Blind dogs, ethics, money, and other considerations

If your dog has a good life, you can take most of the credit. If you dog has a crummy life, you can take most of the blame. This makes it hard to own a dog.

But why would your dog have a crummy life?

Many reasons. For example, I have a blue heeler and a miniature schnauzer. The schnauzer only asks for affection, but the blue heeler was born to run from sun-up to sundown. Until she got old, no amount of exercise that I could give her was enough. I tore rotator cuffs in both shoulders partly from throwing her ball with a throwing stick hundreds of times a week for a decade, yet I never threw it enough. This is why I will never have another blue heeler. It ain’t ethical to buy a dog who has needs that you can’t provide, but I had no idea what I was getting into. I knew she was a herd dog, but I thought that just meant she had the ability to run all day, not that she needed to run all day.

Her name is Bonnie. I named her that because she is beautiful. Last week, she stopped eating. I figured she was under the weather, but I had no idea that she was critically ill until Christmas day when she could barely stand. I took her to the emergency veterinary hospital, and they diagnosed her with autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Her hematocrit count was 10%, which was one point above being “incompatible with life.” The treatment estimate was $1,500 at the low end, just to stabilize her. Bonnie is twelve, which is the average life expectancy for her breed. She is also blind. Peggy was at work, but I knew that she would want to spend whatever it took. Still, I demurred until I called her.

Bonnie spent the next two nights at the edge of death. Yesterday, I was advised to take her home, not because she was doing great, but because they had done all they could for her. I was unable to shove pills down her throat with my arm in a sling, and Peggy had flown to North Carolina hours earlier, so my neighbors helped with the medication. I spent the next twenty hours desperately trying to get Bonnie to eat and drink, and watching for signs of respiratory distress. Her breathing was so slow that, many times, I thought she was dead. For hours on end, she would lie completely still with her eyes open. Meanwhile, my shoulders hurt; the day—like most Oregon days in winter—was cold and gray and, to top things off, I broke my glasses.

As usual, I had to drug myself to quiet the pain enough to go to sleep in my recliner last night with ice packs on both shoulders. Even then, I awakened several times to see if Bonnie was still alive and to offer her food and water. Today being Monday, I called her usual vet as soon as his office opened, and was told to bring her right over. She was looking a little better by then. With his fee, her medical bill is now at $1,900.

I’m frugal. I was raised by people who never took a dog or a cat to the vet no matter what. Then there is Bonnie’s advanced age and the fact that she’s blind. It hurts to spend the money, but I couldn’t forgive myself if I let her die without a fight. She wouldn’t let me die without a fight. But what is the limit of what I am willing to spend—$5,000, $10,000? I don’t know. I hope I never find out.

I look at pictures of how she was just a few short years ago. The second hardest thing about owning a dog is that they age so fast.

When Bonnie moved in, she weighed three pounds and, being a herd dog, she naturally assumed that she had been hired as the household CEO. Peggy was at a loss. She couldn’t bring herself to come down hard on Bonnie, so Bonnie ran all over her. I had no such problem. Our dominance struggle came to a head one night when Bonnie was six months old, and we were alone. When she took my supper off the TV tray with me sitting there looking at her, I shook my finger in her face, and she bit it—hard. Her eyes immediately got big because she realized that she had overextended. There commenced a chase through the house, which ended when I cornered her in the laundry room and slammed the door behind me. I flipped her onto her back, and lay on top of her screaming, “Goddamn you, you better never fucking bite me again you little Australian sack of shit!” She was so scared she wet herself. You probably won’t find captioned illustrations of this particular dog training technique in any book, but it worked wonderfully. True, she has bitten me since then, but it was always in some context that I could understand if not appreciate. For example, if we were roughhousing and I got carried away. That night was the last time I ever felt the need to scold Bonnie harshly. Since then, if I but raise my voice to her, she looks as if her world has collapsed.

Peggy and Bonnie eventually worked out their own relationship, but it took years. For awhile, Peggy would get exasperated and say, “Make Bonnie obey me,” but I ended that scheme pretty quickly because I didn’t want to undermine what little authority Peggy had.

I didn’t want to buy Bonnie, and we weren’t even looking for a dog when we got her, but Peggy saw her (in a pet shop window I’m ashamed to say since it probably means she came from a puppy mill), and felt that their souls were psychically bound. Coming from a decidedly non woo-woo Peggy, that was quite a statement. A few weeks later, I came home to find Peggy so angry she wanted to take Bonnie to the pound. Bonnie had gotten mad for no good reason that Peggy could see and had bitten her hard enough to draw blood. “Ha, ha, ha,” I asked, “whatever happened to your psychic bond? Ha, ha, ha.” Strangely enough, my show of compassion didn’t assuage Peggy’s anger, but time did—as I knew it would. Peggy is nothing if not loyal.

Now, today, Bonnie is on the floor beside me, and I don’t know if she will be alive this time tomorrow. I’ve lost dogs, and I’ve lost parents, but dogs are harder, partly because they’re so much like children, and partly because the relationship lacks all the emotional baggage.

