I got Blue when he was an 11 week old German Shorthair Pointer.
He was 1 1/2 months shy of being 11 years old when he died. You
mentioned that it took about a year for you and George to develop
your special friendship. The very first night I had Blue, while he
was running at full speed, exploring his new home, his rear leg
struck the protuding end of my barbells. He let out a yelp, and
without hesitation bee-lined to the couch where I was sitting and
dived into my lap. As I petted him and tried to ease his pain and
quiet his crying, brief as it was, a bond developed between us that
was never broken. That very first night, right then and there,
Blue became 'my dog'. And although he developed some very close
friendships, and touched every member of my family, that never changed.
Blue WAS 'my dog'.
With the exception of when I was away for one term of school, Blue and
I were always together. He was my running companion. He was my
backpacking companion. For awhile I sold heavy equipment to loggers,
and he was my work companion. But he developed other friendships.
Especially my mother. During that term of school while I was away, he
was hit by a motorcycle. My brother ran into the street to find Blue
lying with a hole the size of my fist in his chest. On the street
next to Blue was his dinner, which he had lost when he was hit. My
brother scooped him up and he and my father rushed Blue to the Vet.
Blue survived the broken ribs, the punctured lung, the reconstructive
leg surgery. And during his recovery, while he could not stand up to
take his meals or water, he stayed in my bedroom, with my mother,
who never left his side. My mother nursed him back to health, and
would boast to visitor's that she had 'raised' Blue. But, she was
always sure to add, 'But he's Garth's dog'.
One Sunday afternoon, while hiking the 'French Pete' in the Cascade
Mountains with my parents, we had Blue on a leash, just as the rules so
dictated. We heard some barking in the distance. The barking drew
nearer, and as we rounded a bend, the largest dog I had ever seen was
running toward us at breakneak speed. He was headed toward Blue.
While Blue was extremely large for his bread, weighing in at a sveldt
85 pounds, I feared he would have been no match for this other dog
that looked like a pony by comparison. I had heard never to get between
two fighting dogs, and not to restrict a threatend dog by keeping him
on his leash. I was prepared to turn Blue loose to fend for himself
as best he could. With this small freight train running full speed
toward Blue, barking viciously, my mother, all sixty plus years of her,
jumped directly into the path of the charging dog and shouted 'Shoo!'.
I don't know why, but the dog stopped dead in its tracks and just stood
there, staring at my white haired mother who was standing between it and
its intended next meal, Blue. At that moment the other dog's owners
came running around the bend, in hot pursuit, and got their dog under
control. My mother loved ol' Blue, and willingly put herself on the
line for him, just as she would have done for any of her children. All
I can say is that my mother was watching out for Blue that day, and that
God must have been watching out for my mother.
Later in life, I had a roommate who was going through a bitter divorce.
He was a forester, and would work weekends on his own tree farm. He
became attached to Blue, and would take Blue with him to his tree farm
every weekend. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, at about 5 a.m. Blue
would quietly leave my bedroom and lie down in front of my roommate's
bedroom door. Don't ask me how Blue knew when it was Saturday, but he
did. And when he would return from his day of unrestricted romping,
Blue was happy. While he was generally always happy, he had a special
'smile' on his face when he had been running. Running was Blue's
passion, and these weekends spent on my roommate's tree farm were
special for both of them. Except for the last one.
Late Sunday night they arrived home and Blue was smiling, but limping.
His right front foreleg, which was normal sized that morning, was now
badly swollen. I was concerned, but not too concerned as I figured he
had probably stepped in a hole while running and had sprained it. The
next day, Monday, I took him to the Vet. While I was hoping that
nothing was broken, I was prepared for the worst. Or so I thought.
There was no way I could have been prepared for what I was about to
'What we hope it is, is a bacterial infection', the Vet explained.
'This must be bad,' I said to myself, 'if they are HOPING for a
'But, we feel that there is a strong possibility that it is a
particular type, a very deadly type, of cancer. Give him one of
these antibiotics three times each day, and we'll hope it's an
infection and that they will have some effect. If not, we can
amputate the front limb, but the humane thing to do would be to put
him to sleep. Bring him back in one week.'
I was holding back tears as I carried Blue out to my car.
On Tuesday, the Vet I went to for a second opinion held out no optimism.
'This is a very distinct type of cancer, and is very recognizable.
It is also very painful. If you want to enjoy his company for a few
days go ahead, but try not to make it very long. He's not walking on
the leg now, and it's only going to get worse. If you want, you can
say goodbye, and leave him with me.'
