Suburban Snapshots

This is Happening
Again, Already

Monday, July 30, 2012

Today we got bad news about one of our three dogs, Bertie, the youngest. It's been just over a year since we spent over $2,000 trying to save Stella, my favorite, from congestive heart failure. The money -- most of it borrowed -- bought her 2 months.

Anna still talks about Stella, whose ashes sit with her photo and collar on our mantle. She only remembers that we left Stella at the vet's office, and will often refer to her still being there despite the few times Steve has explained that Stella is permanently gone.


This morning as we drove Bertie to the vet to check on a bulging eye that a 2-week course of antibiotics didn't touch, Anna said to me, "He's only going to be at the doctor's for today, not like Stella. He's going to come home, he's not going to be there a long time." And he did come home, but he's not going to be with us for a long time.

Bertie is the only one of our three dogs that I got when he was a pup. God he was cute. 5 months after he came home I found out I was pregnant. I expected him to adapt. Then, when Anna was 11 months old, he bit her face. He missed her eye by millimeters. I wanted him gone, but Steve was so devastated that I agreed to keep Bertie and instead became vigilant about his and Anna's time together. The arrangement has worked well for over 3 years and I've managed to keep my promise to this adopted mutt that I'd give him food, love, and shelter until his last day.

I just didn't expect his last day to be so soon.

Bertie has a bone tumor that's growing into his skull. It's pushing on his eye and expanding into his jaw. Soon it will likely move toward his cranium. Right now he's not in pain, but once we see signs that he's uncomfortable, we've made the decision to euthanize him. Steve and I will be there. Anna will be anywhere else.

I'm not sure how we'll tell her what's happening. This time, we've made a decision. This time, it won't be an 11 p.m. collapse that sends us to the vet. Anna's older now than she was with Stella but she still doesn't understand death.

So it's pretty sad around here, living with this dog we know has such limited time. We'll feed him well and let him hog up the whole bed, pet him extra and give him the warm spot on the couch when we stand up to get a drink or answer the phone. I'm sad that Steve is losing his favorite dog, that Anna will miss 2 animals now.

Bert, our big dog in a tiny dog's body, who dances for treats and is the only one of the three with any manners, who loves to roam the woods at my parents' house in his orange safety vest, who refuses to sit still on car rides and still has puppysoft fur, give us a few months. I'll let you have the good side of the mattress.

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