Used to be that when something I loved died, I was just bummed over that one death. Now, when something I love dies, it’s as if all the deaths of everything I ever did and ever will love are encapsulated in that death. It’s one thing to know in theory that all things will die in some seemingly remote future, but quite another to understand to the core of my bones how much it will hurt when they do and how quickly that future will come. Only Peggy’s death could grieve me more than Bonnie’s.

One day, Bonnie discovered that she could carry her ball and her Frisbee at the same time by upturning her Frisbee and placing her ball in the hollow. What’s really uncanny about many dogs—Bonnie more than most—is how seemingly psychic they are. When Peggy and I go somewhere, Bonnie and Baxter (our schnauzer) always want to go too, but Bonnie knows long before we leave whether we’re taking them or not, whereas Baxter is clueless until we go out the gate. How do I know she knows? Because she sits in the corner, growls, and looks morose. Even now that she’s blind, she still figures it out in some way that I can’t imagine.

Two dogs died while Peggy and I were at the emergency veterinary hospital. I learned about their deaths from the wails of their humans. I have seldom witnessed men crying audibly in public. Peggy said the crying made things harder for her. I had the opposite response. Often, I get so lost in my grief that I feel as if I’m alone in hell while the rest of the world is going happily on its way. After all, as I move through my day, I rarely witness obvious misery. People—in offices and stores—look like they’re okay. Maybe the reason I was drawn to working in ambulances, hospitals, and funeral homes when I was a young man was because I wanted to witness grief as a way to come to terms with my own grief. I never have though.

When Bonnie dies, my world, as I know it, will end, and things will never be the same. I know this because I never get over any death of a loved one. The sorrow lessens, it is true, but all those sorrows together also accumulate, and my heart grows heavier with the years, and with the thought that Peggy—and I, but especially Peggy—only have two or three decades left. We celebrated our 38th anniversary on December 19, and if those years passed rapidly, how much more rapidly will our remaining time pass?

My heart is a sea of grief. I cannot save that which I love, no matter how much I love it, no matter how hard I try, and no matter how much money I spend.

70 comments:

lakeviewer said...

Oh, how heart=wrenching this is, and will be for a while. I'm so sorry. I believe we learn about life from living with other life.

RNSANE said...

What a touching, heartrending post. You did such a wonderful job expressing your feelings for both Peggy and this little pooch that you love so dearly. I haven't had a pet in the last 25years - since my divorce, I've rented and landlords are very anti-animals. When I visit friends with dogs, I am so delighted. My middle son, 27, and his fiance bought their first home in April and, immediately, went to a shelter and got a dog....within two months, they got a second ( so the first would have company ). I am so happy to have granddogs and am thrilled that, when I drive the 100 miles to Sacramento to visit, Taffy and Bucky greet me with enthusiam! Can't wait to have a grandchild, though!

I am sad that, soon, Bonnie won't be present in your life but, as is so evident, she will always be in your heart.

CreekHiker said...

Snow... my heart is aching for you.

kylie said...

snow,
i spent $700 this year trying to save a rabbit who really was doomed from the start. then i spent something like the same on the dog. i have no idea where the limits are but i know i have to do whatever i can.....

i had a blue heeler once and your stories of bonnie biting ring true, kimba was a snippy dog but they are designed to bite and thats what they do.

i sometimes think anticipatory grief seems worse than when the worst has happened. sorry you're hurting

big hugs

KC said...

Snow, I am so sorry. You are living my inevitable nightmare. The day we bring our puppies home I know without a doubt that they will someday break my heart. Yet, I can't imagine life without dogs. I try to savor each and every joy they bring to my life and hope that will far out weigh the eventual grief they will bring.

I know that dogs have an acute intuition so Bonnie knows you love her with all your heart and did all you could to make her life the best it could be. I hope that knowledge brings you comfort.

Bernie said...

Gosh Snow I hope things turn around for Bonnie and that she will be with you for a few more years....pets are family and the grief cuts like a knife....so sorry for all you are going through right now.
How are you doing physically? I know it's pretty rough emotionally right now but I pray you are healing as well as you can be....take care my friend....:-) Hugs

Rikkij said...

Snowdude- Them saying is true, the price we all must pay for love is grief, but I pity those that would try to spare themselves from it. Fuck money, maybe that's a lesson to be learned. That we become too frugal and put too high a value on it. Let some of it fly on the wind of hope and don't let yourself be sorry. I'm now in love with Bonnie. Sounds just screwed up enough to be accepting of me. ~rick

xinex said...

I am so sorry for the pain and for what you are going through.I will offer some prayers for your strength. Take care!..Christine

Carol@ Writers Porch/ Book House said...

You're right Snow, they are our children. I'm so sorry that you are going through this! :(

Dimple said...

I have been where you are with my well loved cat, Molly. I understand your grief, even as you fight against it. Just do the right thing.

Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. God bless you today.

xinex said...

