Our 7 year old pet labrador’s death last week did not come as a shock. He had been ill for a couple of months already. We have gone to the vet quite a number of times and three times we had to leave him there so they can observe and monitor his condition closely.
It started with hind leg paralysis caused by blood parasites. Then he had kidney issues. Both the blood parasites and kidney issues were resolved, but not the paralysis. Every time he tried to move or walk, he had to drag his right hind leg. Eventually he got tired of trying. He seemed to have lost the will to move, even to stand. His pressure points began having sores and wounds which we had to clean and dress twice a day, every single day.
Maybe in his mind our dog was thinking labradors were born to run wild and free… that it goes against their nature to stay still and be immobilized by paralysis, sores and wounds.
In our minds, once his wounds are thoroughly healed, we can send him to a dog therapist so his hind leg can regain movement. Because that was the plan. We would solve the blood and the wound issues first and then we can explore the leg therapy option so he can walk again.
But how do you explain that to a dog? Does he truly understand what you are saying whenever you give him the reassurance that everything will be okay? When he looks into your eyes with that loving, doggie look of his, is he saying, yes he understands what’s happening — or is he merely trying to tell you that he is in pain?
Or is he just trying to tell you how thankful he is for the love and care that you are showing him?
Eventually the vet discovered other complications. Supplements and pain medications can only manage whatever pain he may have. The meds may make him a bit more comfortable, but they won’t cure him. We knew that sooner or later he would go. We prayed it would be later — much, much later.
Our dog never regained the energy that he had prior to his illness…Yet he had a way of showing us that he was happy and content enough just having us around him.
I guess we will never know how much physical pain he was feeling all throughout. He would cry, he would whimper, he would bark and call our attention, but the moment someone is with him, he keeps quiet. Like he just wanted company.
Much like all those times he kept us company when we were alone outside. No frills, no expectations, just silent companionship, selflessness and yes, unconditional love.
Our dog’s death did not come as a shock… but that doesn’t make it any less painful for us. Our hearts are broken just the same.
I realized recently that I wrote about him years back, when he was still a puppy. The article came out in Action and Fitness Magazine.
I was a newbie dog owner then. I didn’t know anything about dogs, I never had pets before because — well, I guess I was afraid of the responsibility and the attachment.
Thought of sharing with you said write up…
A Girl’s Best Friend
By: Betsy G. Ochosa
They say that a dog is a man’s best friend. They are very loyal and they will love you unconditionally (yes, i am still talking about the dog).
I, for one, never experienced such friendship with an animal because i never — ever — had a pet when i was growing up. Oh, okay, so maybe i had a fish. But what relationship can you have with a fish, right? (especially when their life expectancy isn’t exactly that long)
The other day, we bought my son a labrador puppy. We promised to get him one for his birthday and we searched far and wide to get the “right” one. We were directed to someone who really knows about dogs and breeds champions. After visiting her house and seeing her litter of 8, we ended up choosing the youngest of the bunch. Youngest, and definitely biggest, of them all. Welcome to our world, Mr. big, yellow, labrador puppy… We called him “Bunso” for being the youngest.
Yesterday, Bunso’s second day here, he was just content playing inside his crate… or sleeping mostly. He almost never made a sound. He only barked when he needed to go (out of his crate to do his thing… he IS well trained for a two-month old). Come early evening, my husband got a little worried that he was lethargic. He seemed too laid back for a labrador! (Though that really isn’t an issue with me because I like being stress-free and laid back…But the hubby is type A, and he knows more about dogs…)
10:00pm… just about the time we were preparing to sleep… Bunso suddenly realized he had too much stored energy… and decided to bark… and howl… and wake the whole household up. Maybe he’s from another time zone. He was just so awake! And worse, he wanted to play. He eventually calmed down after an hour of playtime.
… and stayed calm until 4:30 in the morning… and then he barked… and howled… and growled… and gave this guttural cry that seemed to sound like he was begging for someone to wake up and play with him again – or at the very least, mind him. Of course he had his way… we couldn’t risk having the neighbors reporting us to village administration for disturbing the peace at 4am.
It is almost 12 noon as I am writing this and Bunso, so far, has been pretty calm. I have to thank my helper, of course, for simply being there because I know that I won’t be able to handle this guy alone. I can only play with him while he’s inside the crate… or when someone else is holding him… and when i’m wearing jeans… I’m still a newbie puppy owner and I haven’t insured my legs yet so i won’t even attempt to pretend i know how to handle a playful giant of a puppy like this one.
But i know he already knows me. He goes to the side of his crate and lies down so i can rub his fur, and he’ll just calmly stare at me… like he’s memorizing my face– and my voice –or maybe finding out a way grab my long hair. It’s like he knows that he is stuck with me for the most part of his everyday – so he might as well know the face that goes with the hand that would feed him. When i stood up to take a walk, he stood up as well, and started howling the moment i was out of his vision.
It is a challenge taking care of another living creature. But I believe the rewards are great. Hopefully Bunso will be as loyal to me as he will be to the rest of the family. I pray that he grows up – grows old — with us, and will love us unconditionally. Hopefully, my legs will never get bitten nor scratched… And that we get to share many wonderful years and memories with him.
In time I will get to say that a dog can be a woman’s best friend, too.
Bunso was with us for 7 years. He was our welcoming committee… always the most excited every time one of us comes home. He was too friendly to the mail and delivery men that we couldn’t call him a ‘guard dog.’ Several times we would catch neighborhood kids scratching his back, petting him, as he positions himself by the gate. He was happy enough just resting his heavy head on my feet whenever I was outside. I helped take care of him, I got attached, but I didn’t mind. Because of him I experienced the joys that come with having a pet.
Yes, he showed us unconditional love.
Hopefully we were able to give him seven good years.
Bunso, April 21,2010 – June 23, 2017.
Photos are all ours. ❤ Article “A Girl’s Best Friend,” first published in Action and Fitness Magazine, 2010.