Saturday, May 26, 2012

Status Revision

The Run

The run this morning was interesting.
I did not get as winded as I have the last two sessions – meaning going into level three breathing in the first half mile.
Level 1 = normal, every-day breathing rhythm – a breath every two or three seconds.
Level 2 = preferred running breathing rate of one in and out cycle every four steps.
Level 3 = accelerated breathing rate of one in and out every three steps.
Level 4 = all out panting reserved for emergencies, and short end-of-race sprints of one minute or less.
I know you all wanted to know that.

So today I was able to hold my breathing to a more comfortable rate which MAY mean that I was stronger that the last two weeks.
Assuming this is so, I do not know why it is so.
I have not felt sick or “weak”.
The previous two weeks performance MAY have been an Indication of the stress I was feeling because of 1) the death of my dog, and/or 2) looking for a job.
While I was not conscious of any exceptional stress during that time, it was there.
Which begs the question, Why was this session any different/better?
To which I reply, I don't know.

My dog is still dead and I am still unemployed.
Starting a new job is even more stressful than being unemployed, methinks.
So, why the improved performance?
I don't know.

There is one possible motivator – the Cotton Row race is this coming monday.
While that could easily be intimidating to me, it is also exciting.
I have been watching my diet all this past week, cutting down on my carb intake to diminish my abdominal flab a bit.
Even though my practice course today does not cover any of the roads that the 5K race will cover on Monday, I still thought about the race today.
The other good news is, no body parts squawked today.
There were a few minor mumblings from left foot, knee and hip in the first quarter mile, but all of these hushed up as we all got warmed up.

Speaking of warmed up – weather was mid-60s and a bit humid.
While it is not “ideal” running weather, I prefer it to 15 degrees with a 20 mph head-wind and sleet falling on me in the dark.
So I would rather sweat than have freezing nose/hands/ears/toes.


What is a dog front?
Never mind.
I have a method for dealing with my passions/desires sometimes.
If I find myself wanting something for a long enough period of time, I get tired of arguing with myself about it.
I may make a list of the pros and cons of such a purchase/project, or I may write a scenario of my life with the desired object/circumstance.
And sometimes I take some preliminary steps to actually acquire the desired item.

This last step may seem like a temptation, but it is actually a measured step to snap the imaginary desire to have the item with a dose of reality.
Such as, if I wanted a particular new car.
One way to kill the desire is to go test drive the car and talk with the sales person, and see the BIG numbers on the sticker in the window.
Thus, the realization that I cannot afford the new toy will sink in and my desire will cool.
I have done this similar method before and it works for me.

So, for the last week, I have been debating about whether to get another dog.
I even went online and found two candidates within 30 miles or so.
Both of these dogs are in shelters and are full-grown.
I pondered and argued with myself for several days over this.
So yesterday I called one of the shelters to inquire about one of the dogs.
I found out the details of the animal and the cost to adopt ($150).
I told the lady that I would think about a visit.
That ended my curiosity.

The truth is, I cannot afford another dog.
I am unemployed and have small chance at landing a job at my age (67).
If I do not find something, I may have to file for bankruptcy before the end of the year.
Not complaining, just stating a fact.

I am now deathly afraid that any new dog I get will also get sick and die.
I do not have the income to pay for more doctor bills.
The dog now lying in the hole in my back yard cost me $450 and died 34 hours after the doctor gave her a clean bill of health.
I dread going through the emotional trauma of another loss like I just went through.

If I DO get a job, it will reduce my free time, which I need to spend (some) with the new dog.
I cannot get a dog and then leave it alone in my back yard all the time.
That is not fair to the animal.
What is the point of that?
But I still have that one percent desire/interest of getting another dog.
That is my heart speaking.
My head says, no.
No way.
For many reasons.

We will see who wins.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The One Percent Decison

I promise I will not keep boring both of you with this topic but I need to purge a few last thots about it.

As I noted in an earlier blog, just a few seconds after Sally died, the thot came to my mind, “this is my last dog”.
I was not crying then, or even grieving at that moment. (that would come a few minutes later...)
I was as coldly lucid as I have ever been in my life.
I was tending to my friend as a doctor and friend.
Observing every detail of her last minutes of life, trying to comfort her as much as possible.

