My Dog Is In My Locket

She was the dog my children had when they were little, their first puppy. I have had the honor of being with her, training her, and caring for her every day since we brought her home. She was a Tibetan terrier, a very calm, affectionate breed, with a bit of a “herding” instinct. She followed me everywhere I went in the house. I could always feel her slight touch with her nose, her little “tap” to let me know she was near. There are some dogs who “smile” with their teeth and mouth. She did. Never once, ever, all her life, did I ever have to raise my voice to her. She was so eager to please, she always just seemed to know the right thing to do.

She was such a mellow dog she would let my daughters bundle her floppy ears into a pony tail holder above her head, put a little “tutu” around her waist, tote her around in a backpack, roll her in a babystroller or tuck her into a crib. For all that friendliness, she was a vigilant watchdog with an unerring sense for character. If she didn’t trust someone, we learned over time, they weren’t trustworthy.

There is more about my dog and the role she played in my life. All of it is too personal and painful for here. Some times in your life, there may seem to be no one but your very own dog whom you can trust and count on for unconditional love. Countless times, she licked my tears away until the last one was gone, even this weekend, when she had so little energy left.

The “Hail Mary” two-pronged approach to attack either her tick-borne disease or lymphoma did not work over the course of 3 days. She had several good hours after she got her blood transfused, but her platelets did not rebound so she kept bleeding internally. While she felt good temporarily with her “fresh blood” for a few hours yesterday, she walked and played in her back yard with the other dogs. I was able to take lots of pictures and videos of her. She seemed very happy. But something was attacking her system and killed her platelets and clotting ability. Our last day together was “borrowed” time.

I am taking in my other dogs to run tick-titer blood panels. If any of them shows even a slight indication of exposure, what you do is put them on 3 weeks of doxycycline to kill the Lyme or whichever of 4 tick-borne diseases. My dog who died tested slightly positive this week for Erlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. I live in a woodsy area with many deer, wild turkey, skunk, raccoon, possum, and quail. For anyone who lives in a wooded area or with lots of deer, being vigilant about tick disease is pretty important. It could be that my dog had a tick bite a long time ago that caused a chronic infection that eventually caused an auto immune reaction. We will never know for sure. She had some symptoms: a little stiff-jointed in the mornings, a lump in her neck lymph gland for about a month. I pass along these details so that they might be helpful to others.

It is only a little comfort, but I know that I did everything possible to keep her in a good quality of life. In her last days, she needed a lot of care, which I was happy to give in gratitude to all the years she gave me. She didn’t have a lot of pain, but was weak at the end. When it was time, we were face-to-face as the last light left her beautiful eyes. She even had ….that little “smile.”

— Jane from Walnut Creek, CA