header

Listener Stories

Louie

My Dog was a black Poodle. His name was Louie. Louie was my very special friend. He was also rescued from the Humane Society, in Colorado Springs, where I live.

Louie live a happy and healthy life. He favorite thing was a ride in the car, he just loved it as he did going for a walk.

His last year was 2008. He had gone blind, to what degree, I don’t know, it didn’t seem to bother him. He couldn’t hear well either. Still he was comfortable and always gave me his special smile. Louie developed diabetes, I took him to the Veterinarian, and I was given a script for insulin and syringes. I also had to feed him a special diet, not unlike us humans.

I was diligent in giving Louie his insulin and he seemed rather normal for his old age. Until one day I realized that he was sleeping a lot and would not drink any water. All he wanted to do was sleep. I panicked, I really did, scooped him up bed and all and drove to the Veterinarians office.

When I saw the doctor she told me that he was suffering from the effects of his diabetes and that his Pancreas and kidneys  were most likely were shutting down. She advised that we put him to sleep. Mark, my head felt like it was floating around the room. She couldn’t mean it.

We discussed it and I was convinced that Louie was going to pass away. I was so sad. You know how I felt. I lived alone and he was my friend and he loved me as much as I loved him.

I was beside myself for weeks. My apartment was empty and cold without Louie. It took me a year to grieve and four more years before I considered adopting a dog.

– Wayne from Colorado Springs, CO

6593-Louie

 

Nellie

I had to put down my six-teen year old Border Collie/Labrador Mix, Nellie, in April due to severe arthritis and having no quality of life, and I miss her more than words can describe. Though she was our family’s dog, she mostly belonged to my eldest brother, Andrew, who committed suicide shortly after we adopted her. On the day of his suicide, my eight week old puppy, Nellie, started vomiting profusely and went limp in my father’s arms at around 5:15 P.M. She was completely fine moments before, but at this particular moment of the day, it’s like she was overcome with illness for only a few minutes. We rushed her to the vet, but as soon as we got there, she was back to her happy-go-lucky state with her tail wagging and giving kisses like usual.  When we got back home, my other brother found Andrew’s suicide letter and the police and coroner estimated my brother’s suicide at 5:15 P.M. — the exact time Nellie went limp.  I am thoroughly convinced Nellie knew, and that there is a greater explanation regarding this coincidence that this was something beyond human comprehension.

Essentially, we lost the last part of my brother when we put her down and still struggle with wanting answers to this day.  My father and I are looking in to adopting a special needs Labrador, and are trying to come up with enough funds to provide a warm, loving home to an animal in need.  We have a lot of love to give, and are doing everything we can to make this happen.

– Wendi from Reston, VA

6595-Nellie

Willy

I lost my Little Friend last August just 2 weeks after his 13th birthday, He was a Chinese Pug named Willy. He collapsed on a Saturday Afternoon while We were Camping with Friends on a Small 1 acre parcel of land  I purchased 3 years ago which i quickly named Willys Acre..After 2 trips to the Vet in the Following 5 days after his event I was advised to euthanize him, and regretably I made that gut wrenching decision on Aug 14th 2013, it litteraly sucked the life out of me and was the toughest call ive ever made in my life…Even Now I expect every morning for Willy to jump up and be at my feet when i wake up every morning.. Willy. was the only Democrat that I really ever admired , even though he expected to be fed daily and laid around and slept for hours , basicly he Did nothing (thats why i figured he was a democrat at heart lol), Willy had a purpose, he had a Job, and he was just great at being Willy, he was humorous, loyal, and provided 13 years of pure Joy in my life, I cherished him more than I do many People whom ive met in my life,and I can say that with  complete honesty…The way Ive dealt with my grief is I had a memorial sticker of my dog made up and it is on all my vehicles, plus ive got a Memorial tShirt made with several great willy shots on it.. This Spring I will bury his ashes on Willys Acre and make him a Small Memorial there, He spent a good part of the last 3 summers there where he was able to wander around with no worries what so ever, he had a great life..He went everywhere I went for the better part of his life. I could tell many many great stories about Willy but it would take far far to long, As for now I am refraining from getting another Pug, but I know eventually I will have to get another one, they are Great Dogs.. I miss my dog , but I know he can never be replaced.. As for Now I guess ill have to tend to Willys Acre with out him, but Someday I know Ill get a  chance to have another one.. Willy was the Best $275 i ever invested in my life, I wouldnt have sold him for a million dollars, seriously, he (Willy)had more to offer society then half of the Loons who are wandering the Globe now days.. People could lreally learn alot about life from Dogs if they really just sat back and observed them and interacted with them, Dogs Really are BETTER than Many human beings out there…thats just a fact plain and simple…