I did not dwell on it then, but I have had some time to ponder the thot since then (and my subconscious dreams have worked through more of the possible scenarios and details, it seems).
In addition, several of the well-wishers who have stopped by or otherwise expressed kind thots and feelings to me, have asked if I plan to get another dog.
To all I have said, no.

Would I LIKE another dog?
Under certain conditions – yes.
Do I NEED another dog?
Do I WANT another dog?
No. (not in my present or foreseeable circumstances)

This is not a decision made out of bitterness or anger or emotional distress of the moment.
It is coldly logical.
All of the reasons why I did not want a dog in the first place last year, still hold – small yard, lack of time to devote to the animal, etc.
I love animals in general, I love dogs in particular, and I love them enough to want to avoid placing them in circumstances that will make them uncomfortable, unhappy or unhealthy.
And now that I am looking for a full time job (again...) I will have less time to devote to an animal, should I be successful in that quest.

And I have told some that this is a 99 percent firm decision.
The one percent is to allow me to change my mind at some point in the future.

But my subconscious mind, it seems, has already run several scenarios for the one percent decision.
It has been only as my conscious mind probed some questions related to this topic that I discovered that I already had come to some conclusions about them.

Here they are:

Scenario 1

I wake up one day (or come home from work/errand/church) and find a large, open box on my door step with a puppy in it.
Donor - unknown.
I can choose to keep the little creature or I can take it to the Huntsville Animal Services office and let them deal with it.
Outcome depends on my situation at the time of discovery.

Scenario 2

I wake up one day (or come home from work/errand/church) and find a dog lying (alive) on my porch, in my yard, etc. tail tentatively wagging.
This could be a small puppy, an older puppy, or a full-grown dog.
Circumstances for the arrival of the animal – unknown.
I can choose to keep the creature, seek to find its owner or I can take it to the Huntsville Animal Services office and let them deal with it.
Outcome depends on my situation at the time of discovery.

Scenario 3

I go to the Huntsville Animal Services office (which is about three miles from my house...) to seek a new dog for my yard and life.
This is done simply out of desire to have a new fuzzy friend.
The new animal could be a puppy or a more mature animal depending on how the introductions go at the animal facility.
Sometimes you know right away, other times, you take a chance and the relationship develops over time.
This would only be done if my life situation allowed me to devote the proper amount of time and effort to training/caring for the animal.

Scenario 4

I contact the same people who provided Sally the Dog, contract for another animal from the next litter and get a more-or-less exact replacement for the big white dog I used to have.
This, knowing that no two dogs are ever the same, even of the same breed, even from the same mother, even from the same litter.
So I know from the this moment that no other dog will be an exact replica of Sally.
I am under no delusions about this.
We will learn each other and develop a relationship based on how our personalities interact.
The new dog will be named Patty.

Frankly, I am amazed that my mind has constructed each of these possibilities without my authorization.
If you were to call me delusional, I would not argue.

Below are the last pictures of me and my dog.

Saturday, May 12, 2012



It was one week ago tonight that my dog died.
Strangely, it seems both longer than that, and as if it were last night.
But I am slowly moving on.

I can go long stretches of time without feeling the strong, sad emotions of a few days ago.
But when they come now, they come so suddenly that they surprise me.
Like today while I was shopping for groceries.
I guess I got too close to the pet supply aisle.
I actually did not go into that area and I did not consciously look there.
But I guess I subconsciously saw some pet stuff peripherally from where I was and that set me off.
The emotion came suddenly and I fought to suppress it just as quickly.
Then it was over, leaving me with just another reminder that that big white dog meant more to me than I realized.
There is still a lot to learn about myself, it seems.


I tried to go to bed earlier last night so I would be rested for my four-mile run this morning.
I tried.
It was still after ten before I switched off the light.
I slept pretty good most of the night but had to get up about four-something to piddle.
Because it was so close to my regular getty-up time I had a bit of a battle getting back to sleep.
And as usually happens in this situation, I was just getting good and snuggly asleep when my alarm gently poked in my ear drum.
Now, too sleepy to want to get up, I turned off the alarm and resumed sleeping with my mental clock set for ten more minutes.
And sure enough, that is what my head did.

I rolled out of the Royal Bed and began my pre-run ministrations.

The run went well the first three miles.
I felt reasonably strong, though my breathing went into level 3 before I was one mile into the party. (level 3 is one in-and-out breathing cycle every three steps)
But I was more or less comfortable and bopped along without a problem.