Helloe again. I hope you are feeling better emotionally and physically.I am back again. I would like to thank you for the books you recommended. I'll go downtown today to look for them. I learned more about Natchez from reading books by Greg Iles and I want to learn more. I think its history is very interesting. BTW, you are a very good writer.....Christine

swan said...

Snow, I understand, truly I do understand. My thoughts are with you. I really do understand, my eyes and my heart ache reading this. I wish I could somehow do somthing to help words just don't seem enough.

Gaston Studio said...

My heart bleeds for you Snow, as I know just how you feel, knowing that, eventually, you'll lose Bonnie and have to deal with that grief. I still grieve for several pets that I've lost to illness over the years and find myself, on occasion, speaking their name out loud, as if they're still with me. I sincerely hope there's a doggy and kitty heaven where they go, youthful and energetic forever.

Marion said...

Oh, Snow, I so understand how you feel. When I lost my best friend/Siamese cat of 20 years, it tore a hole in my heart that will never mend. I'd never had a pet that long and plan never to love another like that one. Trust me, your aching heart will heal (a little) and you'll remember all of the fun times and beautiful memories your precious dog gave you. I worry what my husband will do when his Golden Retriever dies. It's his first real dog-friend in many years and he's as attached to his dog as you are to yours.

Know that I have you and your pooch in my prayers. I hope you are feeling better, dear friend!!! Love and Hugs and Blessings!!

Evil Twin's Wife said...

Our fur babies are like our own babies and unfortunately, they don't have a long enough life span. All we can do is make sure they are happy and comfortable until it's time for them to move on. I cried for weeks after my calico cat died. She has never left my heart (this was 1996) and I probably won't have another cat again. I know your pain. {{{Hugs}}}

Winifred said...

It is so hard knowing when to let go of our pets, they are so much more than that word implies. They do so much for us and it's the last thing that we can do for them. I have two old cats that I spend quite a lot on at the vets every month. Like you I grew up in a home where you never took pets to the vet. You didn't have the money and heck there wasn't a vet anyway.

I know the time is coming when I'll have to let go but I'm dreading it. I know we can't have another cat, it would outlive us so the house will be very empty one day soon.

I like to think that all our pets are waiting for us when we pop our clogs and we'll not have to take them for walks or clean their litter trays. Pet heaven!

Take care of yourself as well as Bonnie!

Sonia ;) said...

Awwww Snow I feel the same about Henry (my Pug)...I fully understand....That was sooooo beautiful what you about Bonnie.

xoxoxoxoxoxox

All Consuming said...

“I cornered her in the laundry room and slammed the door behind me. I flipped her onto her back, and lay on top of her screaming, “Goddamn you, you better never fucking bite me again you little Australian sack of shit!” She was so scared she wet herself. You probably won’t find captioned illustrations of this particular dog training technique in any book, but it worked wonderfully.” – Actually that’s exactly what the dog whisperer guy says to do and you did it naturally. Both myself, and Spatz have done it with Lardy a couple of times, minus the cursing heh, well mostly. It makes the dog happier to be put in its place in the pack, in as much as you should be acting like the top dog if you’re providing the food, not letting her/him run riot and rule the house. It confuses them and makes em act up. And now she’s happy as hell and acts like a sweetheart with us, whereas with my ex who has her every other week…she craps on his floor, tears up the furniture and steals his food.

I ended up in floods of tears reading this, it's such a powerful testament to your love for her.

Good luck to Bonnie and love to you all xxx

Renee said...

Bonnie is beautiful Snow and it grieves me to know of the pain that you and Peggy must both be feeling right now.

Maybe dear Bonnie will catch a second wind on this treatment and you will have even more time to love her.

She may even be able to bite you at least once again.

I'm sorry dear friend.

Love Renee xoxoxo

Bella Sinclair said...

Snowbrush, I am so sorry to learn about your sorrow. To watch our faithful loved ones struggle through pain is one of the hardest things imaginable. My heart is with you and Peggy and Bonnie.

Marion said...

You have gone through the wringer recently and I'm so sorry. Having had many dogs over the years who all died of old age, I know how heartrending it is. Dogs are part of my history. I have two now who are entering old age once again and I want to stop time.

Take care of yourself and Bonnie. I really hope she makes it through.

rhymeswithplague said...

This one will be a classic. Except for that one sentence. ...

Renee said...

Hoping that all is well.

Love Renee xoxo

OneOldGoat said...

This post hit me in so many ways . . .

Your openness in expressing your feelings about Bonnie - from your 'training which made me laugh' to her impending death which made me sob allows the rest of us to realize that these four-legged family members really are our lives. While I can visualize the death of my parents, I can NOT bear to think of the loss of my dog.

Beth aka oneoldgoat

Christine Robinson said...

Oh, Snow! I read this yesterday and was rendered speechless. I feel my most inadequate when trying to find comforting words for this kind of sorrow.

Judging for the many responses, you already know that most of your readers can empathize. My own experience with a much-adored cat a few years ago was similar to your own, only he had no chance of recovery. The agonizing decision for us was when and if to hasten an ending to his suffering.