– Doug from Ellennsburg, WA
6598-Willy_Relaxing

Tango

One day, I believe near Butterfly Beach, I spotted a couple of young ladies walking 2 or 3 Jack Russells and I jogged over to meet them. (Dena has her own compelling story about that.. read on)  As it happens, one of the ladies was Dena, and she asked  if I might be interested in adopting a 2 1/2 year old JRT that was available in Texas.  I agreed to consider it, and we made a date to meet at the Bath House in Santa Barbara to see the Jack when she got back from TX.   This seemed a bit ironic, as the Bath House was the last place Beau set paw before being euthanized at White Pet’s Hospital some 2+ years earlier.

When I first saw the dog, I was somewhat taken aback by his size and energy. I was expecting a somewhat smaller, more docile dog, but that wasn’t Tango. Dena said at the terminal, or on the flight, Tango escaped, and was walking around covered by his carrying sack. Definitely a born crowd pleaser.  She also warned to keep him away from cats, as he had allegedly killed one.  And it’s true… he would immediately go for any cat he saw.  I signed papers and paid Dena a small fee for the dog and we parted company. I immediately took Tango for a walk from the Bath House to State Street and a ways past the 101, where I turned back.  The entire journey was an endless struggle wrestling with this over-exuberant dog.  Tango pooped on the sidewalk several times in his excitement.  We ran into my friend Dave Schrader, who was quite amused by Tango’s repeated bouncing up to greet him.

I was told the dog liked to hump pillows or blankets, and sure enough, despite being neutered, to everyone’s amusement and/or embarrassment, that was something he practiced until very late in his life.  Grab that pillow bee-ach by the neck and hump. I was also told he liked taking showers, and though it seemed the first few showers I took, he was tempted to join me, he never actually made that a practice.  Though he always seemed to get excited when I took a shower.  Even at the last, he’d run back and forth, and watch excitedly as I stepped in.

When I first brought Tango home to my ranch at 1098 Toro Canyon Road in Santa Barbara, I didn’t trust him to stick around.  So for the first week I either kept him locked inside my mobile home or tied to my belt while I performed my ranch chores.  Finally, I decided a week was enough, and cut him loose.  Though he was free to roam, he stayed fairly close by (within 100 yards) and typically followed me around the ranch. However,  at least once I had to chase him down, running at top speed, a half mile from home with my motorcycle.  Like Underdog and Beau before him, Tango would run ahead of my truck, while commuting on the mile long private ranch driveway.  On one such occasion, unbeknownst to Tango, a coyote started chasing him. Just before the coyote was about to grab Tango’s neck, I honked my horn and the coyote veered off into the brush with Tango now in hot pursuit.

As it happens, I had a mental breakdown in February of 2001, that lasted for 3 or 4 years.  OCD the shrinks said it was, and it was genuinely tormenting.  I acted out suicide by revolver on a few occasions.  I can’t say Tango stopped me.. in fact he seemed indifferent, if not avoiding me. I can’t say, either, responsibility for Tango or thoughts of my family stopped me from following through, though they may have been a mild deterrent.  The truth was, I didn’t want to die and I wasn’t going to kill myself.

My mental state continued to deteriorate after I got Tango in May 2001. He was likely helpful, but not enough to stop the decline.   I tried therapy and anti depressant drugs.  They didn’t seem to work, and on 9-9-2001, I decided to try alcohol after being sober since March 18, 1983, 18 + years.   Of course that didn’t work either and by Christmas 2002, I was ready for rehab.  I spent 4 days there (priceless experience/amazing/brilliant “classmates”), while ranch resident and friend Todd Hasting took care of Tango. My niece Laura Harner and her husband Mark drove all the way from Phoenix AZ, to clean and organize my disheveled trailer. Sister Ginny and her Husband Harvey Ruffin  also on hand, as well as good friend Corey Welles.  I only mention my breakdown to say, through it all, Tango was loyal and tolerant and provided me vital companionship, if not a cure.

