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Sunday, February 13, 2011

It's So Quiet

I will warn you...hankie alert.

Winger was our alarm system, our Early Warning System.

"Someone is coming up the basement steps! The neighbor's car is in the driveway! I heard a noise! Evil Squirrel is there!" Etc. All the time. It was annoying as hell most of the time. "Give it REST, Winger!"

It's so very quiet now.

Elke is very subdued. I think I may need to find her a play-friend soon. She wants to play and she was playing with Winger. Jesse has always been a very quiet dog, not a lot of barking. And she really is too old to romp and play. I think Elke needs someone to play with a few hours a week. Dogs are, after all, social creatures.

I snapped this picture with my phone Friday morning. I had no idea these pictures with my stupid shitty phone camera would be his last pictures.

I did have a feeling something was really wrong on the way to the vet. You know, one of those creepy feelings inside your gut? Where your stomach is inside out? I had tried to get him to eat breakfast, no dice. I even showed him a interest whatsoever. Not even an ear twitch. I think that's what did it to me, what made my heart just sink. I was tearing up on the way to the vet. Marty was saying, "Jeez, It's OK, he'll be fine." I just couldn't feel it. Winger wasn't eating.

We went to the vet (Dr. Mike), and he was having a hard time finding a steady heart beat. They took blood, then x-rayed him. It showed an enlarged heart. My vet called another vet down the road who does ultra-sound; they were waiting for us. They did the ultra-sound and found he had a child's-fist-sized tumor IN his heart. They could have drained it, which is somewhat risky and it might have given Winger a few days to a few weeks.

At this point, I broke down. We both did. I just didn't know what to do, honestly. I was really torn. Do I let them drain fluid out of his heart? I just did not know. We then decided that we had to let him go. I knew it was the "right" thing but I just didn't know. I really thought Jesse would go first.

They brought Winger in, and he was very dazed and fading. He looked at us and licked Marty's face. I took off his collar, "You don't need this anymore, bud." He has worn that collar from the day we got him. It came with him, from his breeder. We never changed collars.

We were with him all the way, holding him, kissing him, telling him how much we loved him, and it was OK to go.

The vet, Dr. Mark, who we have NEVER been to, never met before, was absolutely outstanding: kind and compassionate. He was petting Winger, before and after. (I did write him a thank you note; my mother would be so proud.) I did not know until we came home, empty-handed with just his collar, that Marty had never had to put an animal to sleep. His animals have always died at home.

He was such a great traveling dog, a great hiking dog. I can see him in my mind's eye, loping on ahead of me, but never too far. If I got up from my chair, if any of us did, he was up...hey, there might be food involved! He was ever-vigilant.

If we'd drop food on the kitchen floor, we'd say, "Clean up in Aisle 7!" and get Winger. He'd eat anything, any time. When he didn't eat there was something very wrong. He ate poop all the time. That I won't miss at all.

When either of us were home alone, he was our bed buddy, always on guard. He was a worrier and sensitive to noise. Thunderstorms and fireworks: not a fun time.

He would have turned himself inside out on his butt for me. He had learned to love so many people but he was Momma's boy. From the moment I saw him in his airline crate at the airport, until the very end. But his last kiss was for Dad.

When he came to us, that day ten years ago in April, he was scared. I peered into the airline crate and just saw two terrified open eyes. He was especially leery of men. I didn't know he had a striped "raccoon tail" until the third day! It took months, years for his confidence level to rise but rise it did. He was happy to meet anyone who would throw him a ball.

Oh the ball! Playing fetch! He was so much fun to play ball with. Just Wednesday, we had a short game. Jesse is really slowing down and Elke runs around with it in her mouth and doesn't get she has to bring it BACK NOW. Winger would get the ball, drop it and STARE AT IT fixated. He would fetch in water too. He enjoyed water and the beach and streams we'd walk near.

He was a fabulous traveling companion. Never got car sick, always pottied pretty much on command. Never really lifted his leg, no marking. Ready for the road, for another adventure. Great in his crate always.

He was "Sir Licks-a-lot", the "Lick-A-Tron 2000." He'd lick you to death if he could. We didn't let him often because of his poo-breath. He'd lay with his head on your foot and always watched with one eye on you. He was a snuggler.

I hope he isn't lost --- in between worlds... After a seizure, he'd have that bewildered look. I can't get it out of my mind's eye. I keep hoping that my sister in law, Kaya, who loved doggies or Hart (whom he knew) was there to help him. "Hey, dude, you wouldn't BELIEVE the poop piles they have here!"

I figured it out....I have owned Jesse and Winger (almost 10 years) longer than I have owned any other dogs. Yes, Hart lived for more than 16 years, but for 13 of them she lived with her daddy. I was just a babysitter and loving Mom.

It is just so weird, so empty, so sad to see his crate and bowl. I'm not ready to take his crate down. It's different when a person dies. "When is the memorial service/funeral?" It's in the newspaper. You get anonymous food gifts, cards. There is something so people can give you hugs and love and talk about your loved one or say they are so sorry. With a pet, it's not there.

And I will say that the out-pouring of love and sympathy from family on the phone, emails and Facebook postings has been tremendous and I am grateful With a few notable exceptions, we haven't gotten any of that it's just a dog, get over it crap. Thank goD! Do you ever get over a hole in your heart? No. Luckily, the heart has room for more love.

This will hurt for days, weeks, months, I know. I will probably second-guess myself too. We are both hurting. It's lonely. There is a part of our home missing. I am grateful that Jesse and Elke and Rufus are here; they too need us as we need them.

Yesterday I had a meeting at the Humane Society that I really had to go to. Everyone there knew that my baby was gone. And they, of all places, get it. Of course. There is a dog there whose vibe, whose gentle, worried spirit reminds me of Winger. Her name is Destiny. I hope she can find her forever home and bless someone the way that Winger, with all his weird ways, blessed us for 10 years.

I cannot stop crying. This just sucks.

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