When Cindy and I were married 33 years ago, she wanted us to have a dog for a pet. We agreed that a hunting breed, whether it would hunt or not, would fit our lifestyles best. Shortly after we bought our first home, Furst, a German Wirehaired Pointer, came under roof. He was a wonderful pet, companion and very affectionate. Life at our home was super.|
Furst developed cancer at age 9 and had to be put down. We experienced the pain of such loss, deciding that the pain was so great, we would forgo the joy of another dog.
That was until a co-worker of Cindy's literally brought a 6-month-old Springer Spaniel to her workplace — a rescued dog. Cindy, then I, fell in love with who was to become Gabby. Cindy's single caveat was that we would get a second dog when Gabby was 6 or so to ease the pain of when Gabby's life would likely end.
I'm a breakfast eater — a bowl of cereal covered with banana slices every morning. One morning I dropped a slice, Gabby was quick to pounce and a ritual was started. Gabby would than sit at my side and dutifully wait for her share of the banana.
Well, if one Springer is good, two are better, right? Enter Muggsy, another black and white Springer. Life was super at our home, especially at night when the four of us would snuggle and snore together. And the morning banana ritual now had three players, one in a chair and two on the floor alternating slices.
As reasonably expected, Gabby's health deteriorated and she had to be put down seven years ago, at age 14. That certainly was difficult for Cindy, me and Muggsy. He seemed lost for quite some time. Gabby was his leader even though Muggsy was dominate.
About a year and half ago, we noticed Muggsy's left rear leg didn't seem to be working right. We started giving him glucosamine that provided little relief. He compensated with his right leg to keep getting around fairly well. Becoming more noticeable, Cindy had a frank discussion with our veterinarian, who said that little, if anything, could be done.
Cindy and I would not and could not tolerate observing any pain or discomfort. That would be our deciding factor should it come to that as long as he could/would eat/drink and have bodily function.
A year ago he could no longer stand on four legs for grooming, so grooming ended. The daily runs around our yard shortened. Not able to navigate steps well, his water bowl was moved from the basement to the kitchen.When stairs were no longer tolerable, Cindy and I (mostly Cindy) took turns sleeping on the couch in the family room with him nearby.
It seemed that Muggsy, over 1, 2, 7 or 14 years, had grown to never wanting to sleep alone, and we were willing to accommodate that. Other points worthy of mention were that Muggsy seemingly got happier as his health deteriorated, he had little if any feeling in the back half of his body, showed no pain or discomfort and wanted to be as physically close to us as possible wherever he could. He would not give up, and neither would we.
We covered the slick kitchen floor with rubber backed throw rugs for traction. He needed help to get outside to "do his business" and was totally dependent on help to get back inside.
Last week his front legs showed significant weakening. The time had come. We had prayed many times that one morning Muggsy would not wake up — we did not want to do what needed to be done. We wanted the vet to make a house call, but that was not to happen. We carried him to the truck and drove to the vet.
As I write this column, I gaze at the portion of this morning's banana still lying on the counter that would have been his. Tears are running down my face. It's been six days since Muggsy breathed his last breath and I still feel a gaping void in my chest.
There's movement on the deck just outside the door. I see a chickadee hopping on the doormat. There's something in the tiny bird's beak. It's white, black and grey hairs, left from Muggsy's coat. A wild bird is gathering Muggsy's hair to line its nest. Is God speaking to me? I think so. Life does go on.
Eco Tourism Charity Tournament: The second annual Mississippi River Eco Tourism Charity Bass Tournament, the first of four events in the Greater Quad City Charity Bass Tournament Trail, will be held out of Albany on Saturday May 4. Entry fee is $120 per boat in the event that carries a $2,000 first-place cash purse based on a 75-boat field. For complete information, call Jeremiah Haas (309) 227-2867.
Bob Groene is outdoors writer for The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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