A near tragedy occurred just a few month after I got Tango. A good friend, Ken Kalb, tried to interest me in golf.  He loaned me clubs and we went to Tee Time in Carpinteria a few times to practice.  On one occasion it was quite warm, so I left Tango in the car with the windows open and the hatchback ajar.  I tied Tango to the steering wheel, so he wouldn’t escape.  I considered the possibility of a hanging accident, but I’d done this before without incident, and it didn’t seem at all likely, or even possible, he’d try to wiggle out the hatchback. We were only driving balls for about 10 minutes when I needed to pee. We were about half way between the restrooms and the bushes.  I considered both and opted for the restroom in a close decision.  As I walked towards the restrooms, to my horror, I saw Tango dangling on the side of the car.  I sprinted towards him, looking for movement; any sign of life. There was none. It happens at the time I was taking Lifesaving at the YMCA and  practicing CPR.   I also knew a woman, Debbie, who once told me she revived her Beagle, by giving it mouth to snout respiration.  With these thoughts in mind, I quickly unleashed Tango and laid him on his side in the back of the trunk. He was not breathing at all. A man happened to be watching, when I first gave Tango a couple chest pumps, then began mouth to snout.  I could see his chest rise and fall with each breath. Then, hark, he kicked a bit and vomited.  I began to have hope.  I pumped his chest again and breathed into his snout. Soon, more hope and relief, as Tango began panting rapidly.  More pumps and breaths, and damn, if he wasn’t coming around.  His breathing became slower and deeper, his eyes began to focus. In less than 10 minutes, he was on his feet, tugging at his leash, looking for something to kill, like nothing happened at all.  (Note here… never leash your dog unattended if there’s the remotest chance he might hang himself.  A harness rather than a collar might be substituted, though I don’t think they like wearing them all the time.)  Being already in a state of despair, losing Tango through my own negligence, might have been the end for me.  The fact I walked back to the car when I did, if not an outright miracle, was one damn coincidence.  I’ll be thankful for that blessed reprieve to my dying day.

A funny thing happened a day or two after I revived him from the accidental hanging. Tango was in such a deep afternoon sleep, I had difficulty arousing him, so, panicked and having a hanging flashback, I started mouth to snout again.  When he abruptly awoke, bleary eyed, and not knowing what was happening, he snapped at my face.  I was startled, but greatly relieved.

After rehab, I quit drinking and slowly began to recover.  Mid 2004 I sold my ranch and moved to Rancho Granada Mobile Home Park in Carpinteria. I knew I would have to make up for Tango’s free range at the ranch with at least one or two long walks a day.  Within a couple weeks I realized I wouldn’t be able to keep up with him on foot, so I bought a bicycle to keep up with him.  Typically I’d take him for a 2-3 mile walk in the morning and 5-6 mile walk in the evening.  Morning loop might be around Carpinteria Middle school, while the evening walk might be around the soccer field at the bluffs across the railroad tracks, past the Seal Sanctuary, RV park, sometimes Linden and further, back. C. 2010, there was loud noise near the park entrance as we were leaving for a walk, and it frightened Tango so badly, he refused to walk past that spot to exit the park. So, I began walking him out the back way, by Carpinteria Creek in the AM, and in the afternoon, I began to drive him to Rincon Beach for walks. Dogs are supposed to be on leash there, but most are not.  Up to this point in his life, Tango would sometimes be confrontational with other dogs. Especially big Labs, Goldens, and German Shepherds, no matter how friendly they might be. However, eventually at Rincon, he made peace with almost every dog he met.  The one very worrisome thing he did at Rincon, was bark at, and chase the horses. Fortunately, they were always well-behaved horses, who paid Tango no mind, or galloped away in a blink.  Eventually he overcame his fear at RG,  and we stopped going to Rincon after a year or so, to resume walking through the park.  But Rincon Beach was a special era in our lives.  We met many nice people and dogs there, and had many splendid runs along the shore.

Back at  RG, over time Tango’s walks got shorter and shorter.  The last few weeks, I didn’t need the bike, because he was done “sprinting” even for a short distance. Though a time or two, near the end, he’d push himself surprisingly far, as though he wanted to take a last look where he used to roam.  I nearly always encouraged these last adventures for Tango.  Still, though he might not go as far, I noticed he spent more time studying his territory with his nose.  That was interesting, because as a senior, I found myself doing the same thing. There’s more time for close study as raw ambition and strength fade.