Heartbreaking, that. Heartbreaking, yours. I'm so very sorry for what you're going through.

Christine

studio lolo said...

Even though I have nursed animals for 36 plus years, the loss of even one more is hard.
I don't know what your beliefs are or if your vet told you to hold out hope, but I believe one of the kindest last things we can do for them is to make the choice to let them go. We're not doing it to them, but for them.

Bonnie sounds like she has a firm place in your hearts forever. I'll keeo her in my prayers.

KC said...

Glad to hear you are both hanging in there. Best wishes for continued improvement for Bonnie and I hope your shoulder wasn't damaged any further. Saturday will mark a happy day in the new year.

Snowbrush said...

An update. Bonnie is hanging in there. She rarely tries to walk and staggers when she does, but she's eating again in small amounts. Josh and Ellie (my precious neighbors) come over twice a day to shove pills down her throat, and I will take her to the vet again on Saturday for blood-work.

From what little I've read about autoimmune hemolytic anemia, I've learned that it will kill her eventually, but given her age, something else might get her first, and she can expect periods of health between attacks.

If she had been in poor health when she fell ill, I would have had her euthanized. I kept my last dog alive too long. She was blind, deaf, incontinent, horribly arthritic, and disoriented from numerous strokes; and I'm resolved to never put another critter through such suffering. But, other than being blind, Bonnie was in excellent health so far as we knew.

I nearly fell in the bathtub yesterday. I only take my sling off to bathe and to let my arm dangle a few time a day (to keep the shoulder from freezing up). I naturally lifted it when I started to fall in order to regain balance, and I immediately felt a horrible pain that hasn't nearly all gone away. I'm concerned that I might have ripped the stitches out of my tendon, but the only way to know for sure is to have an MRI, and it probably isn't warranted unless the pain is still with me in a few days.

I'll tell you, these are hard times, what with Peggy gone, the weather too crappy to be outdoors, and Bonnie and me in such bad shape, but I'm quite serious when I say that I've become so accustomed to bad times that they don't get me down as much as they once did. Though ever weaker in body, I'm ever stronger in character. Peggy returns on Saturday, so that gives Bonnie, Baxter, and me something to look forward to.

December 30, 2009 12:08 PM

RNSANE said...

It doesn't rain but it pours! Convalescing must be REALLY hard without Peggy there. It is good to have neighbors you can count on. That's why I did my blog on neighbors the other day...I know none of mine and that is sad, after eight years of living here.
Be careful! No spills..surgeons don't like you to mess up their work. Look after Bonnie and may a Higher Power, whatever it is, take care of you!

Rick said...

So sorry for what you're going through. Beth and I have had a lot of dogs and they do become family. We have those that were blind, those with respiratory diseases, and those that passed on. It's a difficult part of life for us, too, as they approach their end. We just lost two dogs in a period of months and we're still not quite recovered.

So even though I know how hard it is, I recognize the tremendous sacrifice and love that you've shown. We've never had the pleasure of meeting, but I want to wish you peace and understanding in dealing with this in the New Year.

Crazed Mom said...

We have our first dog courtesy of my 21yo son who brought a 5lb bundle of adorable black and white pitbull home last July w/o warning. I've never had pets except reptiles(my 3 brothers)and got some books on pitbulls. That 5lb fluff ball is 60lbs of sleek muscle and mega attitude now. He's also a cuddle bug and sleeps on my lap or next to me on the couch during the day. Sigh. I did not ask to fall in love. I did not ask for non judgemental company as I studied for my NCLEX or during my frustrating job search...yet there he was licking my hand at just the right moment. I have lost a child, my mom, close friends. I know grief. Yet I have no idea how I'll be when Jester is gone(whether because my son moves out(HA!) or because or age/illness).

I'm sorry for your tough times. I've been through those too. One minute at a time or an hour. I send you prayers, healing vibes, peace and grace from the Seattle area.~Janice aka CrazedMom

PS~crazy is not bad. I'm a fun crazy. Hate and judgement are bad, negative, contagious.

Reuben said...

At the risk of being presumptuous, I recommend for your potential interest an article I recently read by philosopher Dan Moller entitled "Love and Death," which is partially related to your very good post. If first page doesn't fancy your attention, then ignore it.

http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~dmoller/Welcome_files/Love%20and%20Death.pdf

xinex said...

Thanks for the link, Snow! I will check it out later. I hope you and your dog are feeling better and I hope the new year will bring you more happiness, health and prosperity....Christine

JOE TODD said...

