Well on top of everything, to add to the shittyness I have been feeling these past many weeks & months, we had to put down our elderly dog, Dino. This pic is of my fav man and my 2 dogs, both deceased, Harley & Dino, Winter, Osoyoos, BC, 2010/11.
Summer, farm, NS, 2014: 3 dogs and 2 motorcycles:
I am first off not a dog lover. I am a cat woman, coming to this later in life when I first bought our rural property and essentially it came with a cat if I wanted it. We thought yes, you know for the mice problem all rural properties seem to have (with some having rats as we did when we had pigs which I didn’t mind since they weren’t the huge disease ridden city rats).
I find dogs too needy, wanting more of my attention than I want or can give them. Our younger dog is particularly needy and this drives me crazy. So I don’t have a big love for dogs. I love them the way I love all non-human life forms.
We knew Dino would not be with us for that much longer. We thought this would be his last winter and what we thought his last summer. Alas spring was his time. He was 15 years old so a ripe old age.
I adopted Dino in early June 2004 after I saw an ad in the local paper with a story about a rescue of a starving husky mother dog and her 5 puppies. We thought we wanted to get a buddy for our other dog, also a rescue, Harley, also a husky cross. The rescue was a private shelter, one of many in the province. We filled out an application and soon after went to pick up a pup – which one we did not know. It didn’t matter to us. I do have some pictures of him as a pup but that was before I had a digital camera so I have to dig them up, scan and then upload – another time.
I do remember being a bit shocked at how old he was. I expected a 2 month old pup which I was looking forward to, but he was at least 3 months. I also remember he cried almost the whole way home in the car, more than an hour’s drive. I can imagine he was missing his litter mates and mom. I sat with him in the backseat trying to console him. It was better once we got him home.
The story was that his mom & pups were rescued from a private home because authorities had been alerted to starving dogs. From Dino’s first few weeks of life, he suffered food related trauma. He ended up being a very picky eater until the day he died. It was as if he needed your permission to first eat. He never dove ravenously into his food like most dogs do, at least dogs I have had while growing up. I had been able to feed Harley my first dog more or less vegetarian food or when available fish food which was great for the dog’s coat. Dino would have none of this. He needed meat or rather meat dog food. Alas I have to wonder how much actual meat fit for human consumption is actually in dogfood. Sometimes I don’t want to know. In order to entice him to eat I would always try to make some type of gravy from pan drippings or else mix in some leftover human food of the meat kind often times mixed up with some veg as in a stirfry.
Partly because of food issues but more so due to his body physique, he was always a skinny dog. I learned from an allopathic trained naturopathic vet that slim dogs are healthier than overweight dogs thus I wasn’t worried. Sometimes he was not interested in eating a meal every few days, again this was normal for him. He also wouldn’t eat much when we were away, stress I’m sure, when we had petsitters.
He was always such an obedient dog. If he was reprimanded you only had to tell him once. He was a timid dog. He so wanted to please, being somewhat fearful of being yelled at – again something I imagined that developed in those first few months of life. His midsize didn’t stop him from being dominant the occasional time, e.g. at dog parks where with my other dog, they would engage in pack mentally a few times picking on another dog. He would do this nipping thing which I did not like, fortunately never on humans, just the occasional other dog, but I knew he was not trying to actually bite or fight the other dog. It was just regular dog behaviour where they test their rank in the pack.
He was almost deaf, his sight not the best but he still had a good appetite, wanted to go on walks, wanted to be with his pack of animals and humans. Despite over 5 years of suffering from pemphigus, a breed specific auto-immune disorder (most likely Dino’s husky genes) which attacked his skin mainly around his nose from the ages of about 4-5 until he was about 10, he was in very good shape. The legacy of the meds he was on during this time, firstly steroids which caused torso weight gain while at the same time muscle wasting all over including his face, fortunately didn’t last. He certainly didn’t look good there for a while, but we finally tried a different kind of anti-imflammatory which agreed with him much more. Here you can see some raw skin from the pemphigus, a place where there would always be a scab forming and reforming:
We eventually consulted with a naturopathic vet and got some Chinese medicine, a tincture that was supposed to ‘cool’ the blood. Not sure if it worked but it was worth a try. Here you can see the scarring when it was at its worst (the dog in the middle, Shogun, as a pup probably 3-4 months old, and Harley, also no longer with us):
Sunning himself as he always loved to do
Snoozing with Yuki, our cat that thinks she is a dog
He couldn’t run anymore, instead having this odd lopping gait. He used to run like a whippet so much so I thought he must have some of these genes, or else he was meant to be a sled dog for today’s standards. Here he was enjoying the snow with Shogun. The two were not a bonded pair, Dino being the dominant dog despite his smaller size but they still had fun together:
Checking out the pig action:
On a walk with Mr. Wu, Dino was not impressed:
Here Dino is enjoying himself with Shogun in the summer, getting a cool down in our pond, something they would do regularly:
More snow, when we had one winter with a ridiculous quantity of snow as you can with the level of the snow in the window. Dino used to love lounging on this designated dog couch but when we moved the couch, for some reason it lost its appeal:
Again, crazy snow, but a preferred location for snoozing as well:
He did love to look in the distance, always mindful of critter scents and smells:
Mr. C5 has written a blog post, the impetus being Dino’s passing and looking at the relationship between dogs and humans. I’ll add the link when it is posted.
Dino’s passing has once again brought forth a time of contemplation of death and dying. I remember the 1st time I put down an animal, a kitten of all things and it just devastated me. To have that kind of power freaked me out. I didn’t like it. It felt wrong. But then it is the one way we can provide a humane death. I would much rather put down the far too numerous dogs & cats found in the world that are living miserable lives, just barely surviving, knowing it would put them out of their misery. I of course wish every domestic animal would have a life of peace with safety and comfort, but the numbers are just too high. I used to volunteer at a local spca when I was living in Vancouver, before my pet having days. I did not feel bad for the animals they put down. I do remember they once got in a load of mixed dogs (some bred with foxes or other wild canine variety), and a beautiful female just wasn’t coming around to be able to be adopted. This was in the 90s and things have progressed considerably to where fostering of rescued animals, even feral dogs & cats, can rehabilitate the animal so that it can either be adopted into a loving home or else live its life in a sanctuary, of which there are many compared to a decade ago. My dream would be to have a sanctuary but the fundraising and thus interacting with humans to do so just isn’t for me.
This time around I am contemplating the level of misery that a lifeform can withstand. This was not because of Dino being in any pain, more so to do with the prolonging of life that we can do with medical technology advancements. For those of you who believe in a higher power, namely one called god, then I am absolutely disgusted that such an entity would create life forms including humans that can withstand such suffering not necessarily causing death – what a terrible idea to enable such suffering. Why can’t it be that we have quick deaths? Is this too much to ask? It appeared that Dino suffered some sort of stroke one night last week. Yes we could have gone to the vet, got some meds or similar to keep him alive for a few more months. But the question is too keep alive for whom? For Dino or for us? We had already made the decision that with any of our pets we would not prolong life just for the benefit of us. The stroke made it that Dino could barely stand let alone walk without falling down. We knew it was time.
I miss him. I love you Dino and I will always treasure the life I had with you.