But after walking up most of Mountainwood Drive, my left knee began whining loudly as I began running again.
The reason for this is unclear.
I had not done any fancy footwork, stepped in any holes, landed badly with that foot, etc.

But the ligament under the front of my left kneecap was NOT happy.
And it told me about it every single step I took.
Loudly. (read: painfully)
So much so that Runner, Coach and Running Central were in intense discussion about whether to stop running and walk a while.
The pain felt similar to someone poking the end of a small piece of wood into the bone behind my lower left knee ligament.

The consensus was to keep going and see if things could be sorted out.
So I continued on along Tollgate Road trying subtle changes in the way I put down my left foot to see if I could make the pain go away.
Nothing seemed to help, but after half a mile or so, I realized that the sharp pain had gone away.
It was replaced with a dull, muted mumble of mild discomfort.
This was easy enough to bare that the conference was cancelled.
I finished the run feeling delightfully tired and jacked up on my endorphins.
All in all, another good run.

There were several other runners out this morning.
The big Cotton Row race is in two weeks.
I am running in the 5K this year with the wife of a friend from church who is a new runner.
This will be her first race.
This will be my 135th race or something like that.
I don't know.
It doesn't matter, really.


Well, I almost made it through the day without a crackup.
I cleaned my back door off today, to remove all the dried muddy paw
marks, and slobber residue.
I did fine.
I can look at the grave in the back yard and just feel an emptiness now.

I hung my bed sheets out on the clothesline today for the first time
this year without any concern that someone would see them as a game
and pull them off.
I managed that okay, too.
All the toys are picked up and safely in the landfill, inside and out.

I still go the back door and look in the back yard out of habit.
I know there is nothing to see out there now.
Just the grass with that little patch of brown dirt out next to the fence...
But I go anyway, and look.
I don't know why.
Maybe just to test myself in some way.

But as I was pondering what to fix for dinner tonight, I saw the beef
strips in the refrigerator I bought for my friend two weeks ago.
I had cooked them so that they would be ready to warm up and mix with
her corn-ball food.
I could not decide if I wanted to have dinner from Mexican Express, or
fix something here, maybe using those un-used beef strips.
And somewhere in my attempt to make a decision, I lost it.
It kind of surprised me.

Meal time was a special time for us.
Breakfast and dinner.
We would eat together....
Well, we ate separately but at about the same time.
Just a few feet apart in the same room.

She would always finish hers first.
It was never enough.
And she would shadow me as I sat down at the table with whatever I had fixed.
In the last couple of months she had settled into a routine of sitting
or laying next to my chair, or at my feet under the table and quietly
wait while I ate.
Sometimes her paw would settle on my foot.

And I spoiled her by letting her lick the last residue from my plates
or bowls when I was finished.
Then while I washed the dishes, she would play in the back room with
some of her toys.

Interestingly, the place where my chair sits while I eat, is the exact
spot where she choose to lie down for the last time.
Did she knowingly choose that spot to die?
Or was that a coincidence?
Somehow I doubt it.
But sometimes I try to read too much into situations.

Still a ways to go....

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Second Guessing

I caught myself second-guessing my actions in the last days of Sally the dog again this morning.
If only I had done this, or not done that.
If had known she was going to die so soon Saturday night, I would have stopped reading the stupid book I was reading and sat with her in the dining room that whole last hour.
(Jesus said, "What, could you not watch with me one hour?" Matthew 26:40)

Then my mind goes to the thought I had Sunday morning as I was going through this line of thought,

She does not care now.
She does not hurt now.
She holds nothing against you.

The truth is, Sally just wanted to be near me.
She expected very little from me.
She had no expectations about what I could do to ease her discomfort or heal her illness.
She only knew that she was sick/uncomfortable.
My time with her those last three days was all she expected and thus, all she wanted.
All she knew to receive from me was food (which she could not use at the time), water (which I provided for her and she drank the first two days), physical proximity (which meant I was interested in her), my occasional petting/scratching/rubbing, and my occasional chatter.
The truth is, even when I was busy doing other things, she was happy just to be near me in the same room, or in the room next to me, or in the same house with me.