Years ago I raised german shephards loved um ( OJ and Sam ) that was when I lived in the country. Today Linda and I have a house full of Teddy Bears some of which Linda "creates" pretty easy to take care of.. Oh well Just wanted to say HAPPY NEW YEAR and thanks for sharing your world

kj said...

snow, can you feel the support from your friends here? we cannot transport ourselves to help you, help bonnie, fix a meal, lend a hand, but just like with renee, you are loved and that love surrounds you.

i am rooting for bonnie. i totally know exactly fully completely how you feel...my rosie.....

bonnie is a love. those eyes. i hope peggy returns in time for the three of you to care for one another. don't fret about your shoulder. don't.

ps that picture on my blog of all those women: i thought of you and mark and peterbie and sidney and other heart friends who are men not women and i thought i should draw you into that photo. please know that i include you in all the goodness that has found me this year. and i thank you for it.

take care, snow. love and a stratch behind the ear to your beloved bonnie.

kj

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

My heart breaks for you. Having been through this unique grief myself, I know it is the hardest one. There is something about the death of a beloved dog that cuts way too close to the bone, and you are so right, one never really gets over it. It took my husband and I a year and a half to get over losing our last dog, during which time we traveled like crazy because being home without him was just too weird. Of course, then one night at the end of that hard year and a half, we happened to look on a rescue site and saw Edward's face looking back at us. We needed each other. And the cycle begins once more.

Please know, you are in my prayers tonight.

kylie said...

happy new year, snow

Strayer said...

Hey Snow, I'm very to hear about Bonnie. That's terribly hard, to have a long time friend, faithful friend, having it rough in old age. Harder with animals. Well, it's not easy, life, especially when friends start dropping like flies around you. Friends you love. Or at least respect. All I can say is I think it's healthy to ball like a baby, rather than be stoic. Because it is sad, the whole thing, really sad and crying is in order lots of times. Good luck to Bonnie and to you. Wish you both could live forever.

Diana said...

Oh Snow, I'm so sorry to hear about your Bonnie. I went through this with our dog Willie, several years ago and it is heartbreaking. I can certainly feel your pain right now as I just lost my mother, unexpectedly, on Dec.5th. It has been a horrible time for me as well.
I know that there is really nothing that I can say to you that will help.
But again, I am sorry.
Love Di

Just_because_today said...

Heart breaking. Losing a loved one, losing a pet.
One thing I wish, is that Vets were more honest and didn't make us spend money when they know our loved ones won't make it.
But yet, we must do all we can to save them, and vets know that.

khelsaoe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
julie mitchell said...

Snow....I hope Bonnie hangs in with you for a lot longer....I have a great love affair going with my Maia too...she gives me soooo much pleasure, she's old. Grey face. Slower getting up...Great Danes aren't real long lived...It makes me sad...I so don't want to go through losing her. I've had 4 in my life and with each one I fall madly in love and say no more short lived dogs...it breaks my heart when they pass...but they bring me so much joy. There is nothing like dog love....Holding Bonnie in the light..You too...
I hope that the new surgery heals and leaves you pain free soon...It's been a long recovery for you...Pain is exhausting.
hug, hug

Sonia ;) said...

Ouch stop falling and it will be ok..Geesh..Im glad Bonnie is doing a lil better. You are not alone, just physically we or I can not be your neighbor...But we are neighbors in the sense we are friends. You going to come over to my new blog and kick me in the ass a few times a week? Ya better...

Love ya Dude
xoxoxox

Matawheeze said...

With each pet I've lived with and lost I determined not to live the heartache again, but the universe knows that the love I share with those pets is critical to my well-being. The sadness of each death is part of it too. It teaches me in ways the interaction with people can't.

How fortunate we've been to have the furry folk share themselves with us.

Mim said...

Snow - I'm just back home now and read this - and feel so much for you - yes...when we lose a dog it is so much more than an animal, it's a way of life, an awful passing, someone/something that needed you and suddenly you aren't needed. Took me years to get over losing my soul-mate dog and I'm still not over it, 8 years later.
I hope Peggy is home with you now - and that you are feeling a bit more peaceful.

Snowbrush said...

Another update:

Peggy returned home Saturday night after an enjoyable trip visiting relatives in North Carolina.

Bonnie is much better, but still weak. Her red blood cell count is up from 10% to 30% (40% is normal), but she will be on Prednisone (a steroid) for another month or two depending upon future blood tests. She is but an emaciated shadow of her former self, and I all but cry at any hint of increasing vigor.

Yesterday, Peggy spotted redness and swelling on my shoulder when I took my clothes off for her to cut my hair and give me a shower (I hadn't been undressed for two days). I immediately called the doctor's office and was told to come in immediately, and I'm now taking an antibiotic. I HAD been concerned that my pain was getting worse rather than better, and (since we caught it early), I was actually relieved that the source was an infection rather than a failed surgery. Of course, my attitude will change if the infection spreads despite treatment.

I haven't responded individually to your responses as I normally do, and I don't exactly know why. Maybe I was simply overwhelmed by your sweetness and concern. I DO appreciate all that you have said to comfort me and also all that you have shared about your own loves and losses, but it IS a bit hard for me to let it all in--as KJ the head-tuner advised that I do. I don't fault myself entirely for this, because when I have let sweetness in, I have come to believe I could rely upon it, yet it can disappear in a heartbeat just when I need it most. Experience has taught me that friends who are there for me in regard to touching things that I share often leave when I share things that are not so touching. It is often the difference between knowing exactly what to say to a hurt little boy, and not having a clue what to say to a seriously pissed-off man. I contain both, and nothing hurts more--or causes the anger to grow more--than to feel abandoned by the very people who told me that it was safe to let down barriers.

