Dear Mark,
I am so glad I decided to read your book, Rescuing Sprite. I finally found a common bond with someone who could totally identify with us concerning our dog’s last year of life. Unfortunately, she shared Sprite’s disease.
Shelby was a beautiful boxer not only in behavior but also in appearance. When she was almost twelve she started to show signs of aging, graying muzzle, some stiffness, etc. But to our horror one morning, we noticed an indention in her skull just above her right eye. Our veterinarian said it was a weakening in the muscle and tissue. He said he didn’t think she was in any pain and she didn’t appear to have any that we could detect. He didn’t say anything about a possible tumor.
Shelby’s appearance and health slowly deteriorated over the next year. All the symptoms of Sprite were hers. After she fell down a flight of stairs we became aware of how her sense of balance was being affected. Thinking back on that event brings tears to my eyes. My husband and I rushed to her and just held her but thankfully she was uninjured. But the sad look in her big brown eyes was so pitiful. After that we put up a child gate to keep her from going upstairs. She still had to maneuver 3 steps to go out to the yard so I put a dog harness on her for me to hang on to so she wouldn’t go down to fast.
Shelby had always slept on a special love seat but it became impossible for her to jump up on it so we removed it and made her a soft bed in the comer. Because we had hardwood floors I purchased several throw rugs to help her not slip on the floors. Eventually her pacing and circling became worse. I too would sit down with her and just hold her against me to try to get her to rest. Our one cat sensed her illness and would try to lick her face when she did lie down but often got stepped on as Shelby would suddenly stand up and start circling. This didn’t stop ‘”Knutie” because he loved that dog.
One day watching Shelby pace, lie down, get up to circle and then repeat the pattern became to much. I realized how selfish I was to hang on to her. Her eyes were pleading for relief. As I think back on the time now I pray she wasn’t in pain because the thought of that is unbearable. I guess I was guilty of loving my dog to much.
Believe it or not Shelby still wanted to go for a walk everyday. So the day she was to be put down I put on her harness and around the block we went. I had to practically hold her up as she tended to veer to the right and her pace was very slow. But I know she was happy because it was her favorite thing to do. I remember the tears just spilled out of my eyes as we made our final walk.
I had worked as a receptionist for a veterinary hospital for 9 years so was well acquainted with the doctor who was coming to our house to put Shelby to sleep. After a very tearful good-by I left Shelby with my son and husband to hold while the drugs were given.
As only fitting, a perfect, beautiful Blue Spruce marks Shelby’s final resting place. She was almost 13 years old when she died and that has been over 7 years ago. The thought of that day still brings sadness to my heart. I wish I could have just one more day with her. We are all grateful that we had such a loving, wonderful companion as part of our family.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share our experience with you. ( I had always suspected that a tumor was the cause of her sudden decline in health and your book confirmed that for me.)
Reta from Ohio