Even near the last, as before and always, Tango would descend stairs or dismount couches/beds, like Superman.  He’d launch himself, up, up and away, with forelegs extended.. and fly though the air with greatest of ease,.. until landing nimbly on all fours.

Tango was the last dog my parents saw and touched before they passed in 2002. On her deathbed, 9-18-2001 in Henderson, Nevada, Mom reached up and petted Tango shortly before she died. Though she was embraced and caressed by her family, the only one she made the effort to caress in return was Tango.   He remained a living link to them for me.. now he’s with them awaiting me.

If there’s anything good about losing a loved one, it often changes one’s perspective, values, priorities and routines, in a beneficial way.  Temporal things become less important; time with family, friends and nature, become paramount. A more serene, spiritual side may emerge.

I reconnected with a place I haven’t been in a long time: dread, powerlessness, inevitability, surrender, acceptance.

The end of domestic tranquility: Morning’s are the worst after a loved one passes.  You dread waking up and facing another day without your friend.  But you must…and face the day bravely.  Things will get better, day by day.

– Steve from Carpinteria, CA

6599-Tango

Tara & Dixie

Where do I start to describe just how precious life is with all God’s creatures?  Having no family or children, I have always had yorkies in my life (so that I knew at least my life was not without love).  When Katie passed unexpectedly, Tara was still young (2 years) and was not used to being alone.  I had decided that Tara would be my last baby due to my age.  However, I work a minimum of 45 hrs. per week and after running errands, etc., some days  I am gone for 12 hours or more.  Tara was getting more depressed as time passed.  I decided to go thru the “puppy” thing again and started searching for a perfect playmate for Tara.  I found Dixie.  Dixie was a 1 pound ½ yorkie / ½ pomeranian ball of fur.  Most thought she was a kitten as she was such a tiny ball of fur.  Tara accepted her immediately into the family.  As she was so little, she wore a cat collar with a bell so that I could find her.  Of course the house had to be puppy proof to a greater degree as she could crawl under anything.  What a prize she was!!  She overflowed with personality and love.  She was the shining star at the vet’s office.  Every time we went for puppy shots, etc., the staff would fight on who was going to love on her first.  The neighbors around my home volunteered to keep an eye out for her and Tara during the day when I wasn’t home.  My friends would come on their day off to love on her.  She was a magnet for people.  When she turned 6 months old, I started noticing an occasional stumble in her walk. Then one day a friend stopped by and found her very listless.  As she perked up after eating, we thought it was because Tara had made a pig of herself and eaten her breakfast.  The following week I came home and found her not even able to sit up.  I fed her by hand, but she still was weak, so the next morning I took her to my vet.  They did tests and called me saying she was in critical condition and to rush her to the emergency vet clinic.  Further tests showed she had a liver shunt issue.  However, that may be fixable with surgery and meds.  However, after two days in ICU the vet still felt she was not responding properly.  More tests determined that she had several water spots on the brain.  This explained her occasional stumbling.  This complication was not fixable.  I picked her up from the vet on Thursday.  That night and Friday, her extended family all came to care and love her.  I made the last appointment for the day on Saturday so that I could spend as much time as I could before I sent her to visit and play at Rainbow Bridge.  I left the vet heavy hearted but knew I had made the right decision for that precious baby.  I could have been selfish and kept her with me and Tara for a while longer, but Dixie needed her peace, and finally she could rest.  I never had an animal that affected me or my friends the way this tiny baby did.  She may have only been with us on earth for a short while, but she left a lasting impression.  I often wonder what today would be like were she still here, but then I have to realize that is my being selfish.  Thank you for allowing me to share my brief time with this amazing little dog with such a big heart.

– Alice from Houston, TX

Jester

Jester is my almost 14 y/o staffoerdshire terrier that was put to sleep in march of 2013.

I do not believe it to be a loss. Please don’t get me wrong, I miss him more than I could ever say. I believe that if I never had him, That would be a loss.

We both learned a lot from each other. I learned the true meaning of “unconditional love” and he learned the true meaning of “trust”.

He was and always will be my best friend. I had the fortune to be able to take him to work with me everyday, we were almost never apart. He was nice enough to allow me to sleep on his bed.

It is so nice to find a forum in which there are so many TRUE animal lovers. There are too many animals in this world that are treated as a novelty.

– Robert from San Rafael, CA

6522-IMG_0954