Now that Peggy is home, I'm doing what I can to help her catch up on all the work that didn't get done in her absence. So, I have not been visiting your blogs and, yet again, I feel terribly guilty about that, the moreso since you have been so loving toward me. I suppose this sort of reasonably good attention--on my part--followed by utter inattention (accompanied by guilt) will always characterize my relationships with my blogging friends. As it is, I spend more time with you than with my face-to-face friends, but since there are more of you, this still doesn't come to a lot of time with any individual. I'm decidedly not okay with that, but I don't know what to do about it either. It's just all too overwhelming at times.

Velvet Sacks said...

I came here today specifically to tell you that I finally got around to adding "blind dogs" to my list of interests on my profile page -- at your recommendation. Now I'm shocked and saddened to read about Bonnie's difficulties (and yours).

We lost a dog during the Christmas holidays (my granddog) due to anaphylactic shock following an injection. It was heartbreaking, but I realize after reading your post that we were spared the pain of watching a long illness and deterioration. On the other hand, my two dogs are 11 and 12 now, and I'm acutely aware that a situation very similar to the one you described in such vivid detail may lie in my not-too-distant future.

I've also read your updates, and I hope Bonnie continues to improve.

Mim said...

Don't sweat it Snow. Be well.

nollyposh said...

Snow this post is one of the most beautiful i have read (and i'm not just saying that because like Bonnie i'm an Aussy too! Lol!)... i know that you don't believe in such cyber siLLy talk, but close your eyes because i'm sending you a BIG cyber(((hug)))... and i know, i know, bah humbug, but i think you "got" the gift that essentially dogs are born to give... ~Unconditional love~ she gave it & you received it & now her job is done... Love to You, Peggy & the beautiful ~Bonnie~ x
oh and (Ps) ~True friends~ will love ya warts 'an all, no matter what, to tha end, just like Peggy & Bonnie do, so there! Luv from ya other Aussy mate x

babbler said...

Dear Snowbrush,
Mr. Slug and I send our best wishes to you and your pup, we have a frog we love very much who is advancing in age, (4 years) which is old for a little green swimming frog. She keeps kicking, and I am amazed every morning when I see her waiting for me to toss in some food.
Your words reflect what I always feel when I lose a loved pet, we had a very beloved rabbit that we had to put to sleep a couple of years ago.
We are with you at your time of grief, I hope you will find peace and remember that since we are all going anyway, we might as well do our best to choose to enjoy what we have left, hug your loved ones and know that Mr. and Mrs. Slug love you for being so darned human.
Love and hugs, Mrs. Slug

Kerry said...

It is a profound tie that you have with Bonnie, the raw bitter-sweetness of it comes through in your words. Is it any comfort to know that strangers like myself have felt these things too? I don't know. But I do know that when we lost a beloved dog a few years ago, it was like saying good-bye to an era of our lives; she encapsulated so much of our family life and I felt a huge emptiness afterward that I never quite got over. But I will never be dogless, despite the inevitable pain.

Debra Kay said...

Snow-listen to Bonnie and she will tell you when she's ready to go. Sometimes letting go is the last act of kindness we can perform for our beloveds-animals and people too.

Animals have no fear of death-and I know for a fact that they remain with us after they are gone. I am as sure of that as I am of anything.

Love does not know species-it's just love.

I am so glad you stuck with Bonnie all those years-so many people do not. I have a soft spot for all herding dogs-because we have created them through selective breeding-then we banish them for being what we created in the first place.

Much love for your family from MY family-me, Oliver the Parrot, 3 border collies, 3 chihuahuas and a schnauzer mix, cat, 4 parakeets, horse and 7 snakes.

Natalie said...

Snow, I am sorry for my tardiness in getting back to you. My life also is not a picnic right now.

I am also sorry to hear of Bonnie being so unwell.
In 1988, I lost my beloved Penny. We were best friends for 23 years, and I have never owned another pet since.

Pets are people too, in my opinion. Often more so, because they don't give us the same bullshit that other humans do.

Re : a comment you left on my blog.

I have been at the bottom of the heap and HATED God's guts.I truly questioned the considerable faith I once had, and daily tried to end my life. Not because i was sad, though I was considerably depressed at the time, but because I lost my belief, that there was something else 'out there'.
I NEEDED to know that we are not alone in this shit heap, this thing we call 'LIFE.