I prayed (seriously for probably the first time). I gave him his
antibiotics, eventually having to force them down as the hamburger,
pizza, or whatever I tried was no longer disguising the pill's presence
and he would spit it out. I would talk myself into thinking that I
saw some improvement in the limb. That it was a little less swollen,
that perhaps he had actually put some weight on it. But I was lying to
myself, and I knew it. I would lie in bed with him, my arms
around him, wetting his coat with my tears. Friends and family would
call to see how he was doing and I couldn't stop crying long enough
to talk. After sleeping for perhaps a couple of hours, I would wake up
and for just the briefest of moments everything was okay. But then it
would hit me again, that Blue was sick. Very sick. And the dread of
losing him would spread throughout my body, and I would snuggle up to
him as close as I could, to somehow protect him and ward off whatever
it was that had invaded him. My parents were semi-retired in
Arizona. They came back to Oregon each June for the summer. Although
it was only April, they knew how upset I was and said they were coming
back early. I told them there really wasn't anything they could do, and
not to change their plans. They hesitatingly agreed.
Thursday night I took him to my brothers. My brother, I, and Blue had
barbecued steak. Blue ate his fill, which wasn't very much as his
appetite was dwindling. He could still get around on his three good
legs by this time, but was carrying himself much lower to the ground,
and would now and then hit his bad leg on a piece of furniture or some
other obstacle, and let out a small sound that would make me cry even
more. To avoid this I became his legs, carrying him wherever he needed
to go. Or wanted to go.
The next day, Friday, just five days after that Sunday morning when
he left the house healthy, and came home dying, it was time. I called
the Vet and asked if he could stop by my house on his way home from
work. He said yes but that there would be an extra charge for that.
Although I was going to school at the time, and was poor, money didn't
matter. If my dog was going to die, he was at least going to die in
familiar surroundings where he was comfortable.
When the Vet arrived, Blue barked, as was his nature, but he didn't
move from the spot on the floor where he was lying. He was skeptical
as the Vet approached, but made no attempt to escape or struggle. And
as I got down on the floor beside him, to hold him for that very last
time, the vein was found, the needle inserted, and after what seemed
like a very long time, but really wasn't, Blue was dead. Through my
tears all I could say to Blue was that I was sorry.
That was nearly fifteen years ago. I still think of him. I still dream
about him. I still miss him.
And I think old friend there will come a day
When there are mountains and meadows where you will run and play
And that again we'll meet and start out new
Just you and me, my dog named Blue.
-- Garth Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I just read chapter I of the book, about George, and just wanted to
say it's good to see someone else feeling the same about his dog. My
dog, Sheila, died about a year and a half ago from a kidney failure.
It came on very suddenly in a way; there had actually been tell-tale
signs for several months, but they all seemed just like signs that she
was getting older. Then one weekend everything must have just given
out. We tried for a week to keep her going, but she couldn't eat more
than a little bit and her kidneys were so badly damaged that the
chances of her having a reasonable life were pretty much nil. We
decided she had to be put down.
I think that tribute to George is a wonderful idea. I do still like
to talk about Sheila, but only a few people really seem to be
interested, and fewer still seem to understand what it's like to lose
a dog -- I thought of her more as a little sister than as a pet. It
felt good to see George's page and realize that other people do feel
the same way. Brought back a lot of memories, both good and bad; I
hadn't really thought about her actual death in a long time, but it
also made me think about all the little things I loved about her.
Kirsten Starcher (email@example.com)
I just finished reading your first chapter.
I lost my best friend, constant companion, child, room-mate, Sasha last
month. She was a sweet, beautiful, shy Siberian Husky. I had her for
almost 14 years. The last 6 it was just me and her.
Her end was a lot like your dog's. Full of life up until a few days
before the end. I did not have to make the euthanasia decision, she
died at night at the vets.
I was devasted by my loss. The grief and despondency were almost
overwhelming. I had thought that now after 4 weeks I was almost back to
'normal.' But your story brought back the tears.
You were very lucky to be able to take your buddy so many places with
you. You were very, very lucky to have so many friends to help you.
I've come to the conclusion (after losing my mom last summer in
addition to my dog 5 years ago) that a profound loss--whatever that
loss is--changes you almost down to the DNA. Maybe you look the same
on the outside, but you just can't be the same person you were...
Lorrie LeJeune (firstname.lastname@example.org)