If you watch two healthy dogs, they occasionally play with each other, which involves running/chasing each other, chewing/biting each other, and pawing/touching each other.
At other times, they simply lay near each other.
Occasionally they will sleep touching each other, but not always.
The key element in friendship/relationship for a dog is proximity.
I have learned this over the last 20+ years and did my best to apply this understanding to this relationship with this dog.

Interestingly, only humans pet/scratch animals.
Animals do not do this among themselves, though they will occasionally lick each other.

The human element in my relationship with my dogs is that I talk to them.
Not in a squeaky baby-talk voice, but in a regular tone, like I would a child or adult.
I understand that dogs do not understand english (or any human language), but they do understand the emotion/energy (as Cesar calls it) that we humans have.
Over time, they learn what we want them to do and not do, and we learn what they like to do and not do.

The animal I named Sally was just a dog.
Although humans and some animals can develop strong relational bonds, in the final analysis, animals are still just animals.
It is easy for we humans to over-interpret the actions and thinking of our pets.

I still catch myself feeling guilty for some of the things I did or did not do with Sally.
The truth is, she probably did not notice.
Even if she did, she did not hold it against me.

I miss my dog.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

My First Walk Alone Since....

I promise this will not go on forever.
But I have to purge my mind/heart of this pain.
And I am getting better.

I walked around the neighborhood this morning at dawn.
This is the first time I have done this in several months.
My daily walks with Sally had become my exercise walking time.
Now I am back to the solitary method.
It felt both strange and comfortable.

While walking, I think about stuff.
Not unexpectedly, my thoughts lately have been predominantly introspective.
And perhaps a bit selfish.
One thought I had this morning was, did I even have a big white dog?
Were the last 150 days real?
Or did I just imagine it all?

I did okay for most of my walk, but my mind wandered into forbidden territory toward the end.
I was in the last quarter mile of my walk and my mind replayed my last 20 minutes with Sally.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
I don't know but I did it.
How many times in the last two days have I tortured by heart with a re-run of those last twenty minutes or so?

I remembered when I came into the dining room to check on her, her tail did two weak flops.
It was her acknowledgment that she knew I was there and she appreciated my presence.
She was giving me all that she could at that moment.
Two little tail wags was all she had left to give to me.

I lost it then.
Right in the middle of the street.
I kept going, struggling to get my childish boo-hoo's under control.
It took a few long seconds, but I managed.

It will be hard not to think of her when I walk alone again because we walked these streets together.
I see things that she found worthy of a extra sniff.

Sorry to prattle on....

Monday, May 07, 2012

On Sally the Dog

Please bear with me in this.
This is how I drain the pain and grief I have inside me now.
I write.
I do not wish to spread my pain to others, but for those few who are interested in the details of Sally, the Great Pyrenees Mountain Guard Dog's final days and her passing, this will answer most questions.
My motive is not to cause you to feel sorry for me, because in a few days or weeks, I will be fine, with just some memories of these events.

This is how our last days together went.
I realize that for most people this is TMI to the extreme.
But I need to do this.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The first indicator that something was wrong was Wednesday evening when I let Sally into the house and presented her with her dinner.
I had just cooked some beef strips and mixed a few of them with her dry dog food.
Normally she would have gobbled this combination down in a minute or two.
But that night she took a couple of sniffs and looked up at me.
I knew right then that something was very wrong with my dog.

I put her food down on the floor in its usual place and continued to prepare my dinner.
She went back to the back door to be let out.
I let her out and she went out onto the grass and vomited.
After eating my dinner I went out in the back yard and sat with her for about 30 minutes.
In that time, she heaved 5 more times.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thursday morning when I greeted Sally in the morning about our usual time of 6:30 she was about the same.
Still no appetite.
She wanted to be in the house with me and watched from the back room as I ate my breakfast.
Since the morning walk was cancelled, I spent some time with her in the back yard.

As the day went on she was throwing up every 30 minutes to hour or so.
I had seen her be sick before, so I was not too concerned.
After a few heaves and some rest she would recover and we would be fine.
Or so I thought.
Since her stomach was empty by now, her throwing up amounted to the dry heaves.
Very little substance with a little light-colored liquid of stomach bile and/or the last bit of water she had drunk came out.

I was concerned and did some online research on sick dogs.
One item stated that being sick was not as big a deal for a dog as it was for humans.
It said that for most sickness, they heal on their own within 24 hours.
This seemed reasonable to me so I made a mental note to wait until Friday morning before taking any action.
I also did an online search for nearby veterinarians just in case.