What I found was this.
Some people are sensitive and compassionate, beyond what is considered 'normal', and find life really disappointing and difficult.
Other human beings constantly dismay and disappoint, because they just don't 'get it', the way the sensitive does.
Little by little, bit by bit, I was convinced that there is great beauty and integrity in this world, though it is extremely rare.
The turning point came for me, when i experienced SO MANY other worldy happenings, that I could no longer dispute the existence of 'something else out there.'
Sure enough, it could just be my Great- aunt Elsie, thrice removed, but..... whatever, if she loves me enough to show me she is around, then that is good enough for me.
I am the biggest cynic I know, besides you.
Ask Michelle, (Truth as I Know It), she will vouch for every word I have spoken here, for she was the one who stood with me during that battle of hellish proportions.
Be open to synchronicities in your life, for they are a way for heaven to speak to us.

Much love, Natale.xx♥

Bernie said...

Snow, I am just popping in hoping to be updated on everything and was so glad to hear Bonnie is doing better. Sorry to hear you have an infection, and by now I hope the antibiotics have kicked in and you are on the road to recovery.....don't worry about visiting blogs Snow, my gosh you have your plate filled right now, am so glad Peggy is home helping you. Stay warm and continue on a road to a healthy recovery my friend.....:-) Hugs

julie mitchell said...

Just checking back to see how you and Bonnie are doing and very glad to see that she is gaining strength...and sorry that you are in pain and guilt....your readers love you and I don't think you are expected you to respond to our each and every comment...back soon..
ps...what natalie wrote...Be open to synchronicity in your life, for they are a way for heaven to speak to us....is beautiful.

Lydia said...

55 comments? You hardly need mine telling you that this post had me laughing (your training quote) and crying (the rest of it) - and feeling validated because others feel as I do: so much loss, so much loss grows like moss on my heart. My loss of a favorite cat three years ago is still raw and I weep at the cruelty of our separation. It was much harder than the death of my mother, for the reasons you expressed. Then a year after that we had to make the decision to let go of our blind Old English Sheepdog, riddled with cancer at only ten years of age. But we'd also fallen in love with him as a puppy in a pet store and we do feel that he came from a puppy mill that gave him a poor start in life, probably even in his genes. His big beautiful face remains our screensaver; I can't imagine replacing it. We did get another Old English Sheepdog after losing him. We adopted Abby from the Texas OES Rescue when she was seven years old. She's doing great and so is the Standard Poodle and I'm grateful for each and every day with them and the kitties who live here.

The infection in your shoulder sounds dicey. I'm awfully glad you got on the antibiotics.

Sweet blessings to your family circle so bonded in love.

Just_because_today said...

when I don't read from you, I wonder if everything is okay.... Hoping it is

Snowbrush said...

"I wonder if everything is okay...."

Two weeks after lying for days at the doorstep of death, Bonnie is well enough to play fetch (which is interesting to watch since she's blind) and to hump my leg. Peggy always tried to throw a wet blanket over the latter, but even Peggy can't be too harsh about it right now.

My infection is also much better. I'm still in pain, still sleeping in a chair, still worried that I'm not healing properly from the surgery itself, and still vastly annoyed that I have to carry my arm across my chest in what amounts to a fragile, bulky, and useless package; but I see the doc in two weeks and hope to dispense with the sling afterwards.

I'm up in the middle of the night (for me) because two of your blogs seemed to call for a timely visit from me two weeks ago, and I'm to the point that I can't sleep until I visit you. After all, you give so much to me.

I've been working on a post about prayer, and such posts take an inordinate amount of time because I'm ever trying to think of ways to say what I think without putting down the thoughts of those who disagree with me. I never TRY to alienate readers, partly because it's not nice, and partly because I value the participation of those who disagree with me.

Twinkietinydog said...

What an amazing post. What wonderful storytelling. I feel like I know Bonnie some. I'm very sorry she's sick, but I feel even worse for you. It must be h-e-l-l watching her round the clock, unsure as to what to do next. As for emergency vets' offices: too sad for words.
I finally realized this is a rather old post. I had seen your comment on my blog and came right over to pay my respects, but your post shook me. Slowly, I started to figure things out and I read your comment that Bonnie's better!!! What great news. :)
Ya all get well soon! Hear me? :)
Twink!

Pat - Arkansas said...

I am glad to hear (from your last comment) that Bonnie has made such significant improvement; what a blessing! Your post, especially the closing paragraph, made me tear-up.

I hope your shoulder heals in significant increments, and that you'll soon be free of such awful pain.

I'm looking forward to your post about prayer.

A Brit in Tennessee said...

Snow, my heart aches as I read this post ;(
We have all been there, letting go of a pet is one of the hardest things we are faced with. I worked for a veterinarian some thirty odd years, I have seen huge burly men, brought to their knees and crying over the loss of their pet.
I hope that Bonnie will get better, give her plenty of love, and let her know how important she is to you.
Hugs, to you both,
Jo

Wild Dingo said...

