I Wanted A Girlfriend Not A Dog

“I wanted a girlfriend not a dog.” That is what summed-up my feelings when I started to date the woman that would become my wife. It was only compounded when this 60 pound neurotic chocolate lab named Rose that would bark at me every chance she got. If I did not let her sit between us she would bark, if I walked past the cookie jar without giving her one, she would bark, she just liked to bark at me. This went on for a few weeks, and I almost had to call off our relationship because of it. But one day I came to the door and there was no barking, instead Rose came running towards the door with her tail wagging, and she instead of sitting in the middle of the living room she slid into at the door.

From that point Rose accepted me into her family. It was a tough test, and I passed. She was already getting older when I met her, and she had stopped playing. So all I knew of her was her eccentric activities, her maladies and having to rush home whenever there was even a hint of a thunderstorm approaching. She did not make life easy, but she did make life better. I learned from her how to care for someone more than I cared for myself. With her I could no longer be a selfish she demanded your attention. She taught me to care for someone I loved when they needed my help and could not help themselves. She was and will always be my best friend.

One sad day when she was fourteen she stopped eating, and she didn’t want to go for a walk. We had hoped that this was just one of her moods, or maybe she had a sore tooth. She had been showing her years, hip dysplasia had made it hard for her to walk, arthritis in her spine made it so that she could not even wag her tail, and she had developed a lung condition that was being kept at bay with medicine. Even with all of this she had been happy, she ate, and she looked forward to her walks. So this really scared us. We took her to our vet, a kind woman who had taken care of Rose for most of her life, and Rose was a regular customer. She took Rose from us telling us to draw blood, but that is not what she was going to do. She could see from her white tongue and distended abdomen what was wrong. She did a quick test on her and found that the distention was due to internal bleeding. She could not look at us as she told us to take her to a special clinic to get a second opinion, but sadly she knew she was right.

We arrived at the Northern Virginia Veterinary Referral for an emergency sonogram, and our worst fears were realized and our vets suspicion was proven right. She had Hemangiosarcoma that had spread to most of her organs and was causing bleeding from most of them. This is insidious form of cancer that comes on fast and fatal, there was nothing we could do. They would not operate since it was a waste of time and would most likely not prolong her life or increase its quality. So they told us we can take her home and let her die, but she was in a considerable amount of pain, or put her to sleep.

While I hated myself for a long time for what came next, I never thought that it was the wrong choice we had to put her down. As my mother has the worst timing in the world she called my cell phone right as we were saying good bye. For some reason I answered the phone but could not talk. My wife did that for me. Right before they injected her into the IV she put her over the IV so that we could not see what was happening. Then she was gone. My best friend was no longer with me…

When we got home, my wife and I went into separate parts of the house, I drank, cried, and drank some more. I had to return the favor for my wife and call her mother to let her know what had happened. My mother-in-law had rescued Rose and had her for six years. My wife got her when she had to move to California for work and could not take Rose with her. That was the most painful phone call I have ever made, as she loved her as much as we did.

We told each other we were not going to get another dog. But that only lasted about a month, and then we set out not to replace Rose, but to bring to another dog the love that we provided to Rose. Three months later we adopted a 90 pound black lab female named Bella. We don’t know much about Bella, but she was found on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, she had at least one litter, and was trained to be a gun dog. She could not be anymore different than Rose, and that is just the way I want it. I love Rose as much now as I did the day she left us, but now I have found room for another dog in my heart.

Steve from VA