. He wasn't choosing me, but was looking to see if I had any food for him. It's ok, though. The choice was made and turned out to be a better match than I could have imagined. Even though he was a defective retriever - he had little interest in running after a ball, much less bring it back - he made up for it with his huge heart and coffee table clearing tail wagging. He was always happy to see me, and always tried to do what he thought I wanted him to do. He loved life and life's ability to give him more time to eat more food.

He acquired small tumors over his life and I affectionately called him Mr. Lumpy. He developed a limp as well. It didn't stop him. It only slowed him down. He still loved to take walks down the street, and use his sniffer to get the daily news.

The lumps caught up to him. He developed a couple of bad tumors that caused secondary issues. His esophagus became weak and failed to deliver the food he ate down to his stomach. The failure started Wednesday evening, and became an obvious issue on Friday. We took him to the emergency vet Friday evening. They provided a diagnosis and instructions for a home treatment. But warned that the treatment was far from guaranteed, and that even if it did work, it would likely only work for a few months. Not ready to give up on my loyal companion, we tried the home treatment - feeding him dog food meat balls instead of kibble (something more substantial for the esophagus to act upon), and to position him with his head and upper body above his lower body - to try to get gravity to help out. It looked like it was working. While he was in that position, he could breath better and was not having much gag reflex. Once we let him down (after 50 minutes of a recommended 30 to 45 minutes), and let him go out for potty, his dinner came up almost immediately.

Knowing that he was likely to be throwing up more and and making a lot of noise through the night, I set him up with some pillows (to rest his head on and be elevated so that he could breath easier) in the bathroom. As I was closing the door, the look in his eyes broke my heart. Knowing that this was very likely his last night, I could not close the door. When I left to go get changed for bed, he got up and moved to the bedroom. He needed company more than I needed a good night sleep. I moved to the floor and slept with him there - even though neither one of us got much sleep at all. On Saturday morning, April 3rd, we took him in and relieved all his stress and discomfort. The easiest decision I've made (the only one to provide comfort to Koal) coupled with the hardest thing to do.

The loss is by far the single biggest loss I've experience in the last 20 years. But this is only an indicator of how much joy and happiness that we have shared in the last 15 years.

Amber kept wandering the house looking for him that evening, and was trying to sniff him out on our walk the next night. I know she misses him too.

Knowing that no dog can truely replace him, I am still planning on getting a new puppy for the next (hopefully) 15 year time span. I don't know when we will get a new one, or if he will be as good of a companion, but I do know he will be different.

No comments:

Post a Comment