“Nose knows everything – My nosey girl does\” … is what I used to say to her over and over but Nose didn\’t know that she would leave this earth yesterday – January 30, 2009.
Nose came to live at our house in August of 2002 at the estimated age of 5 from Great Dane Rescue of North Texas ~ A cause my family strongly believes in and tries earnestly to support at every opportunity.
Her name then was Kaylee and truthfully I thought she was the ugliest Great Dane I had ever seen.
How\’s that for shallow?
She was large (Normal) and broad (Not) and had teats that hang down to her knees as well as the funniest ears that were cropped but wouldn\’t even stand upright. All of this made her look very disheveled.
And she was shy.
Extremely shy.
She wouldn\’t even look at me – let alone come to me the day I picked her up at Creekside Animal Hospital.
Some rescue dogs come with a story. She did not.
Though we had adopted several dogs from GDRNT we had lost them both within short periods of time and one just flat didn\’t work out so Nose was my first attempt at being a doggie foster mom for awhile.
Little did I know then how big a part she would play in my life.
Nose got her name by inspiration…my half sister Teri had a beloved dog named Nose that she recently had lost and my new foster friend was….well….nosey. This was evidenced by the fact that whenever she was around you her sniffer was in action. Overdrive to be specific. Sometimes you would feel a discreet little wetness at the back of your hand from behind and other times she was a little more obvious – eagerly \”Nosing\” you from head to toe.
Nose\’s sun rose and set with me. I was her moon and her stars and in the days, weeks, months and years to come Nose quickly became one of the gentlest, bravest, loyal and most beautiful dogs I had ever known. She also became my first \”Foster Failure\”.
There are dogs … and then there are DOGS.
Nose was a DOG and I\’ve only had one other.
If you\’ve known me for awhile you might have known Bandit my Austrailian Cattle Dog who died suddenly in 2001 from Liver Cancer after a too-short lifetime. He was never not by my side.
Nose wove herself into the fabric of my heart much by surprise.
She was terrified of everyone and everything – except me. I could do anything with her. I could lie on top of her or pull her tail or put my face in hers and it was all good.
Over the years she slowly came out of her shell.
First with Walter and then with Garrett.
She would still trot around the house repeatedly every time a stranger would appear….and finally….after many years….worked out of that as well. Treating the frequent and sometimes not-so-frequent visitors to a small wetness on the back of their hand when they weren\’t watching as she \”Nosed\” them up. Eventually she would let these strangers pet her. First the women. Then the men.
This took about 7 years until yesterday at the vets office she made sure that I knew she had done a good job in helping her overcome her fear by going up to every person in that waiting room \”Asking\” to be pet.
Nose\’s favorite place in the whole world was in the loft of our house.
She was the only dog I know who would brave a steep spiral staircase – up AND down to get to her \”Safe place\”.
She would frequently saunter back and forth behind the loft railing…peering downstairs at her subjects and domain below.
She slept upstairs on our bed and in the 2 1/2 years Walter worked in San Antonio she took his place by my side on his pillow – where she layed her head – and snored.
We spooned.
How many dogs will A) Let you spoon with them all night? and B) Like it?
Eventually as she aged her bladder became somewhat infirm so Nose was banished downstairs…gently and slowly and gradually grew accustomed to the new arrangements.
Nose was here when our son was born.
Nose was here when Walter was gone.
Nose was here when Dad died.
Nose was here when mom moved to the farm.
Nose took a road trip with me to Colorado the summer after dad died – where we took trips to my childhood homes and meadows and pondered the how\’s and why\’s of life.
Nose would walk by my side without a leash and walk by my horse\’s side when we were on the trail.
She would howl from the fence when we wouldn\’t let her come and until the end loved her car rides.
Then the day came that Nose stopped eating. This is never a good sign. After all – by all records known she was over 11 years young…..what was she thinking?!
Walter took her to the vet while I was out of town as we doctored her food with Chicken Broth. This worked sucessfully for awhile.
The vet\’s exam and bloodwork didn\’t show anything to be concerned about.
Sigh of relief.
When I returned home the Chicken Broth was working….but barely.
I noticed that her neck was hard and large. Not normal.
I took her to a vet I knew in town who specializes in \”Hard Cases\” for a sonogram.
The vet detected a large solid mass (Never a good sign) and wanted to keep her overnight to open her up and biopsy it. I asked her if there could be any positive outcome at Nose\’s age and stature or if we should just end it and spare Nose the pain and trauma. The vet thought I would like to know what the problem was and so we decided to follow her plan. I wish now that I had not – no offense to her.
She kept Nose overnight and performed the surgery. When I picked Nose up the next day the vet cracked a smile – which for this vet was the equivelant of jumping up and down.
What she found – she said – surprised her. Everything looked surprisingly normal. She stated that there was a lot of scar tissue (We had long suspected that before Nose came to live with us she had been raised to be and to breed fighting dogs – we think she was maybe crossed with a pit bull by someone breeding for size and stregnth. Sadly, that part sure worked! This would also account for her fear of humans.) and she had poked around a lot.
She did choose to biopsy some sort of \”Glandular Complex\” but it would be a few days before the lab work came back. She was fairly optimistic.
Sigh of relief #2.
When the lab work came back and on Thursday the vet called. Not good news.
The \”Glandular complex\” turned out to be a lymph node with \”Round Cell Neoplasms\” in it – which the vet said meant that some mass somewhere was draining into her lymph nodes and whatever form of malignency it was appeared to be fairly aggressive. She didn\’t know where the mass might be but suggested it might be inside her Trachea.
This would account for the swollen neck, difficulty eating and random harsh cough and clearing of her throat from time to time.
I didn\’t want to believe what I was hearing but I knew that sometime – all too soon – I would lose my friend. My child. I cried for two days straight….through the night….through choir rehearsal….through drive time traffic and through school pick up.
It was almost like Nose \”Went old\” in the space of a week.
She lost a lot of weight.
Her hips got weaker.
Her bladder got weaker.
Her spirit got weaker and she would now only eat turkey dogs.
She slept more and it was harder to get up and down from the car and the couch.
We knew what we had to do.
We believe we have such a stewardship over these animals we are gifted with and that they are so loyal that they do not deserve one minute of pain that we can prevent.
I wanted to take a \”Last Day\” to spend with her but quickly realized that wasn\’t what was best for her as every minute she lived after I knew what I knew just perpetuated MY mourning and selfishly, her pain. We helped her make one final trip up \”Her\” spiral staircase to spend the night in \”Her\” bed – while Walter graciously took the couch and gave us some alone time.
We talked. We spooned. We cried and Nose knew.
Nose still knows everything.
I held her head and scritched her ears and told her so as the vet gave her the lethal dosage that would free her from the pain of the monster that had invaded her body slowly sucking her life away.
I told her to go to sleep and that I would be okay.
She went peacefully with my face the last thing she ever saw.
As it should be.
I put down a lot of dogs and other animals being that we live on a farm and usually I\’m okay.
This time it took me 10 minutes to pick myself up off the floor at the vets office and pull myself together enough to get out the door…to fall apart again.
It was really over and I could already feel the giant Nose-sized hole that would be waiting at home.
So here we are.
I\’ve cried so hard I have no more tears and my head feels like it should be separated from my body and traded in for a new one…..the headache feels like a brain tumor.
Would I have traded a minute of our time together based on the final outcome?
Not a chance.
I loved \’My Nose\’ and maybe … someday … there will be another good DOG.
There will never be another Nose.

Shari from TX