Om Dawg, Bonnie sounds EXACTLY like my late dingo, Maggie (of course because heelers come from dingoes). http://www.wilddingo.com/2007/12/09/remembering-maggie/

The same exact attitude. The same exact active forward knowledge that the other dog didn't have (like you leaving w/o her or the dogs). BTW: it was probably less psychic and more behavioral on your part. dogs like Bonnie are so incredibly alert and use scent in such ways. My dogs can tell by the jeans i put on whether they are coming with me or not. they know the difference in my clothes. when i get dressed in the morning, they smell my clothes (even if they're fresh washed) and know what activities lay ahead. routines that you do, things you say. scents that you give off by changes in your body temperature as you get ready to do something different. It's not psychic. It's super alertness in YOUR behavior and physical state (body temp, scent, etc.) She had a gift at using all those tools and making logical conclusions. Other dogs have the tools but don't make the connections like heelers or dingos or high-drive dogs.

The biting confrontations. "make bonnie obey." with a dog like a heeler or a dingo, that relationship, that's the essence of it. obedience and respect. tho trainers today would never advocate the "alpha roll" you did on Bonnie, I completely understand your position and what you were thinking at the time and why you did it. And its amazing, once you get past that 'who's boss' role, the relationship is so amazing with dogs like this.

I said the SAME thing about my dog Maggie: she was CEO of Wild Dingo. she was not origionally my dog. she was my husband's. i came into his and her life at 8 years old. she lived until 14. But those 6 with her, i will never forget. I've had many dogs. i was never so close to one as i was to her. and i believe its that heeler/dingo spirit that i myself am attracted to.

Yes, like you i believe people should give their animals and pets exactly what they need and should not get a pet that they can not support in that. but i argue you did give her everything she needed. I argue that she probably needed to rest as much as she needed to run and fetch. I argue that she needed to respect when play time was over because alpha said so. that is such a bid deal to dogs. to know their boundaries and rules and respect that play happens when it happens and it's over when alpha says so. you gave her boundaries. every dog needs those to feel safe and part of a pack and family. above all, they need that. above the exercise. above play. above EVERYTHING else, they need to feel safe and secure with family rules and boundaries. knowing what to expect within those boundaries brings feelings of safety. you gave her that.

I'm so sorry for what you're going through. It's never easy. It wasn't easy for me and my dingo.

today, i don't have a heeler or a dingo, but i do have very high drive dogs. One of which (a sibe) I feel like you, i can't give her what she wants: snow activity and sled pulling and long runs. even if i could, she wouldn't be able to participate due to hip dysplasia. Believe me, she's very happy though, as i've given her many more jobs to do, such as Therapy dog certification, and mild agility that will only help her hips. I may not own one in the future knowing the breed and what they need, but I adore my husky and would move heaven and hell for her safety and health (i have already, she's been sick sadly in Nov). but i agree, anyone getting a dog should do their research so everyone including the dog is happy.

i seriusly doubt Bonnie has anything lacking in her life with you. this post alone is enough to show your deep understanding of her needs and how much you did to satisfy them.
Cheers and a Salute to Bonnie's happiness, no matter what that may mean for her.
~wags-n-wiggles,
wild dingo

All Consuming said...

Well that's positive stuff all round, though I'm sure you're worn down to wick by now, I hope things continue thus and you and Bonnie keep bushy-tailed! Love Michelle xxx

Something Happened Somewhere Turning said...

Sorry to hear about the shoulder. Never fun.
I certainly understand your grief. The pain of losing a friend can be horrible. My wife has a cat who is 21 years old and slowly fading. It will be a tragic day for all of us.

kylie said...

i'm waiting for your thoughts on prayer.

hope youre feelin better, snow

Renee said...

I hope you are all okay dear friend.

xoxo

Rose Whisperer said...

Thank you for visiting my blog. Sorry, I have not been on lately, so I just received your post. I've enjoyed reading yours as well, and I'm now following.

Something else we have in commong - BLUE HEELERS (Australian Cattle Dogs) - I have one sitting on the bed grumbling and watching right now as I type. You might enjoy this article I wrote about Heelers on Helium:

http://www.helium.com/items/1704207-living-with-a-blue-heeler

Have a great week.
Stacey

Shadow said...

pups are a light in one's life. one i would never want to be without. even though losing them hurts so so bad...

dana said...

My 19 year old, blind furchild was going downhill. I lived for the rare moments when he thought he was a puppy again. These moments became minutes during a long day. But I was reluctant to deprive him of those minutes....then seconds...

The day we had him put to sleep, he trusted us to remove him from the vet's hands......I felt I failed his trust.

I later angrily told my husband: "I know he was supposed to be "just a dog" but I loved him SO MUCH that I would have done ANYTHING to spare him one moment of pain. And yet god is supposed to be a god of love, and yet does NOTHING for humans AND innocent creatures. FURTHERMORE" I added "we are to FEAR that loving god? My furchild NEVER had a reason to fear me and I would not have wanted him to!"

This one sentence finally made my husband understand the anger I feel towards the thought that a god might exist. A god of mercy and love. A god we are to FEAR?

I could no sooner require someone I loved to FEAR me than I could kick a newborn.

Teri said...

The more I read your writings, the more you remind me of my father. This post about your love for your wife and your dogs swept me back to being with my dad after my mom was killed.
Thank you for taking me back there. Thank you for bringing my Dad back to me, if even for a little while.