I want to thank you for pouring so much of your heart and soul into your book about Sprite. My sister found it at our local library and thought it might help me as I faced a similiar crisis with one of my beagles called Peanut. It was difficult to read at one sitting and I found myself relating to the love and anguish you and your family went through with your beloved Sprite. I’d read a chapter and have to stop because of the tears as I found myself in the same position with Peanut.

May I tell you about her? I first saw her about six and a half years ago tied up in a neighbor’s front yard. I was walking my beagle mix, Smokie, and I walked up to this little runt of a dog to pet her. She was so excited to have some attention and she climbed up in my lap. I was shocked to realize how thin she was. It was like holding a bag of feathers! The next door neighbor came out and said the girls who owned Peanut left her tied up in the sun without food, water, or shelter. The neighbor reported it to the police, humane society, and dog warden but all they did was leave notes for the owner. (Needless to say, the animal cruelty/neglect laws in Ohio are archaic.) I can’t explain it but in those first few minutes I developed a deep love for that little dog and told the neighbor that if the owners wanted to give her up, I’d take her. That night the neighbor called me and said the owner didn’t want Peanut because she was too much trouble and I could come get her. I picked her up and, in the short time she was with me, I developed a bond with her I had never experienced with any of my other animals, although I loved them all.

Then, on September 2, 2009, after Peanut and Smokie came in from their morning ritual, Peanut collapsed without warning and went into cardiac arrest. Thank God I knew CPR and was able to revive her. I called my vet and he said they’d meet at their office ASAP. I rushed Peanut there and they immediately put her on an oxygen mask. Her lungs had filled with fluid and she was in congestive heart failure. I was stunned because I took my dogs to the vet regularly and Peanut had just been there 2 days ago. I felt so guilty. Had I done something wrong? Had I missed important signs? The important thing now was to pull her through this. My vet said her best chance would be an emergency animal hospital with a vet on duty 24 hours and an oxygen tent, but he didn’t know if Peanut would survive the trip. It was over an hour away in Toledo. I rushed her to the Toledo hospital and parayed she’d make it; she was struggling so hard to breathe. They kept her for 4 days and that time was a roller coaster ride. They told me to prepare to have her put down if necessary. She’d make slight progress and then have a relapse but Peanut is a fighter and I was finally able to take her home, along with lots of medications. I was told she could go at any time but she rebounded and I had high hopes that that her remaining time with me would be comfortable. It wasn’t to be. Even though I took her to the vet once or twice a week for check ups, and she was doing fine, Peanut became very depressed and lost her appetite the week after Thanksgiving. I took her to my vet and tests showed she was in acute renal failure. The vet said her levels were so high, the machines couldn’t even register them. She had a very slim chance so I told the vet that as long as there was a chance, to do what he could for her. I visited Peanut every day she was at the vets and again that feisty little dog fought back until her kidney levels were normal and I could once again take her home. But she was never to be the same. She went for a short walk one time after that and never again. She ate very little and eventually quit eating altogether. I had to force feed her medications, she got lasix injections 3x a day, and had to be put on IV fluids once a day. Even though the IV was extremely uncomfortable, Peanut never fought me on them. It was as if she knew I was trying to help her. As soon as she’d see me setting the IV up, she’d go sit in her spot by the IV bag and wait. Peanut did have some good days but her bad days were coming closer together. She was dropping weight and seldom slept because lying down made it difficult to breathe. I kept asking the vet if I was doing the right thing. He said Peanut would let me know when it was time.

The weekend of January 22nd, I was torn back and forth. Was it time or should I give the new medication she was for her nausea more of a chance to work? Was I giving up on her to soon? Was I prolonging her suffering because I didn’t want to let her go? Was I being selfish? I was so tortured with questions and doubts about what to do but that Sunday I noticed Peanut had seemed to drop a large amount of weight overnight and she was so tired but she couldn’t lay down. She would sit up and then her head would droop, her eyes would shut and she’d practically fall over in sleep only to jerk awake again and sit back up. Her eyes had lost their sparkle and she looked so sad. That night, Peanut tried to get up in bed with me which she hadn’t done before. I lifted her up and knew it was time. I stayed up with her all night, petting her and talking to her and crying. Finally, about 4 am, she fell over asleep onto the pillows I had placed by her. They helped prop up her head and shoulders to ease her breathing, although it was labored. I kept thinking about you and Sprite on you last days together and knew what you went through. It’s like your heart is being torn out. On that Monday, January 25th, after spending my last hours with Peanut, I took her to the vet. At 4 pm, our time together was ended. I thought I’d never stop crying. Peanut’s ashes are on my dresser and, like you did with Sprite, I’m going to plant a lovely tree in her memory. I’m also making a memory album about her.

It’s been 6 weeks and I still find myself missing her terribly and having bouts of tears. But I also have wonderful memories of a feisty bundle of energy, love, and companionship packaged into a small runt of a dog who God allowed to share her life with me, even for a short time. Thank you for letting me tell about Peanut and thank you again for writing Rescuing Sprite. I doubt I could have handled Peanut’s illness, battle, and finally letting her go if you had not shared your story.

— Sharon from Port Clinton, OH