Sunday, June 17, 2012

the Stumeister...

I didn’t see it coming.

I’m a planner. I like schedules. I like to know where I’m supposed to be and when I’m supposed to be there. I used to think that I was spontaneous. I used to be spontaneous, but I'm not so much anymore. I was the girl in high school when someone said in the middle of a gathering, “hey…I have some cousins in Eastlake having a party”, I’d be the one saying, “Let’s go! It’s just 120 miles!”
That happened. My parents were not pleased.

Somewhere, somehow that spontaneous me died. Or retreated. Or maybe I just grew up. Sure, it raises its head every so often and shows itself. Case in point---sitting on the beach watching the lake waves one moment; and the next driving to West Virginia to gamble. Probably not one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Or seeing an offer on Groupon and then booking a flight to the Dominican Republic that leaves in two days. That one was a good decision.

But I do like having plans. When going on vacation I read about it and find out of the way places that only locals know about. I keep my fridge somewhat stocked just in case friends stop over and I always carry my passport just in case a flight is leaving plans? Yes. I dig them.
Not Franklin Planner plans like my brother. If it’s not in his planner, it’s not going to happen…but, you know,  plans. I like a semblance of order. It gives me a sense of comfort. And I suppose of control.
Over Easter spring break I planned to take a little trip south to the Island. You’ve heard about it before. Amelia Island…It’s my happy place. I was in need of a little happy recharge, so I loaded up the Commander and off we went. I decided to bring Sienna, my labradoodle, on this trek with us. Sienna is the perfect dog. Never barks, easy going, doesn’t shed, never complains. Just perfect. Plus she loves water, so I thought it would be nice to have her join me on my long morning walks.

The other pup, Stuey, is quite handsome, but like many handsome guys…high maintenance. He’s not easy going, barks at everything, complains a lot and is not a water dog. Taking him for the walks would be good, but I worried about leaving him alone in the cottage if we went out. I'm sure he'd ahve been fine, but I didn't want to worry about him so I made arrangements to leave him behind.
Two days into our vacation I got a call, “Have you noticed anything wrong with Stu’s breathing?” I thought about it but couldn’t think of anything offhand. We’d had a few unseasonably warm days and there was one night when he was wheezing or something a bit. I thought it might be the heat, or allergies as the trees were letting off a ton of pollen. I remember it being bedtime and here’s Stu making this ruckus.

You have to know a little background on the Stumeister. He’s an American Bulldog, looks like Petey from the little rascals, is quite the good looking dog and very well knows it. He thinks he’s Alpha but as I had a throw down with him one day, “You’re NOT Alpha. You’re not even Omega. Fact is you might not even be Gamma.” All this said whilst I had my hands on his collar standing over him as he lay on the ground belly up.

As before mentioned, he’s a little headstrong, requires tons of attention, thinks he’s a lapdog (at 110 pounds), takes up most of the bed at night and has separation anxiety.

He has started scenting my dressing room. WITH his urine.
Yes, you read that correctly.

On my stuff because I wasn’t spending enough time with him and he wants everyone within nose shot to know I’m HIS. Of course he sprayed my blazers, mostly. All the things that can’t be washed but need to be dry cleaned. IF the cleaners  can even salvage the damage…that is.
Why would I deal with all of this from a pet?

Because I love him.
As you know, I'm a sucker for handsome men. They get me each and every time...
And although part of me DID want to take him with us I felt it best to leave him at home. This way MY vacation would STAY MY vacation and not a caretaker event for my pup.
So the worried call about his breathing troubled me. Not only did I remember that one instance but Boo said she’d heard him ‘coughing’ a few times. His behavior didn’t seem changed, but there was a little something amiss…I just didn’t think that much of it.

Stuey was staying with Boo’s dad. “He was pretty bad. His gums were blue so I took him to the vet.” They did some x-rays and determined there was something in his chest cavity. Fluid, to be exact. They sedated Stu and drained several liters. Apparently this relieved the pressure for Stu and although not as rambunctious as usual, he seemed fine. Three days later he needed to have a chest tap again. I called and spoke to the vet.

“Dr. Peddi…honestly, what do you think?”

“Well…I know what you’re asking. I can hear it in your voice. It could be a couple of things…one of which is treatable and the other two aren’t.” she told me.

“I hate to ask this, but what would the potential cost be?” We’d already racked up over $2000 in expenses with the chest taps, x-rays, medication and service calls.

“Anywhere between $2000 and $6000 for surgery and if it’s the one thing I think it might be we’d just sew him back up and euthanize him….”

I had to be logical. Sidestep and leave my heart out of this decision.
This was a pet. And I’m looking at a potential 6 months of mortgage payments to maybe keep him alive?....

“Do you, may I…” I was trying to get through the words but kept choking up, “Can I bring him in to you know…put him….” I couldn’t finish. Somehow I felt as if I said it then I’d have betrayed Stuey.

“Yes, Nancy. I’ll be here this Friday. Is that ok?” she asked. Dr. Peddi is the best. So kind; so considerate.

I spent the next whole day just attending to Stuey. He had steak and cheese and all his favorites, although not much. He wasn’t eating much, but enjoyed what he did. I tried to get him up on the bed in his usual spot, but he kept sliding down to the floor. So I propped him with pillows to get him comfortable and slept on the floor with him. I would doze only to awaken with him standing over me, struggling for air. It was disconcerting to find him standing over me. Looking down, struggling for air, silently pleading with me to stay awake with him.

