Yesterday I get a message from my wife that her dog that she has had since she was 16 has been having seizures off and on for most of the night and now most of the day. When she is not having seizures she is shaking (scared), having difficulty breathing, and cannot walk more than about 15 feet before collapsing and it is time to call the vet and schedule her final appointment. We had known this day would be coming as she has been going down hill health wise recently and she was around 19 years old. She had her first seizure three and a half years ago and that was when we discovered she had developed a minor heart murmur and a small tumor on her chest.
I first met Marina when my wife's mom brought her over to her apartment for a visit one of the times I was over. It was also the first time I met my wife's mom Lou. I don't know if this was something she had planned, but it was also the introduction into meeting her giant family. My wife is the middle of 9 children and comes from a large family. One of the things my wife used to judge dates on was how they treated animals and especially dogs. The first thing that I usually do when I see a dog is offer it the back of my hand to smell, then I try to pet and play with it!
After having dated awhile it was finally time to take the next big step and introduce our two dogs to each other. Her schipperke and my rottweiler. My dog was only supposed to stay at our house for a few nights as my aunts friend had him at an apartment that allowed dogs up to 45 which he quickly exceeded and they gave them the option of getting rid of the dog or moving out. So a few weeks later I was getting his shots and registering him. He was a giant of a dog and looked very menacing, but was just a giant teddy bear. He at his biggest when we were walking everyday and playing fetch with his "stick" (a firewood log) was 128 pounds of muscle and drool. When I used to answer the door for solicitors he used to lay down beside me and as soon as they saw him they would freak out and run the other way. When I would invite people in he used to terrify people because he would come running straight at them with his jowls flapping and drolling as he ran flopping over on their feet tongue hanging out the side of his mouth belly up to them waiting for his belly rubs.
Now as for Marina she was rescued by my wife obviously, but she was dumped for being the runt of a litter, and probably dumped for not being able to be sold. My wife would find her at her summer job where she worked at the marina at one of the local lakes. She would find the sad small dog shaking under one of the garbage cans having just spending the night there after a bad storm overnight. This would be something she would never get over and something we would have to help her with every bad thunderstorm going forward. She took her into the marina and kept her under the register and let her get comfortable in an unused life preserver. She would take her home and bring her back for the next two summers as she became a dock dog helping to keep the geese and other birds off the dock and following my wife around the dock. She was happiest just being close to my wife and chasing down the geese.
Back to the day we introduced our dogs to each other was mostly a non event. We were really worried about it because neither of us wanted to re home our dog to be able to live together and in the end they never had a problem. They didn't necessarily like or enjoy each other, but they were able to live together without issue. Introducing little pink monsters was another story though. At this point I had become very sedentary and so had my dog so he had lost most of his muscle mass with me and we had both gotten a bit of a pot belly on us. However once they kids started to get big enough to knock food off of the high chair fast as lightning marina was there to snatch it up. She went from a health 12ish pounds to a balloonist 16-18 pounds. Once the kids were better about getting the food mostly into their mouths she would get back to her proper weight, but it was just funny how predictable it was that she would get so round when each child got to that toddler age.
Not to long after our first child was about a year old we would bring in our 3rd dog into the household. Bella was a puggle who had been so abused she was severely emaciated and terrified of everything especially men. Between our two dogs she found her place and eventually became comfortable with our dogs, children and part of our family.
My big dog was getting older and was not as quick and spry as he used to be. I could tell that he was starting to have hip pain ( a common problem with the breed) so we had had him on glucosamine for a bit and he was maintaining himself fairly well. That was until he got a tumor on his paw. It had grown and blistered and broken open in the span of just a few days. By the time we noticed it and were able to get him into the vet the recommended removing it and doing a biopsy, but due to his age they wanted to take an x-ray of his lungs first. I will never forget seeing the films from those x-rays. He was more tumor than dog. When I looked into his eyes I could see that he was not just a bit slower than he had been he was in pain and had been hiding it from me. It was a heavy blow because he had been my buddy and pal since I was 15. at 26 I thought it was not fair for this to happen to such a sweet dog that had been with me through so much and who was just happy to sit next to me on the couch and watch movies. So I made the difficult decision, but first wanted to take him out for one last hurrah. I got him a few burgers and took him to his favorite park. once done we went back to the vet and I sat next to him with his giant head on my lap and i pet him and cried until he was no longer in pain.
Now I was going to need to help my wife through the same thing with Marina. I called the vet and scheduled an appointment. On the way home I picked up our daughter from school and told her that Marina had not been doing well. Our son was already home from school as he had been sick that day. We talked to the kids and told them what was going to happen that day. Both of them where around for when this had happened for Bear, but they were too young to understand what was going on. So the time of the appointment came and we asked if either of them wanted to come with us. They both declined so we had them give her lots of pets and her favorite treats. I then set them up with a movie to watch to help keep them distracted while I took my wife and Marina to the vet.
When we arrived we were imitatively taken back to a room and they explained to my wife what was going to happen. shortly thereafter the vet tech came in and put in an IV line on Marina. They brought in a thick blanket for her to snuggle up in and for us to pet her and comfort her. When they started to inject the drugs her heart beat one last big beat and then that was it. she didn't struggle she didn't panic like some dogs do during that final moment she just quietly drifted off. She was likely in the final stages of congestive heart failure. We then left and went home and ordered pizza and cried as a family for a good number of hours. We watched fantastic beast and where to find them as a family and spent time loving on our now 2 renaming dogs.
it has been a little more than a day since Marina has left this world, and it is still hard to think that she is still not here. this morning when letting out the dogs I had to remind myself that their are only two and I don't need to go get one out from under the bed this morning. It is difficult to see my daughter breakout in tears because she misses a dog that has been a part of her life her entire life. Our son is a bit more stoic or better able to hide how he feels, or maybe it will hit him latter. My wife who has her grandmother, grandfather, mother, and now dog in the last four years is now hopefully done with loss for awhile. And then there is my already dealing with depression trying to hold myself together so I can be there for my family in their time of need. I have lost it a few times over that darn dog. Over the last 12 years I have become attached to the little bat dog. I will try to find a good picture of Marina and put it in a from with her collar for my wife so she can remember her and see her. We had even used our dogs in our wedding announcement photos as the sad dog people we were. But, now both of our pre marriage dogs have passed and we must look forward. Remember the good times and the joy that they brought us and the wonderful lives they lived. It is sad that they are gone, but soon to this heartache will pass, and we/I can just look back on the good times and enjoy the memories we made with these special creatures we bring into our lives!