Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorialization

This month, we lost two family dogs.

On the Sunday after my sister's wedding, my mom got a call about her 15 year old chocolate lab Coco Chanel. She had a fever. My mom didn't say anything at the time but they basically kept Coco alive so my parents could return home and say goodbye. She died on Wednesday, May 18.

Coco came to live with my parents after her owners got divorced. Coco (nee Koko) was ball crazy, and even though she was meant to be my father's dog, my mom had to get out there and throw the ball to her every day, sometimes several times a day. Coco would engage you in marathon fetch sessions. If we arrived for a visit after dark, Coco would still bring us her ball in greeting. She may be the only dog who knew that the phrase, "it's dark outside" meant she wasn't going to play ball. A couple years after they got her, Coco was hit by a car. She did some back end damage but recovered.

In her old age, she developed hip displasia that was exacerbated by the accident. Two years ago, my aunt bought a pet sympathy card for my parents. But Coco kept on going with some help from my parents and the vet who chose to manage her pain. As long as the dog was eating, they reasoned, she should continue. Every once in a while, she'd fall into their pool. If it was an accident, she'd let out a poop. The time or two that she appeared to do it on purpose...none. Still it's not like she had happy control of her bowels. (There's a divide in veterinary philosophy over whether or not this should be used as a factor in end-of-life decisions.) She also paced the house like she had senility. Still, she recognized us when we visited. And up until a couple of years ago, she'd bring you her ball even if it were only for a couple of tosses. She had a fine, long* life full of ice cream, love, and balls.

Sissy rescued Belle from Seal Beach Animal Care Center where she had been brought after someone threw her out in a trash bag on the freeway. The dude and I went down with her to check out pups, but I stayed in the car until they picked out "Samantha." When I met her, she rolled right over on her back for a belly rub. She rode the hour or so to her new home in my sister's lap (while Sissy was driving!). Belle was the star of obedience class, the dog who most successfully completed "earthquake training." She stuck to my sister like glue, and when she had to stay with us, she stuck to me even sleeping in the bed under the covers. It took her a long time to get comfortable with men. In our old "shotgun" apartment, Belle would run down the length of the hallway and launch herself from the end of the hall rug over the seven or so feet of hardwood and onto the sofa. Then she'd run to our bedroom (at the other end of the hall) and jump on the dude in the bed. Back and forth she'd race. She was a funny one. My sister lived on the beach, and Belle spent her time chasing the sun; she always loved to bask in warm spots. Just after Stella came to live with us, my sister finally had Belle's DNA done: mastiff, boxer, and German short-haired pointer. When Sissy and Jersey moved in together, Belle joined her new canine family with only minor hiccups.

In March, Belle was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. The tumor was removed, and they started chemotherapy shortly before the wedding. When Mr. and Mrs. Jersey returned from the honeymoon, Belle started to show signs of illness again. Vets blamed it on an ulcer caused by the chemo. They put Belle on ulcer meds. By Thursday, it was clear those weren't working, and they didn't begin the next scheduled round of chemo. On Friday when Belle was again taken to the vet, her gums and tongue were white. She died in the arms of her people on Friday, May 27th. She was twelve.

Wherever they are now, Coco has a ball and Belle is basking in the sun. Rest in peace, furry friends.

* Labs live 10-12 years, generally.

20 comments:

Miss Quoted said...

a very loving tribute to two very loving souls.

Courtney said...

oh goodness, the passing of a pet is so hard. I am very close to that with my mini schnauzer Peyton, and I have a special place in my heart for people who love and lose dogs.

valerie said...

Lovely tribute. Sorry to hear about the pups.

Southpaw Stitcher said...

A great tribute to two wonderful family members. They look like they were a couple of sweethearts. We lost Beulah (our seventh dog) in February to kidney failure. I'm sorry for your loss.

doris said...

Poor babies. We love them so and then they're gone. It's so good to know they were happy and loved.

Sylvia said...

I loved reading about these two special dogs. I am so sorry your family lost them.

Annemarie said...

What a sweet tribute to two lovely companions. I'm sure they're having a wonderful time in doggie heaven.

Andrea said...

My heart breaks for your family. Your tribute to Coco and Sissy is very touching.
Our canine babies mean the world to us, it's just not fair that we don't get more time with them.
I'm going to go kiss on my boys. Sigh...
xox

Mouse said...

been there, still recovering .. lost my baby Bracken, spaniel of 14 years and 3mths last October .... (hugs) love mouse xxxx

Charlene ♥ SC said...

Condolences to your family. The love they shared for many years made everyone happy!

Alice said...

Even in the midst of happiness there is sadness. I'm sorry about the dogs, bless your family for loving them so well.

Caroline said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. Our animals lives are never long enough - I still miss our Madi every day.

Denise said...

I'm sorry for your family's loss. The fur-babies aren't pets. They are one of us with a fur coat. ((Hugs)) to you all.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your dogs. I was lucky to meet Coco for a few days once and thought she was sweet.

dd

Jo said...

The loss of a pet is always so sad. I am all teary at work as your comment about Belle dying in your sister's arms, brought back memories of this time last year when I held my cat as she took her final breathes.

Margaret said...

I'm so sorry about your loss. Such a sweet tribute.

Gabi said...

What a wonderful blog tribute to your beloved pets. It brought a tear in my eye.

Margie said...

It's so hard to lose a furbaby. I have a new baby myself - a black lab who is now six months old. And is ball crazy. I'll have to teach her "it's dark outside". I see where it can become useful.

Aussie Stitcher said...

It is sad to have to say goodbye to our pets. I had a german short haired pointer named Jake. He was with me for about 14 years. He was beautiful, very protective and extremely loyal.

Heather said...

Earlier on this year my Cousin had to send Bracken to Rainbow Bridge, he was almost 14 and a black lab.

Last Wednesday Brody aged 14 had to go to Rainbow Bridge to be with his brother Bracken.

They'll all be up there sunning themselves, chasing balls and having a fun time watching over us.