I was afraid to fall asleep. I kept thinking that he’d pass while I slept and although that might have been the easiest thing to happen, for me at least, I couldn’t let him go alone. The most comfortable position was that of standing with his neck extended and head slightly raised. I suppose that opened the air passages. It was painful to watch him. I wept a lot. Heck, I’m weeping now…

I stroked him and cuddled him and told him what a great dog he had been and how we would miss him.  His big black eyes looked deep into my soul seeming to understand my sorrow. He would lick my face from time to time whisking away the tears. By morning we were both exhausted. And ready.

I couldn’t watch him struggle any longer. It would have been selfish to try to keep him. I loaded him into the passenger seat and we went for our last car ride.

The clinic was wonderful . The receptionists knew why we were there and they all pushed back tears of their own as we walked by them to the big back room. They had the lights dimmed, soft music playing and a large blanket on the floor. He wagged his tail when he saw Dr. Peddi and she plopped down on the floor with us and hugged him. “Hey big fella…” she said scratching him behind the ears. “I’d hoped not to see you…”

He answered her soothing voice with a nuzzle. I felt a pang of regret for bringing him. I wondered if it was too late. Maybe I shouldn’t make this decision and just let it happen naturally. I think Dr. Peddi felt my confusion. “It’s really the best thing. You don’t want to be there or see him if he goes into duress.” She gave him an injection for anxiety. “It’s like an out of body experience this way for him…” Dr. Peddi explained.

He started to pant and had big google eyes. Big guy was stoned out of his gourd and the comical look on his face made me laugh through my tears. I thought about taking a picture of him, but didn’t.  
Big Stu went into cardiac arrest before they even gave him the final injection, he was that weak. And then, Poof! he was gone.

I hadn’t planned on returning from vacation to put down my dog.
I didn’t have it on my calendar.

Amazingly enough without him around my house seems to stay cleaner. Longer. I no longer have to put things on my leather chairs to keep him from jumping into them. I don’t have to cover my couch to keep in clean from drool or muddy paw prints. There aren’t little white hairs in all of my black clothing. My back yard no longer has worn spots from running.  The mailman no longer passes our house from fear of his bark and my dressing room no longer smells like pee.

But I miss him like the dickens.

Sienna misses him as well. She tries to tussle with me or Boo and it isn’t quite the same as it was with him. I’ve been taking Sienna down to the dog park for social hour with other pooches, but she doesn’t like the gravel they have in the fenced in area. I think it hurts her paws. She keeps running back to check with me and then looks about. I think she’s waiting to see if THIS is where Stu is…
When out for walks she always stops and sniffs the same places. I think she can still smell the beast and thinks he might be here. Or there. But is disappointed to not find him.

Boo is asking me when we’re getting another dog. I’m just not quite ready for it. Yet. I kind of like my house staying clean. I like the yard growing lush. I enjoy my pee free home.

But, I might be soon.

I just need to put it on the calendar. 
‘Cause if it’s on the calendar, then….well. I ‘m a planner, remember?
Rest in Peace dearest Stuey...4/20/12       


  1. Sorry to hear about your loss. I know it's hard to lose a pet, and the expenses are just not doable sometimes. You did the right thing. I'm sure he knew how much he was loved! Hugs!

  2. *sighs*

    I've come to enjoy your long stories, but I did pick up on the idea that this wasn't going to be one of those.

    I'm so sorry... bless his heart... and yours...



  3. .... losing a dog in that manner is kinda like losing innocence.

  4. I'm so sorry Nancy - it is such a rough thing to have to go through. Sending big hugs (from me and from our dog for Sienna). Take care.

  5. So sorry for your loss. It's always so hard to lose a pet. Stuey sounds like a wonderful guy. loaded with personality.

  6. This brought tears. We have a dog that is getting older and her behavior is changing - she lays around more, chases the ball less, seems to pant a lot - and I do not know if I'm looking for things and thus finding them, or if she is on her way downhill. I do not know what I will do when she gets to the bottom. I feel your pain, or a taste of it.

  7. I know how hard this is, having just gone through it myself a few months ago. I'll be thinking of you and sending some love to both you and Stuey. Because if nothing else, I believe that love lives forever and ever and can be felt long after we can't feel much else.

  8. Hey Nancy! Poor lad, he sounds a character. You were brave for him and with him, and I bet from where he is now, he thanks you x Indigo

  9. Truly sorry to hear about Stuey. Pets become so much more than that and when they pass it leaves a big hole.

    Hopefully good memories will help the pain pass soon.

  10. So sorry to hear this. Sounds like you and he were good for each other.

  11. @ Senorita ~ Thank you. I know it was the right thing, but sometimes I still miss him. Big lug. :-)

    @ Red Shoes ~ Thank you for the huggles! It took me a little time to actually write about it. I've been missing him lately, and have noticed how much my other pup does too. Somehow writing about it always makes me feel better. Which it did. And the huggles from you didn't hurt either! :-)


    @ Bill ~ You know, you're spot on with that deduction. :-)

    @The old milkcan ~ Sienna apprecaited the extra hugs given to her via me from you! Thank you...

    @Janice ~ He was certainly a character! One that I'm glad to have shared some time with!

    @cvjl ~ You'll know when it's right. This is my second 'set' of dogs. The other two passed away just when I got Sienna. They were both such great dogs I wanted them to pass on their greatness' to the new pup! Which worked! Surprise, surprise! But it's not ever easy. :-(

    @Lora ~ Thank you Miss Lora...:-)

    @ Indigo ~ Thanks darlin'. I appreciate it.

    @ Simply Suthern ~ I DO miss him. But most thoughts of him make me smile! I AM learning how to sleep with my legs stretched out again! It's been many many years since I've done that!

    @ Blissed out ~ We were a good pair, that's for certain. He came to my house as I watched him for a friend that was watching him after Stu's owner had passed away. He came...and then he never left! Kismet!

    Thanks to everyone for your kind comments.

  12. