Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bridget 1998 - 2009

We've known for a long time that this day would come but now that it has it's much more difficult than I thought it would be. Oddly, I remember the day but not the year that Lisa and Kira brought Bridget home. It was April 1 and I think it was 1998. I do know is that Kira was still in high school. The kids (mostly Kira) had been begging for a dog for years and while I love pets I knew that a dog would be more work than I really wanted so I gave them impossible requirements. I told them that if we ever got a dog it would have to be free (why pay money for a dog when there are too many in the world already), short hair (we live in a subtropical county), and it had to be small (we live in a city and I didn't think it was right to confine a big dog in a small yard). I also told the kids that I sort of fancied Beagles. Imagine my surprise when Kira's friends dog (a beagle) had puppies. That is how Bridget came to live with us. When Bridge first came home she was spastic. She ran all over the place and if the door opened for more than a few milliseconds the dog was gone. More than once we received calls from neighbours a few blocks away who had found our dog. Regrettably I once made the comment that "I should fatten the dog up so she would slow down".

There are a few strange things about Beagles that any potential Beagle owner showed know. They eat non-stop. I was used to our cats, we just kept their food bowl full and they ate what they wanted and then stopped. Bridget ate anything you gave her and then hunted all over the floor and yard for anything more she could sniff out. It wasn't long that before my wish for a fat dog was realized. Honest, I didn't do it one purpose, she just ate continuously. The kids now blame me for making the dog fat. The good part is that it did slow her down. The bad part is that it probably exacerbated her arthritis. When Bridget was about five years old she started getting bad pains in her ankles. I took her to the vet and she told me that it was one of two things. It was either arthritis or something else that I don't remember. For $250 she would x-ray the dog and tell me what the problem was. I asked what the cure was for the two different ailments and she told me there wasn't any. I figured it was a total waste of money to find out what the problem was if we still couldn't treat it. I decided to give her Ibuprofen if her pain got to be too much. That worked well for several years.

I then put Bridget on a diet and she did lose some weight but she also gradually slowed down so she got less exercise and it was more difficult for her to lose weight. Finally, about a year ago Bridget pretty much came to a halt. She laid down continuously and it took her forever to get to her food bowl. For the last couple of months it has been so bad that she sometimes didn't even make it outside to relieve herself. It was a tough decision and I often second guess myself but we decided that it wasn't much of a life for a dog to lay on the floor all day long. Everyone was here about a month ago so we had them say goodbye to Bridget. It still took me two months to build up the guts to take her in but last week I made the call and set up an appointment for today at 4:00.

Alex and I left work early today and as we were driving home I had many, very strange emotions. We got home and Sarah and Lisa were crying and that made it worse. Sarah donated one of her pink blankets to the cause.

Alex rooted through the cupboards and found a few cans of wet dog food (a major treat for Bridget) and we let her eat all she wanted. It was a great last meal for the dog. We then picked her up and headed for the vet. The vet took about five minutes to make sure I felt good and guilty. She pointed out that Ibuprofen is very bad for dogs and that I probably gave her liver damage. I mentioned that it was her feet that were hurting and not her liver. She told me that Bridgets nails were way too long (which they were) and that surely made her arthritis even worse. I admitted my guilt but pointed out that even if her nails are cut it made no difference in how she walks. She then tried to talk me into using some different painkillers but when I pressured her she finally admitted that no matter what I did it was going to be high maintenance and I told her that we were all prepared to say goodbye and that I didn't think it was much of a life for Bridget if she had to spend the rest of it laying in the middle of the floor.

She then put a catheter in Bridgets leg and administered a sedative that allowed Bridget to relax. That was pretty much how she's looked for the last year of her life. Laying on the floor not budging. Alex and I then rubbed her as the vet administered an overdose of an anesthetic. There was no change in Bridget. She still just lay there and she died as we caressed her. It was really very sad and I felt very guilty.

We then wrapped her in Sarah's pink blanket and took her home. I had made a little coffin for her last week so we laid her in her coffin and I proceeded to dig a grave in the flower bed. The vet didn't really want me to take Bridget home. She tried to get me to have her cremated. I think she makes a commission on dog cremations. I told her we were going to take her home and bury her in our flower bed. She told me that I needed to dig the grave at least four feet deep. Yeah, like that's going to happen. With the rocks we have in our soil I would be lucky to get two feet deep. As I dug the grave I found Cyrus. He was our cat that was planted there in 1995. I left him undisturbed and put Bridget right beside him. We then had a little family ceremony. We all wrote little notes on the casket and we added Kira, Brandon and Alycia's names because they couldn't be present. We then shared some Bridget memories and Alex and I lowered the casket into the grave.

I shared how annoying Bridget was when she was a puppy. Every time I let her into the house she would make a lap around the house and literally jump over the couch. One time she knocked the lamp right off the end table. Lisa shared how much she loved how patient Bridget was with the kids when they were younger. She also remembered when Alycia was on a walk with Bridget and a big black stray attacked Bridget. She had Bridget in her mouth and Alycia was yanking on the leash trying to get the stray to let go. Finally a man came over from the park and kicked the stray until it finally let go. Both Bridget and Alycia were severely traumatized and Bridget was never really the same after that. She never barked at other dogs before that and afterward she always barked at other dogs.

For the last year or two Bridget has caught several colds and would get a very snotty nose. She would blow a lot often getting snot on everything around her. It was very annoying. One day Ben was talking to the JW's at the door and Bridget came up and blew gobs of snot on one of the ladies shoes. That was his favorite memory. Alex remembered a time when Anna was over and Bridget shoved her entire nose into Anna's mouth. That was pretty funny. Gross, but funny. Sarah remembered how one time when she was sick Bridget fell asleep with her. She also remembered how every time we would gather in a circle for family prayer Bridget would make sure she was right in the middle of the circle. She was certainly a people dog and always wanted to be with us no matter what we were doing.

Of course we all have many memories of Bridgets mutant mole.

When we were done telling stories I filled in the grave and I plan to make a concrete head stone for the poor dog. I guess the good thing is that Bridget is now pain free and running and jumping like she did ten years ago. I will miss her.


Lisa L said...

So I am in tears again. It's not the same with her gone. She really was the best little family dog. Even in all the pain she was in she was so good with Evan & Sydney also. You forgot to mention how in the last week and a half she wasn't really eating that much and would throw up a lot of what she ate. It is so very sad and I cried so much yesterday. I miss her :(

Justin, Kira and Evan said...

I keep crying! I miss her so much!

Lynn said...

I am so SORRY for everyone's loss. What fun memories. I can see now how a pet can certainly become one of the family.

Don't beat yourself up over the love and care you care your family pet, Fred. That vet certainly needs better manners.

Peter and Mandy said...

Oh man, I made it through Kira's blog with just getting a bit teary eyed, but clearly didn't make it through your's. Peter keeps talking about how much he loved Bridget, he really wants a beagle just like her. She was a great dog. She will be missed.

Lisa L said...

Even Sheba was looking for Bridget yesterday. She stuck her head in her sleeping area looking for her. That was a first! As far as the vet goes I agree with Lynn. Poor Bridget was in pain and it wasn't worth cutting her nails at the end. In fact, we didn't even bathe her her last bath because it was just too hard. Instead Sarah just brushed her. Some things just aren't worth the pain & trouble they can cause. We just wanted her to be comfortable.

Alycia Leavitt said...

.... this made me cry. I love those pictures of Bridget when she is little. You should have put up the one of me and her right after the dog attacked we both experianced! ah. I miss her so much. I wish we could have just waited until after my wedding so i could have seen her one last time.