I run across so many people who are caught up short, when their dog dies. Surprised by the brevity, the love gone, the life so much shorter than our own or worse, done all too soon. I cannot say that I am any more surprised by it. It was long ago, in my life with dogs, that I realized we are only borrowing angels and teachers and that we have no control over when they go back whence they came. The most well bred and carefully chosen may live a life of weeks or months. The most random bred provide us a decade and more of love.
We do not choose. We have no control. It is more often than not, unfair. Unsurprised is not unaffected. Acknowledging the loan in no way avoids the pain. Last week, the Pyrenees puppy I rescued began to be "off", on Friday I took her to the vet. He found a repeat of her previous coccidia but not the huge load she had carried. I was left unhappy with the diagnosis, feeling in my gut that the problem was something else. On Saturday we went grocery shopping. When we returned she could barely rise. After a bit she got moving. Once in the yard she lay down. We were watching the dogs play, I was surprised by an odd cry from Naga. I found her laying flat on her side. A quick check of her gums resulted in my heart entering my throat. Gray gums is not a good sign. I gathered up the now 22 pound baby and fled to the house and phone. Of course it's Saturday and our vet is closed. We discover who he refers to and head there.
They checked for Parvo. Not Parvo. They checked for gut masses, no nothing. No vomiting, no runs. No, she'd not been exposed to toxins. I've spent almost every hour of every day with her, and when not with me she was either crated or in the kitchen, gated in. The cabinets all having baby latches. Finally bloodwork showed it, full scale near fatal renal failure. What. Not why...
Slowly things I'd put down to a truly horrific start to the world became instead symptoms of a growing problem, an-appetance, almost anorexia, I was still feeding her 5 or six or seven times a day depending on how much she managed to eat at any given meal and it was often 1/4 cup or less. Yes, that means I was staying up or getting up all night. She desperately wanted to be housebroken but needed to pee more than any puppy I'd ever had... excess urination... We'd gotten it worked out. We both slept on the couch, she'd touch me and whine when she needed out, I'd get up and open the door. Twice each night I'd also feed her. Sometimes more. We'd become woven together. Then there was the poor coat but that could be gut issues from coccidia damage, many pups with her start takes months to have their guts heal and respond properly to food. Signs all of them. Easily attributed to being abandoned poorly weaned, and with a huge coccidia load at three to four weeks, nevermind what crap they probably fed the mother. So just when I'm at least pleased that I've managed to take a five pound malnourished pup to 22lbs and growing like a weed, fate yanks out the carpet. And I'm staring at a borrowed angel lying on a cold steel veterinary table and telling her that if it hurts too much it's okay to go, that she doesn't have to stay for me. And all my experience and bravery is caacaa as tears pour from my eyes. I know and still I let my soul go, becoming part of the life of a borrowed angel.
I'm lucky she's lasted the weekend. She actually might make it. It depends on what's causing it. And I sit here realizing this one I've gotten woven in to, that whether it's now or 15 years from now this one has gotten to this stiff old soul of mine. I got to hold her today and laugh when she gave me her now infamous nose smush in place of a regular dogs kiss. I've held a few thousand as they've died, brought home the dying for the only comfort they have ever had or the last comfort they will have. I've had working dogs, and pets. I've bought good dogs and rescued good dogs. I've been priviledged to train hundreds and know their trust and friendship. I've seen them die too early whether it's early or late. They're given to us to teach us faith, to make us better people, to teach us love. It is a pity what we sometimes offer them in return. I've spent a long time trying to make it up to some of them. I will take my teachers and the inevitable pain over never having known them.
I have given her permission to leave, and I acknowledge that this is not a thing in my control and that if her time has come I appreciate what a great gift I have recieved. I appreciate the loan. I'm just human enough to hope for another day. Hug your teachers and your angels.