Since she was too sick to play or go for a walk, I consciously made time to go out and sit with her in the yard while she lay around being sick.
I was worried about my doggy and it was killing me to watch her suffering.

After seeing pictures of dogs sitting/lying near their dead owners/companions, I felt that she would understand if I just sat quietly by her.
I began praying for her.
Not knowing what we were in for, I prayed that God would either heal her or take her quickly.
Helplessly watching her suffer was killing me.
I prayed and cried for her several times that day.

That evening I let her in the house and she slept quietly most of the night next to my bed.
She seemed to rest well and I hoped we were turning a corner.
Maybe all she needed was some rest to beat this bug.

At about three AM she woke up – which woke me up.
I assumed she needed to go out to pee.
I let her out and she went into the grass and threw up again. (dry)
I was feeling sorry for my dog.
I left her outside and I went back to bed.
And at that moment I knew we were going to the doctor.

Friday, May 4, 2012

I called the selected veterinarian's office as soon as they opened Friday morning and made an appointment for that morning.
I did not call this an emergency but we needed some help/information quickly.
My dog was suffering and I could not stand to watch helplessly much longer.
The doctor and the assistant were very gentle and careful with my Girl as they poked and prodded her.
They took her into the back room to do blood samples and x-rays while I waited in the lobby.

About 30 minutes later the doctor came out and we looked at the x-ray pictures (2 of them) together.
Her large intestine seemed to have a lot of material in it.
There were no other obstructions or other indicators of a problem to be seen.
Sally's blood showed all normal.
She was not dehydrated, her heart beat was strong and clean and normal, her temperature was normal, the doctor said there was a lot of intestinal gurgling.
She weighed 63 pounds.
There was no obvious indicators for her sickness.
I mentioned the dead bird that she had munched on during our wednesday morning walk.
The doctor noted that, but there was nothing in the results of the examination to indicate that it was the cause of the problem.

They gave me some pills to fight her gastroenteritis and another to calm her nausea, and scheduled another appointment for the following Friday.

She continued to throw up every hour or two that day.
I went out and sat with her for an hour or so three or four times.
Each time I talked to her, petted her, prayed for her, cried, and felt totally useless.
Since Sally had been mildly sedated to allow the vet to do the x-rays and blood tests, I did not give any pills to Sally until that afternoon.
Ten minutes after I put the two pills on the back of her tongue she threw up again.
That evening I offered her the chance to come inside, she seemed content to stay outside, so we slept separately.

She woke me up around midnight with the sound of her vomiting just on the other side of the fence outside my bedroom window.
I lay in bed crying and praying for her for a while before drifting off to sleep again.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I went on my usual Saturday morning run at 5:30 AM.
I went outside to visit her that morning hoping for some signs of improvement.
There were none.
She did not seem worse, but no better.
I fixed breakfast for myself but fixed nothing for Sally because I knew she was not able to eat.
(had she shown the least amount of interest in eating anything I would have gladly complied)

I sensed that Sally was vomiting less often.
I hoped that perhaps we would see some improvement soon.
But the day wore on and I was becoming increasingly concerned.

She look exhausted and spent the day lying in a spot for 30 minutes or so, then getting up and slowly walking to another spot to do the same.
And the places she picked were interesting.
She went to the far south-west corner of the yard, then to the far north-east corner, then to another far corner against the fence.
In almost every case, she went to the farthest edge of the yard and laid against the fence.

Her walk was that of a zombie.
She would get up and stand still for a few seconds.
She could not hold her head up, her front legs were covered with vomit or saliva and thick strings of it hung from either side of her mouth.
I would wipe her mouth with a paper towel and 10 minutes later she would be messy again.
This was not always from vomiting again, but just from slobbering, it seems.

She walked slowly to her next destination then plopped down and lay like the sphinx.
Evidently, she could not lay on her side or she would become sick again, but I am just guessing at this.

I went out to sit with her several times that day.
I would talk to her, pet her, cry and pray for her.
My prayer was basically the same from the beginning – I asked God to heal her.
And if He was not going to heal her, then allow her to die quickly with as little suffering as possible.
I was silent much of the time I was with her.
As bad as it hurt me to see her suffering, I felt that I needed to be near her.
That SHE needed to know that I was near her.

