Abbey, Ranger

I just finished sobbing my way through “Rescuing Sprite”. Reading it made me relive having to put my own beloved dog to sleep this past New Year’s Eve. Abbey came to my husband and I when she was 8 weeks old. My husband had always wanted a German Shorthaired Pointer, a hunting dog to hunt with. It soon became evident that Abbey was more content being with us than she was learning to hunt. We were fine with this but sensed that Abbey, now 1 year old, needed a furry friend too as well as her human companions. Off to Save- A – Pet we went. Our search of the shelter led us to a beautiful, gentle soul named Ranger. Ranger was a black and tan Shepard/Rott mix estimated to be about a year old. His gentle , calm demeanor was the perfect compliment to the very energetic and outgoing Abbey. This story would not be complete without mentioning that we believe that Abbey and Ranger had already met and bonded before we found him that day at the shelter and this is how. My husband would take Abbey to a dog park near our home almost everyday. One day they came back and he told me that he now knew why he liked dogs more than most people….He said that there was a shepard mix that had been dumped at the dog park sometime earlier that day and nobody could get close to it. Animal Control was there and trying to capture the dog. Abbey must have sensed that he needed a friend and she approaced him and they began to play . Eventually, animal control was able to coax the shepard close enough to catch him. Our visit to Save A Pet was approximately 1 month after this encounter at the dog park. When we asked to see Ranger and possibly adopt him we were told by the shelter volunteers that he was dumped in a park and had been at Save A Pet for almost a month! My husband immediately thought that this handsome dog was the same poor soul that had been carelessly left alone a month earlier at the dog park. Our suspicions were confirmed after we had the required “Meet and Greet ” with Abbey before we could adopt him. We introduced them that day at the shelter and they were immediately friends. Abbey looked at us like ” hey , he’s fine I already met him before, let’s take him home”! That was May of 1999. Ranger and Abbey were inseparable, bonded so closely that I began to worry of how they would cope when either dog’s eventual death would separate them. I pushed those thoughts out of mind for 4 years. The dogs were now 5 years old. My husband and I had just returned from vacation that day and were unpacking from the trip when Abbey came bounding upstairs where my husband was as if to say “Come Quick, somethings wrong with Ranger”. He then heard a commotion downstairs and found Ranger in the middle of a seizure. We were horrified and scared and immediately took him to the 24 hour Animal Hospital nearby. Ranger was diagnosed with Epilepsy and now would need lifelong medicine to hopefully control his seizure activity. We worried how his quality of life would be affected and if the seizures could be controlled. For 3 years he did not have any witnessed seizure activity and we were thankful that the Phenobarbital he was taking was apparently doing it’s job. After 3 years with no seizures we had gotten complacent that they were not going to return. Sadly, after 3 1/2 years on medication Ranger began to have occasional seizures again which our vet assured us was a normal possiblity. We monitored them for a while and it was soon decided that the medication had lost some effectiveness so he would need a combination of 2 medications now. All through this, Abbey supported Ranger at medication time sitting quietly next to him and waiting for her piece of cheese and bread too. I think she knew that his cheese and bread contained something a little extra though she never attempted to take his “treats” away even though they shared everthing else, food, beds etc….. Ranger is still having seizures about every 6 weeks and we are told that this may be the best control we will be able to achieve now as he had become desensitized to his medication. My heart breaks everytime he has a seizure but he comes out of them quickly and looks as if to say” Why is everyone so upet?? I’m fine”. I have always thought that we would lose him first before Abbey because of his medical history but fate dealt us a cruel blow on December 3o, 2007. I had put the dog’s dinner down and noticed that Abbey was not even attempting to eat. This was highly unusual for her as she was usually the first one with a clean bowl. I tried to give her a favorite treat( icecubes) and she turned her head away. I knew something was wrong because she NEVER turns down icecubes. Then I noticed that she seemed to be breathing a little different and her stomach appeared a bit distended. I called my husband at work and told him to meet me at the 24 hour Animal Hospital because something was wrong with Abbey. She was almost 10 years old at this time and had been healthy her entire life. My husband later told me that just that day, he had been thinking about how both dogs were getting “up there in years” and he was beginning to wonder how much time was left. It was almost like a premonition I think. After arriving at the Animal Hospital Abbey was checked out and the tech told us that her gums were nice and pink which was a good indication but she would come back in 5 minutes to check her vitals again. When she returned she had a startled look on her face and said that Abbey’s condition had changed. Having to see for myself , I lifted her lip and saw that her gums were now almost WHITE!! After a quick ultrasound the vet came in and told us that Abbey had a small tumor on her spleen that had ruptured and was bleeding out. The odds were horrible that she could make it through surgery and even worse that she would live another 1-3 months as 95% of those types of tumors are usually malignant and DO NOT respond to chemotherapy. I could’n’t bear to put her through Chemo anyway but there really wasno light at the end of the tunnel for us. We weighed the surgical option that the vet gave and decided that we couldn’t be that selfish in the face of such horrible odds. Especially for an almost 10 year old dog. We decided to put Abbey to rest and at 1:45 am on 12/31/07, she took her last breath after kissing us goodbye. Later , our vet told us that she would not have done surgery on her own dog past 7 and she felt that in this situation we made the right decision. I still question the decision as the “What If’s ” haunt me. She was always such a healthy dog and even the day she died she was in our yard playing with her best buddy, Ranger. Showing no signs of illness. That’s how our canine friends are though, always putting on a happy face for us. Although the Levin family knew Sprite’s eventual death was coming, it’s still something you can NEVER prepare for EVER! In a way I am glad that I did not know that Abbey had this tumor because I could not have bared knowing but on the other hand I could have cherished our time even more than I already did had I known the end was near. That night when we got home Ranger immediately knew something was wrong and he went searching room to room looking for Abbey. I worried that he would become depressed and suffer more health issues because of his grief. Anyone who tells you that dogs don’t grieve has never had a dog. In some ways, I think Ranger has grieved more deeply than we as he lost his best friend. WE still have him. Even now, 3 months later he still goes into Abbey’s bed looking for her. I wonder if he always will be searching for her. I know I catch myself doing the very same thing more times than I care to count. Abbey, We miss you immensely but wouldn’t trade our years with you for anything!!
Mom and Dad

The picture below shows Abbey with her buddy Ranger (blk/tan dog) snuggled up together as they always were.

Jennifer from IL

abbey, ranger