I've been drafting several knitting-related posts over the last week, but Friday upended my plans, as life often does.
My dear canine companion Shadow went into seizures and had to be put to sleep, and I would like to write about him. I began blogging in 2005, and you readers have seen photos of Shadow year after year--he was important part of my life and a very special buddy.
Shadow came into our lives almost exactly 15 years ago. Having tried to adopt a small dog from a shelter--and having lost the pet lottery too many times, to the tears of our daughter--we found a 4-H family in rural Washington who had a cockapoo puppy available. Sorry, not available! But wait! a phone call a few days later--the woman who had purchased the puppy decided he was too large. Would we like him? Yes.
I had a soft spot in my heart for this broad-chested, sturdy, small, non-shedding, smart mix and was so happy that we could adopt one.
And thus we added another member to our family. GIngko named him Shadow because he followed her around. He has been my constant companion for all these years--I've always worked at home so he has kept me company during the day. I talked to him all the time; he gave me soft kisses and I scratched his ears whenever our paths crossed. When he was younger and more nimble he would jump up onto my chair--he would sit on the padded arm and put his front paws on my lap for a good visit.
I was the one who took him to training classes, to the groomer and to the vet. Still, he loved me.
His favorite toys: Pink Bear, a stuffed bear that he tore apart. The yellow squeaky ball that was a cat toy a neighbor gave him. I would get down on the floor to play with him--sometimes he ignored me, leaving me foolishly on hands and knees in the middle of the room.
He didn't care much for my knitting--it interfered with petting! But he left the yarn alone, for the most part, and simply chose to settle down on any knitting in progress or blocking that was available.
He hated the water and wouldn't go for a walk in the rain, no matter how often we explained to him that he was half poodle, a breed developed to hunt ducks in the water. He still nagged for a walk every day--we would put his leash on him, open the door... and he would balk like a donkey and refuse to move. We got so we wouldn't put on our shoes or jackets for this maneuver--inevitably he would then charge out into the rain! One Christmas we went to the ocean with him, and he surprised us by jumping right into a little protected inlet--he had a great time, but he never did it again.
He liked to paw us very gently to get our attention. If John was reading the newspaper Shadow would touch it softly a couple of times, and then leap into the middle of it.
He had a blanket on the sofa. Every day I would fold it and hang it on the back--he would get up on the sofa and do a little dance, pawing at the blanket until it unfolded and then leaping in circles to create the perfect nest.
Baths were a personal affront, to be fought off mightily. And he took on the appearance of a Tasmanian devil when we attempted to brush his teeth!
One wonderful day he got ahold of some Sees Peanut Clusters! I think this might have been his favorite day of his life....
He hated to see the suitcases--I developed some sneaky ways to pack without creating too much anxiety, and there was nothing sweeter than anticipating his joyous reaction when I returned home from a trip. He watched from the front window (we placed a chair there for him to stand on), and it was amazing how often he was there when the car turned into the driveway.
He was the subject of Gingko's birthday and Christmas cards for years.
He wouldn't cuddle, in general, even though he was very loving. He liked to sit on my lap--he would jump up and sit tall while I petted him. We would, however, lean against each other while we watched the world pass by from the front porch.
One year we took him camping with us, to Ohanapecosh on the flanks of Mt Rainier. He did not enjoy being there! He got very upset when one of us went into the tent, but he got very upset if we took him into the tent with us. When one of us walked away to use the toilets, the crying was loud enough to hear througout the campground! I'd anticipated that our city pup might have problems, so I'd asked the vet if there were a sedative I could give him if he got anxious. "Benadryl." So we gave him half a pill. No effect. Another half pill. No effect. Yet another. Then another. Shadow just walked in circles, crying, until he flopped over, dead to the world. "Did you kill him??? Wake him up!" So we woke him, and he commenced the circling the crying until it was time for bed. We four settled into the tent, making a bed for Shadow. He paced and paced, and we fell into fitful sleep. I woke suddenly: It was quiet. Too quiet. Shadow had forced open the tent flap and gone into the wilds! We didn't want to yell his name in the middle of the campground at night, but we couldn't hear him. Wait, what was that? The tinkle of his collar tags.... He slept in the Honda Civic with John that night, and we never took him camping again. He was an urban dog.
I took this photo a couple of weeks ago--I was going to entitle it "Why would you think this isn't comfortable?"
When his arthritis was getting bad we purchased a big dog bed from Orvis. He was uninterested until I put down one of my sweaters and an old pillow. Then his bed became his special place--a little princess-and-the-pea action made it just right.
(Napping here with some Wool Gatherings... he loved it when I lived in Seattle and had a temporary futon on the floor)
He loved to nap with us. "Let's go a nap!" and he'd jump up and head to the bedroom.
He lost a battle with a raccoon, and thereafter he was leery of wild animals. The day two deer stepped out from a yard down the block he turned to stone in confusion!
He had a bed in my office and kept me company all day long.
He was my companion on many drives between Seattle and Berkeley. He wasn't a great traveller, but he wouldn't be left behind for anything. We explored every rest stop between the two cities.... and I ate fast food in the car or in some park rather than leave him while I sat in a restaurant.
He was attacked by larger dogs two times when he was a puppy--he never was able to get along with other dogs after that. He loved people, though, and gave the softest kisses.
This selection of photos make it look like he was always sleeping! Not so, but we always thought he was cute when resting, and it was easier for the camera to catch him when he wasn't moving.
The last few years his age was clearing affecting him. His hearing was pretty much gone, and he could no longer jump up onto the sofa. We spent a lot of time lifting him up. People always thought he was a puppy, though, because he had a puppy face and was still playful at the age of 15.
Signs of some possible neurological issues were looming the last few months. His tail was often down, and I was worried in a general kind of way. Just two weeks ago I purchased a bunch of cheap rugs to cover the floors because he was having difficulty walking from time to time. Still, he was eating and drinking and he never refused his walk.
Our walks got shorter and shorter due to his arthritis, but he still loved going out--especially if two or more of us went with him! The joy of a pack. I would walk ahead while he paused to sniff some enticing smell, and then, seeing me several houses ahead, he would sprint to catch up, his ears flying and a smile on his face. It make me laugh.
About half an hour after his cheerful, tail-wagging walk on Friday Shadow had a bad seizure. Luckily I was at home and in the living room when this happened--in retrospect life was perfect: I had plans to join a friend for lunch, but the plans fell through, and I had received a phone call, so I had moved from the office to the living room--I would not have seen or heard Shadow if I had not been in the front of the house. Grace, I think--we did not fail him at the end ... I called to Gingko to soothe him while I phoned the vet. We took him to the car--he had two more seizures as we drove to the vet, poor thing. They gave him lots of anti-seizure medication but were unable to really control things--given his age and the results of the blood work, the vet assumed that he had a brain tumor--and the difficult decision was made. John was unable to join us, so Gingko and I cradled our poor little disoriented fellow as he breathed his last. The memory of his moans haunts me, and it was a relief as the medication took hold and his body relaxed.
We had an uncomplicated relationship and I miss my little buddy deeply.