Archive for October 31st, 2008

Our Shining Star

She was the greatest cattledog, the greatest big sister dog, the greatest alpha dog, the greatest kisser and the greatest daughter dog. The world become a little less bright 2 years ago when we lost Rebecca. She is the namesake for Rebecca Maye, our baby Fjordhorse. And she was the third of our three original dogs known as “The Holy Trinity”, joining our family in 1993.

The last year and a half of Rebecca’s precious life was spent doing anything and everything to keep her comfortable and happy. I hope we gave her that. She had been one of the dogs in the best shape, had never been sick, never even needed her teeth cleaned. In other words, she kicked much ass!

Then one day she was old. We’ve never felt old age itself was an illness with our animals, but we knew something was going on with Rebecca when she fainted. Talk about scary. In 2005 I was letting all the dogs out to potty and as she was walking back in she collapsed – I thought for a moment she was dead. I grabbed her and yelled for Scottie. By the time he got to us, she had come to but was out of it. That was the beginning. Many tests later we weren’t getting a concrete answer so Dr. Rick ordered up an ultrasound. We opted to do it at his clinic rather than taking her to the specialists because she loved Dr. Rick and would be comfortable as long as he held her. She didn’t even have to be sedated for the procedure – she simply kissed him as she lay upside down while the other doctor found the many problems with her insides. When Dr. Rick called to tell me what they had found (a mass here, another mass there, several small masses thataway…) he was so upset I was consoling him. He loved her as much as we did.

So, we formulated a plan; the least amount of drugs as possible to keep her comfy, only home cooked food, Chinese herbs and supplements, acupuncture and swim therapy. Plus, she was now going to be the Queen of Comfy Valley – her bed that was beside ours. She was so frail she had to be out of general population to avoid getting hurt by one of the other dogs. Ramirez and Frank bunked with her for company. We scheduled our life so she was never without one of us more than a couple hours at a time.

Some of the time I felt like a soccer mom jetting my kid off to soccer practice then basketball then the school play – but for her it was needles to jump start her qi and ease the bones and joints that were fusing.

She was always a good co-pilot in the car. I made sure she always had a great treat once she was done.

One day it was the needles the next it was swim therapy, and on and on. She didn’t like the water much but she did enjoy the massage and stretching. She soaked up the attention from the Hip Dog staff, that’s for sure. It was hard on all of us watching her deteriorate.

We were managing her internal stuff, it was the old bones that did her in. She became like an old lady with rheumatoid arthritis. All four feet began kinking in. The paralysis was moving up her spine from her back legs. She was able to walk outside slowly to potty (with a little help) up until the last 3 weeks of her life.

Every day we told her how much we loved her and what a special girl she was. We also looked to her to tell us when it was time to let her go. We were trying to comfort her but it was really the other way around. She always took care of our family.

She did tell us when it was time and it was as perfect an ending that’s ever been written. Only the four of us (Scottie, Dr. Rick, Rebecca & me) know how it felt. We laid with her for hours in the yard taking in the sunshine, listening to the birds sing and soaking up her essence. Death took her body but she lives on in our hearts.

Last night Scottie and I held an impromptu memorial service for Rebecca since it was the two year anniversary. We put a blanket down in the backyard, lit a gorgeous candle and played her song. Eva Cassidy singing “Fields of Gold” can rip your heart to pieces when you think of it as a goodbye.

It was turning from light to dark and in that moment one, solitary star lit up the sky. We sat out there for about half an hour, reflecting and crying because we miss her. That single star kept shining brighter and brighter. We both marveled at it and knew Rebecca was watching over us. When we got up to go back in the house, suddenly the sky was filled with stars. But our single, shining star remained the brightest of them all.

“When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars. And he will make the face of Heaven so fine, that all the world will be in love with the night.”

~ William Shakespeare

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