A Dog Is For Life.

It was 1961, I was four years old, when Laddie came to live with us.

He was a six-week-old bundle of black fluff, with a waggy rear end and a licky tongue.......

I was nineteen when Laddie died in his sleep in 1976. He'd never gotten over the death of my Dad the year before.

He'd been devoted to my Dad, you see, waiting at the gate every day at the time Dad was due home from work, welcoming Dad home with great enthusiasm, even when he, Laddie, developed arthritis in his back legs.

Dad died suddenly, of a massive heart attack, at the age of fifty, in 1975. Laddie continued his wait at the gate every day for weeks afterward, sitting there in expectation for as long as his painful legs would permit. Then, he'd limp into the house and curl up against what had been Dad's chair - and cry till he fell asleep......
 My Mum found Laddie dead one Sunday morning, curled peacefully in the kitchen. We buried him in the back garden......

Over the next thirty years, as I married, got my own home, threw myself into marriage and motherhood, I had cats as pets, mourning each one as he/she died.

In 1995, I married for the second time, to a man who is a great dog person.

In 1996, we adopted a three-year-old labrador/rottweiler/husky cross ***** named Rusty.

We knew nothing of her background, save that she'd been seriously, physically abused. We had a three-year-old son at the time, so we were taking a risk in adopting a dog who's temperement was unknown......

She proved to be the most affectionate, loyal animal anyone could wish to have as part of the family.

All she'd needed, you see, was a family - in dog terms, a pack - that she could be part of and in which she could know her place.

I can't begin to describe how much Rusty brought to my life.

I have a degenerative spinal condition that causes me much pain and has brought me to the status of being registered disabled.

As I became increasingly less mobile, so did Rusty, as age affected her rear legs and arthritis took over.

Long days I was alone, unable to get out as my spine degenerated; my husband was at work, our son at school, then college. Rusty was my sole companion.

In 2006, Rusty's health deteriorated rapidly. The arthritis became acute.

Both cruciate ligaments had to be surgically replaced and the drugs she had to be given every day to prevent inflammatoin of her rear joints, began to affect her kidneys. 

She also developed dementia.

It was in January of 2007 that she became incontinent - a situation that distressed her terribly. She'd never wet the carpet, wouldm always go outside to relieve herself. When her legs wouldn't allow her to do that, she'd cry in distress every time she lost control and wet where she lay......
By mid-February, she'd lost control of not only her bladder, but of her bowels, too. Her dementia had progressed to the point at which she didn't know which direction to drag herself when she tried to get to the back door to go out into the garden.

The vet told us that she was at the end: her blood pressure was sluggish, heart rate extremely slow and her kidneys were on the point of complete shut-down.

It came to that AWFUL point when we had to amke THAT decision.......

It was February 23rd, 2007 -  our honorary neice's first birthday - when my husband and son carried Rusty to the car for that final trip to the vet's......

It's a testament to Rusty's nature that, no matter WHAT she'd endured during treatments, she'd never once attempted to bite a vet.

Laying her out on the table that final time, aftert prepping her for  IV, the nurse burst into tears and fled the room, saying that she couldn't bear to see Rusty slip away......

My husband had, knowing that that moment was imminent, had crafted a wooden casket in which Rusty would be laid to rest. That final evening, he brought her home from the vet's, wrapped in her favourite blanket, laid her in that casket -and sat vigil all night in the study - where I now sit, typing this.

The following morning, he and our son dug a grave and we lowered her casket into the earth.

I miss her SO much, even after three years.

Through all those long, lonely days, she was at my side, my constant and only companion.

I'm now, more often than not, confined to the house by the degeneration of my spine. I don't get out, I see no-one beyond hubby & son for weeks on end.

I miss having an animal around the house, but I have to accept that I'm not up to caring for an animal.

If you DO get a puppy, I wish you well.

There's a bond that forms between you and your dog that nothing can ever break.

Let us know how it goes......

meggi56 meggi56
Jul 12, 2010