Saturday, July 03, 2010
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF "THE LOU".
Photo of Afton and Louie, at home, July, 2009.
Photo of Louie with me(Lisa), hiking, Fall, 2008.
He's gone. Yesterday, Hansoo & I went to the veternarian's to retrieve our Retriever, "Louie". We were hoping to have a night, or perhaps the weekend, to take him to the park(he could not walk at all, but we thought he could enjoy the smells, and perhaps have previously "forbidden" treats(like hamburgers and french fries), and to tell him how much we love him.
Unfortunately, when we arrived at the vet's(Louie needed iv's to keep him hydrated, and our vet had kindly taken him to his own home, and cared for him there, overnight)the intravenous injections had not helped. Anemic, still filled with a deadly infection that had spread from his ears into his brain, when we saw him carried in--eyes glassy--limbs "seizing" as Dr. Mike of All Creatures Hospital put it, we knew the picnic we'd planned would not be happening, and the only blanket we'd all be sitting on, would be Louie's as we held his head, rubbed his furry chest, and told him over and over,"You're a good boy, Louie. We love you. Good boy. Good dog."
I hesitantly looked at Dr.Mike and said, "Can we give him steroids? An Operation?"
"Lisa, he's seizing up. He's dying..." He gently added, "He waited for Hansoo; I knew he'd wait for you, Hansoo."(I had been with Louie caring for him at home all week, but had taken Louie in the night before, because he kept falling, and would not take ANY type of food, or drink. I told myself the vet could somehow alleviate that).
Everyone was crying, though I summoned the will to be still, in order to keep Louie calm, as we asked Dr. Mike to make his passing a bit less painful, and he gently inserted the potion into the port already in Louie's leg.(so that Louie would feel no sting of a needle).I was fearful of looking directly into his eyes as he passed, so I closed his eyes as I began to sing to him "Lean On Me"...
(in recent days, his left-leaning body had elicited at least one political barb from me, Look, he leans to the Left--just like his mother.)
"....you need a friend, we all need, somebody, to leannnn, on."
I did not to finish that line, as Louie's eyes fluttered, and I held him tight.
Hansoo sobbed. I buried my face in Louie's still-warm-fur, and told him "We love you, Louie".
I asked sweet Mandy(vet's assistant), in an oddly calm voice, if we could get a cast of his paw.(A simple procedure for a "keepsake" of your baby).
The drive over, with Louie bundled in the very back of the SUV, was so difficult.
We'd planned for his passing to be at home, and here we were--driving home to let "Afton", our sweet German Shepherd out for a few moments.I wanted Afton to somehow "get" that Louie would not be here anymore.So,we let her see him, his head visible in the blanket in the SUV, and she approached enthusiastically with a wag, then a somewhat curious look, and several sniffs, then a slowwww backing away, as if she suddenly "understood".
She came over to me, sat by my side, and offered her head on my hand, where she kissed me, and whined, and then, like the wonder that all dogs are, suddenly looked up at me, beginning to wag her thump-y tail, as if to say "I'm here; I'm alive!"
I trotted her back to the pantry, gave her a treat, repeatedly telling her "You're a good girl.Be good. Mommy and Daddy will be back soon."
We were headed to "Paws, Whiskers, and Wags", the amazing Pet Crematory who helped us navigate through the shell-shocked pain we felt, once before, when we lost "Frisco", our beloved Aussie, in January, 2008.(See Archives, at this blog, below).
Jill was wonderful---a true professional, she offered help, then let us "visit" with "The Lou" as we called him, one last time.
I asked for scissors to clip just abit more(before we'd left at All Creatures Animal Hospital, I'd gotten a bit) of his reddish-gold fur, held his face again, and told him we loved him, that he was a great dog, "Good dog, Louie.I'll see you again,later." and his body was led away to the crematory.
While we waited(we took his ashes home in an urn; we will select a lovely Howard Miller box with room for a photo, soon), Hansoo and I looked at pictures of dogs,and read descriptions of various breeds, in "The Big Book of Dogs" in the lounge area.I told Hansoo how I'd wished I had a tape of Louie drinking his water from his water-bowl. The loud slurpping and sloshing was always hilarious, and as I told Hansoo this, he scanned through his i-phone for any videos of our doggies he might have stored.
A truly grace-filled moment, was when he clicked onto a video he'd shot,just months ago,of Louie and Afton, playing in our backyard.
A distict slosh, slurp, slosh can be heard as the tape opens. Then a Golden Retriever(Louie,of course)is seen in the lower-left foreground, dripping water, as he watches "Afton" engaging him in play.
A bit of running, jumping, boxing, and a few play-bows later, we see Afton finally sit, and Louie disengage. Hansoo is heard, saying,
"Good boy,Lou; Good girl, Aft." and the tape ends.
The running, jumping, and playing has ended on earth for Louie.
If we're lucky, we get a companion like "The Lou" to run, jump, and play with us.
And if we're really lucky, we get family and friends to help us through a loss like this.
Here's to living life.As "The Lou" did, in the moment, (with unabashed enthusiasm for squirrels), everywhere. ;)