My motive for this came from some pictures I had seen in the last few months of dogs who had lost friends or owners.
In each case, the dog would remain near the dead companion in silent vigil.
Sally was not dead, but I tried to emulate that dog action, hoping she would understand.
And I hoped that it would provide some measure of comfort to my, otherwise miserable, friend.

By afternoon I realized that Sally had stopped drinking her water.
I was dying for my dear, suffering dog.
I could do nothing for her and she had no idea how to communicate anything helpful to me.
Strangely, at dinner time, she went to the back door of my house.
I opened the door to let her in.
After several long seconds she stepped into the house and lay down by the door.
As sick and weak as she seemed, I hoped that this was a sign that she was getting better.
While I fixed my dinner in the kitchen, she lay in the next room quietly panting.
By this time, her mouth was dry. (too dry, I was to soon find out)

I took turns reading a book, playing on my computer and talking and sitting with Sally after my dinner.
She in turn moved slowly from lying in the back room to the bathroom, to my bedroom.
While I lay on my bed reading a book, Sally lay in a narrow patch of the floor next to my bed.
At about 6:30 PM she stood up.
She tried to turn around the leave the narrow (about 18 inches) area next to my bed but her hind legs would not cooperate.
It took her several seconds to get them to function, then she walked slowly to the dining room next to the chair where I usually eat.
At first I thought she wanted to go outside, but I was wrong.
I left her there and, unable to know what to do for her other than be near her, I returned to my book.
Just before 7:00 PM I went out to the dining room to see how she was doing.

Sally was laying on her side, panting.
It was a new posture for her.
This did not look good.
I sensed that she could lay like this for another 12 hours or it could be a matter of minutes until she died.

Her tongue looked like a piece of cooked bacon and her mouth was dry.
I got a spray bottle and filled it with cool water and sprayed her mouth a few times.
Her tongue never moved.
This was not good at all.

I went into the back room and got a seat cushion and sat down on the floor next to her.
Her tail flopped weakly twice.
She knew I was there. (although her eyes were open, I was not sure she could see anything)
I scratched her neck and ears a little and spoke to her.

With my heart breaking, I started to pray again and then I began to cry.
When I started to cry, SHE started to cry.
I immediately got control of myself.
If she could sense my emotions, even in her declining state of health, then I needed to be strong for her.
In those minutes I told Sally that I was sorry I could not help her.
I prayed quietly that God would take her quickly.

In the next minutes her breathing became more labored and shallower.
Soon, she was working so hard for her next breaths that she was pushing her paws against the floor.
A few times she mixed a faint high-pitched whimper in with her exhales.
She was struggling.
This was it.
Helplessly, I watched with morbid fascination as my friend faded from this life.

Finally, she stopped breathing altogether.
I felt her heart still beating, strongly, in a surprisingly slow rhythm – about one beat per second.
It would be just a few seconds now...
She let out a deep exhale.
About a minute later her heart stopped.
She gave one last deep gasp, her body convulsed and she was gone.
I looked at the clock, it was 7:17 PM.

An inky black liquid oozed from her mouth onto my white vinyl floor.
I got up and got some paper towels to clean up her small mess.
I checked her back end to see if there was anything leaking from there, but there was nothing.

I was coldly lucid.
There were no tears, no prayers now.
My Sally was dead.
There was nothing more I could do.
In a selfish way I was glad she was dead.
She would suffer no more.
And I would suffer no more, either.

I remember thinking, this is my last dog.

I knew I needed to move her fairly soon so I looked in my back room at my available wood to find a pallet to transport by big, dead dog outside.
I found a four foot piece of plywood left over from a piece of furniture I had built then dismantled that would fill the need.

I slid Sally's body up onto the piece of wood and pulled her out of the house, being illogically careful as I went over the step-downs to the patio.
Even though I had not given much conscious thought to where I would bury my dog, I dragged her pallet across the back grass to a spot about three feet from the back fence.
I slid her body off the plywood and went back into the house.

I little more black liquid had run from her mouth so I wiped it off of the plywood and returned the piece to its place against the wall.
I did a final wipe up of the dining room floor and went into my bedroom and posted the notice on Facebook that she had died.

