family loss

Today we lost a member of our family. Granted, he was “just a dog”, as I often tend to say, but the loss still hits hard. Grizzly went to sleep for the last time about 7:30 a.m this morning with Tammie and I both kneeling next to him, bawling our eyes out over the big lug. About a week ago he had showed some signs of not being his usual rambunctious self. Normally whenever we gave him a treat we’d need to count our fingers to make sure we still had all of them. But by Friday he had clearly lost his appetite.

Grizzly pup

The initial diagnosis from our regular vet was that he had whipworms that needed to be treated. But as each day passed he lost more energy and became ever more lethargic. Last night we took him to the emergency vet clinic, where we discovered he was in kidney failure. Based on the blood and urine work the vet felt that he had probably been harboring a low level chronic kidney problem for quite a while that we were unaware of. That developed into an acute kidney failure accompanied by infection that put him down.

Leaving him in the care of the vets last night, we were hopeful that their efforts would get him back on his feet, knowing that even if it did, that he would face the rest of his life dealing with limited kidney function. As we left the vets office, they told us “no phone call from us is the same as good news”, knowing that the only time they would call outside of their normal hours would be to report bad news. At 6 am this morning they called with the bad news that his kidneys had shut down and there was nothing more they could do.

jump for joy

Grizzly had a good life, although it was a couple of years shorter than we had hoped. We got him and his litter mate Dakota from the animal shelter in Mooresville when they were no more than 3 months old. Compared to Dakota, I think he was probably standing at the back of the line when they were passing out genes. He always had a pronounced overbite, which we were initially worried would affect his ability to eat. He never had a problem eating. Chewing he never quite got the hang of, it took too long and got in the way of wolfing down his food. He also had bad hips, even when he was a year old I could tell that he’d have hip problems later in life, and he was getting to the age where I was expecting that his hips would limit his health. But we never anticipated that kidney failure would come out of the blue and take him away.

He was a big sweetheart, as long as you were properly introduced to him. He never bit anyone, although even when he was a year old he scared the daylights out of the electric meter reader badly enough that the utility company came out and installed a remote reader on our meter, so he wouldn’t have to come in our yard any more. Hearing his bark (especially in the dark) would be enough to scare the hell out of the most determined intruder.

My favorite moment was from several years ago when he was recovering from an infected hot spot. I had him out in the front yard on the leash to do his business. He had been on antibiotics and living in the house as he recovered, hadn’t been feeling well and hadn’t barked in several weeks. Our neighborhood is filled with dogs. Most of them are kept in their owner’s yards, a few (the most irritating and noisy) are allowed to run loose, much to my irritation. One of the local yappy dogs that a neighbor allowed to run loose through the neighborhood must have been feeling brave, forgetting that there wasn’t a fence between him and Grizzly. As he came running up into our yard yapping his head off, with the other neighborhood dogs barking their own chorus, Grizzly turned around, looked at him, and let out one of the loudest, deepest, meanest, and most earnest “get off my turf, don’t fuck with me, I’m back!” barks I’ve ever heard. Just one, that’s all that was needed. The intruder just about jumped out of his skin as he turned and flew back across the street. The rest of the dogs in the neighborhood? Silence. He was a dog of few words, but he made them count.

Grizzly: take 2

He left drool on you whenever you’d give him loving, scared meter readers, barked at geese flying overhead (but ignored ducks in our pond), barked at the full moon, howled whenever there was a siren in the distance, got regular belly rubs, and was loved.

He really was a big sweetheart. He’ll be missed.

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~ by Dave on 04/30/09.

2 Responses to “family loss”

  1. Very sad. That really sucks.
    I hope his sister’s taking it okay.

  2. I think she’s doing OK. The first couple of days she was moping around a lot, but we’re giving her lots of extra attention and loving. We had her out at Eagle Creek for a couple of hours yesterday, she got dive bombed by a chipmunk and almost caught it. 🙂

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