Well, I think today is the day. Last night after he ate dinner Charlie got an attack of coughing followed by a sneezing bout – which spewed blood all over the hallway. I’m pretty sure the majority was coming from his nose, although he was coughing some up too. Today we’re going to take him into the vet. I’m so upset I can hardly work tonight. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here, would I?
I changed the header at the top of the blog to Charlie’s picture, for a bit anyway. I’m going to miss him so freaking much. It’s just amazing how a little dog can just worm his way into your heart. There’s always been something special about Charlie though, just… something. Charlie was a puppy mill dog. Raised in an outside kennel in Missouri, fed crappy food, and never taken inside or loved. Only used to breed. When he was no good for that anymore his “owner” took him to the local shelter and asked to have him euthanized. Luckily the manager of the shelter saw what a loving little guy was underneath the emaciated little body and she didn’t euthanize him, but turned him over to a rescue. I was just looking through Petfinder.com one day and there was Charlie. His picture immediately caught my eye. It was love at first sight! I’ll never forget that picture as long as I live. He had already lost the hair on his nose and he was up on a fence looking at the camera with those bright little eyes of his. Steve fell in love immediately too. In reading his story we discovered that Charlie had many health problems and they were looking for a hospice home for him. Everyone thought he wouldn’t live more than about 6 weeks, 2 months at most. The lady (Grandma J) at the rescue just wanted him to have a home where he would be well loved for the rest of his live, no matter how short it was.
So, over Labor Day 2005, Steve and I drove 16 hours to pick him up. I was absolutely dumbfounded at how thin he was. You could count every rib from 10 feet away and he was losing some hair. He had no hair on his tail and no toenails, they had just fallen out. He only had 4 teeth. I could have cried. But, we loved him immediately and brought him home for what we thought would be a very short amount of time.
We took him to our vet and found that his kidney failure wasn’t acute, it was chronic, and although he had a very bad heart murmur, with medication he should be okay for a bit longer than 2 months.
To make a long story short, Charlie has been with us for over a year and has lost most all of his hair for some unknown reason. We think it may be an allergic reaction to his heart medication, but without it he would have died long ago, how could we not give it to him? He turned into the alpha dog in our household in a hurry. If one of the other dogs had a toy Charlie would just walk up and growl and the other dog would immediately walk away. Charlie had obviously never had a toy in his life. About the first thing he did when he came home with us was gather up every single toy and put them in his little nesting area next to the piano. And heaven help any dog that even thought about taking one!
He loved to be held and cuddled, and one of his favorite things was to sit in Steve’s lap in the family room or lay by the woodstove where it was nice and warm. He was on a special diet – rabbit and potato, more medication than I am, and he almost died last New Years Eve when he had a terrible bout of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, but he managed to hang on. Until now.
I’m going to miss him so much. When I work at night I’ll go out to the refrigerator for water or pop and he’s always in his little room looking up at me with those bright little eyes. “Hey mom, it is morning yet?” I just can’t imagine not seeing him in his little room. He never did quite master going holding it all night (that happens when you live in a cage in your own waste for 7 years.), so he had his own little room that we put paper down on the floor in every night. He had half a crate lined with a heating pad to keep him warm and a toy to snuggle with. He loved to get in bed with me at night on the nights I didn’t have to work. I’d sit in bed and read or do crossword puzzles and he’d snuggle up by my feet and sleep. He was the ugliest cute dog I’d ever seen and no one will ever be able to take his place.
If you ever have a chance to adopt a senior dog, even one with health problems. Please do it. For Charlie.