I debated whether to bury her body then or wait until morning.
It was so dark at about 7:30 that I was not sure I could finish the job and do it properly.
But waiting until morning allowed the risk of varmints coming to desecrate my dog in the night.
I decided to wait until morning, wake up early and dig the hole.

I was surprised at my cool demeanor.
Fifteen minutes ago I was crying, now I was cool.
I knew what was going on.
I was in shock.
The state would not last.
And it did not.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I took spells of reading and crying until 1 AM, when I finally turned out the light.
I slept fitfully, waking up every hour.
After I woke up at five AM I could not go back to sleep.
I was thinking of digging that hole.
As I was putting on my work boots, I heard the distant rumble of thunder.
Now what, I grumbled.

I went outside and began digging.
Fortunately, no critters had found Sally's body.
I dug my hole down to about nine inches when the weather threatened to rain and zap me.

Reluctantly, I took Sally's body by her hind feet and dragged her into my tool shed to protect her from the coming rain.
Why I did this I am not sure.
I went into the house to look at the local radar.
The storm was significant but mostly to the east of my part of town.
It rained a little, but not hard, and not for long.

After about 30 minutes, I decided to risk getting killed by lightening to finish my job.
At this point I did not care if I got killed.
In a light drizzle with lightening rumbling around me, I finished my hole.
I rolled Sally's stiff body into the hole, arranged her head, legs and tail then began putting the dirt on top of her.
I tired to not think about what I was doing.
One thing I noticed when I had rolled her over was that her now-stiff tongue had fallen out of her mouth and had lay flat against her jaw.

When I finished covering the hole and scraped most of the mud off of my work boots, I took them off and went into the house.
The first thing that hit me was the memory of Sally's tongue, now stiff and still, that used to lick my hand and my used dishes.
And I fell apart.


I did not realize how many times in a day I used to look into my back yard.
This comes to mind because now I catch myself start to look only to realize that there is nothing back there to see.
It was an acquired habit.
Any time I was not otherwise occupied I would take a peek at my dog in the back yard to see what she was doing.
When I left the house to go somewhere, when I returned, while going to or from the kitchen to the bedroom, or just because I was curious.
There is no need now.

I did not mind eating alone.
I have done it for twelve years.
Occasionally, I would have a guest or two.
But mostly I have eaten alone.

After Sally came I got used to having her around while I ate.
After she learned the rules about not taking what was not hers, she was very well behaved.
Now, suddenly, eating alone feels VERY alone.

It will take a while to get comfortable eating alone again.

I have removed the special plywood shelf I fixed in the rear seat of my car so Sally could ride back there more steadily.
(I was in the process of building a smaller one for the front passenger seat, no longer needed.)
She loved to ride in the car.
All the towels I had dedicated to her car trips are now washed and ready to put back on the shelf.
No longer needed.

I have mopped up all the faint paw prints from my kitchen floor one last time.
The box of doggy toys has been removed and the toys thrown away.
Tomorrow I plan to rake the back yard to collect and remove all the doggy toys and sticks from there.
There will be one last scoop up operation with the shovel to remove the remaining deposits from the back yard.
I want to remove the dog house, but my son warned me to keep it around for a few weeks.

I loved my dog.
I am surprised by the depth and intensity of my reaction to Sally's sickness and death.
She was just a dog.
But apparently I had invested a lot of emotional resources into our relationship.
The greater the commitment, the greater the hurt at separation.

She only lived 195 days.


We do not know.
I went back to the veterinarian today to ask her why my dog died.
She had no answers.
I questioned her about parvovirus.
Did she test Sally for it?
There were no indicators that it was present (rectal bleeding/discharge/diarrhea, extreme weakness, very low or very high white blood cell counts, etc.)

I asked her about the dark liquid when Sally died.
The vet said it was probably old blood but there was no indicators at the time of her examination what caused that.
(I never saw any dark liquid when Sally was vomiting. And I saw her vomit at least ten times or more...)

From the time I first noticed that something was wrong (Wednesday evening) until the visit to the veterinarian (Friday morning) was 40 hours.
From the time of the visit to the veterinarian until her death (Saturday evening) was 34 hours.
Total time of Sally's illness – 74 hours.

I am saving a question for God - Why did you allow me to have this dear creature for five months or so and then take her away from me?


April 15 th of 2013 was my last year to work for HR Block. I disliked the corporate pressure to make us call customers to try ...