Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dog Heaven

As many readers know, we recently said goodbye to Mr. Lumpy. I said there's a longer story to this - it includes Mr. Lumpy, Our Malamute, and this time of year.

When Mr. Lumpy joined our household, there was another dog in residence, Our Malamute. He and Lumpy respected each other, but Our Malamute was the boss. By the time Lumpy came along, Our Malamute was 14 years old, and suffering from an endocrine disorder, which affected his liver. He also lost his hearing. He became so weak he could no longer take the walks that he loved.

We travel in August, and last year, months before our trip, we reserved space at the doggie summer camp AKA Pet Resort for both Mr. Lumpy and Our Malamute. But by August, Our Malamute was too ill to be boarded, and a vet examination concurred. The kennel wouldn't take him.

We were faced with an agonizing decision. Should we euthenize him? It seemed so crass, like some awful vacation to-do list....."Stop the papers, hold the mail, leave the key with the neighbor, kill the dog...." And he kept coming up and putting his paw on my knee, and looking at me. How could I do it?

We felt lucky to learn of a local person who worked for a vet, who would be willing to house-sit both Our Malamute and Lumpy. She was far better than I was about caring for him and cleaning him when he soiled himself. It seemed perfect.

And it was for a few days - we checked in by phone. All seemed well. But then Los Angeles suffered a terrible heat wave. And Our Malamute was so weak he could not survive it. Our house-sitter tried to save him but it was no use. She felt so awful. And then she had to dispose of his remains.

This August - our travel time again. We took Mr. Lumpy to the vet for a checkup for his kennel stay. The tests came back and we learned how badly Mr. Lumpy's body was failing him. His kidneys were failing. He had nerve degeneration in his back legs.

I remember feeling so bad that Our Malamute suffered the heat wave needlessly. That he died without us near him to care for him - even though our house-sitter was wonderful, she was a stranger. I remember feeling so horrible for her, too, that she had to sit vigil over him, and had to clean up the mess.

When we learned about Mr. Lumpy's condition, I just felt it wouldn't be fair to take a chance, and it wouldn't be fair to make someone else deal with the consequences of our decision.

Mr. Lumpy was our adopted dog. We talked to his real family, who said it was OK to let him go. The vet made a house call. Mr. Lumpy went peacefully, lying on his dog bed, with all of us patting him and telling him how good he was.

I posted a while back about our hike to the Topanga Outlook. Back when Our Malamute was young and vigorous, he hiked this trail with us. Here's a photo of him in Winter of 2006.

Our Malamute loved to hike the Santa Monica mountain trails with us. True to his breed, he was a walking machine. When we walked to the Outlook, we'd slip his leash and he'd run ahead. By the time we clambered up the stone steps, he'd already be there waiting for us.

I like to look at these photos of him, on top of the Topanga Outlook, and remember how happy he was there.
When Mr. Lumpy came to live with us, he was already too old to hike the trail. But maybe he can make his way out there now.

"No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing"

- Pablo Neruda

If there's a Dog Heaven, they're there together.


KathyR said...

Aw. Sweet doggies.

M. Bouffant said...

Oh, sad, sad, sad. But lucky animals who needn't suffer as much as we do on the way out. That really is the best thing to do. Especially the house call.

Let us know when you find another one. I know there are thousands out there who deserve a home (not a house) like yours.

Must go now, all teary, & going to see Toots & The Maytals on the S. M. pier tonight.

An Enchanted Cottage said...

Oh my gosh, I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face. I can relate so well to what you have written... We're still feeling the pangs of losing our two beloved doggies this past year, one last September and one this past March... Have you ever read "Good Dog. Stay." by Anna Quindlen? I have a link to it on the sidebar of my blog. It tells her experience of having to say goodbye to an old, faithful friend. There's a link to her book on the sidebar of my blog.... I'm so sorry for your losses... Donna

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lumpy was lucky to live with you at the end of his life. You made the right decision, to spare him loneliness and suffering when the end was inevitable.

I am a Tornado ~ proven fact! said...

Stunning, he was beautiful.

We found her in our backyard after a big storm (she HATES storms). She was skinny, full of worms, and terrified of loud noices. I thought she was running alone for a long time, we found out months later she was only alone a few days. Anyway, she is coming around, her personality is coming out. She is very bright and has figured out how to open my glass doors (and how to unlock the door while we are at work) so now she has to stay outside all day - really, she DOES NOT MIND IN THE LEAST - it is where she stays all night and morning if we were home anyway ... sorry this was so long.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am a Tornado ~ proven fact! said...

oh, and Santa Monica is one of the best places on earth.

I love California, so very much especially the coastal cities.

I am a Tornado ~ proven fact! said...

You were very blessed to have two special pets.