If you have never experienced the love of a dog, you may not completely empathize with this post. But I hope you hang on til the end.
On April 1, 1999, I was presented with a gift, although I paid for it. Her name was Dottie. She had freckles on her face and paws. I renamed her, as you do.
My Cha was fearless. And she couldn’t be housebroken. I’d recently re-injured an ACL tear and was on crutches and she didn’t care. She would just as soon pee on the carpet as look at me.
Oh. I’ll never have another puppy again!
We overcame that first year. My ACL wasn’t repaired, but she did manage to pee in the right places.
We were four years into her wonderful life when her feet began to drag. It was a “hearing” thing that took me to the vets. I just “heard” her back leg dragging when she walked. Dr. Eleanor Thompson took some tests but couldn’t figure out what was wrong. She sent us to a neurologist, Dr. Deena Tiches. Cha went through an MRI, which we feared would show a cancerous tumor. There wasn’t one. A spinal tap was then done. The results showed two things. A tick disease and/or a cow/deer related disease. Cha was on antibiotics for nearly two months and was saved. Thank you Drs. Thompson and Dr. Tiches for your perseverance!
There is no way I can convey to you how much I loved this dog. No way. We were a single entity. If I went to walk on the beach, she would stand on the deck barking at me until I returned. If I walked out of the front of the house, you could see her visage in the glass, reprimanding me for leaving without her.
If I was in a room, she would be there. How could a person feel more loved?
And, yet, here I am, without her.
Our lives are long, so much longer than our canine companions, despite our best wishes.
In late December of 2011, she was diagnosed with acute renal failure, probably due to lyme disease. They call it lyme nephritis. I thought I would lose her in minutes. I changed her diet. She was on low protein. I researched. I fed her home-cooked meals. I focused so solely on her kidney disease that when a couple of years later (yes, I DID keep her alive all through that–4 years) the vet said something about neurological deficits but I wasn’t totally coherent. What? Neurological deficits? We’re focusing on kidneys!
Neurological deficits took over. It was slow. Her back legs started to give out. She couldn’t do what she wanted. My beautiful girl. Her eyes were imploring. But she was the most stoic creature ever. She gave herself over to me.
I was the slow one. I was so focused on her kidney disease that it never occurred to me that I could lose her to something else. A disease called degenerative myelopathy was taking over. I was no longer battling kidney disease. I was so slow. When I finally came around, I fed her whatever she wanted. We were no longer worrying about protein. I needed to give her whatever I could to keep her alive.
This day, a year ago, is when I lost her. I took her for what I thought might be some kind of a stabilizing treatment. I wanted to take her to the beach in a week. One last time. She was lying down and desperately incontinent in the reception room. Dr. Cohen’s eyes caught mine.
I knew what he was thinking.
We were at the end.
I gave her up that day. I sat on the floor in an exam room and let her body rest against mine. I petted her. It was feeble. I so, so didn’t want to let her go. She had been mine for 16 1/2 years. Mine. My beautiful girl. I held her as long as I could until I felt her body begin to grow cold. It happened so much quicker than I could have imagined. That moment I knew she was really gone. My Cha. For so many years I’d dreaded this moment and it was here.
Everyday I wonder if I will ever have in my life a creature like Cha. They are not as ordinary as you would think. I’ve had six dogs and known many more, but a Cha, no. A Cha is a one in a million. She is a boss and a friend. She plays and is never afraid. When you think the worst is upon you, she juts your elbow up with her nose.
She jutted my elbow up with her nose.
And loved me and claimed me as her own.
Every day I hope that I will find a girl like her. My dear, beloved, Cha.
Bless you always, my dear girl, Cha.
I will miss you for always, until we hopefully live together again.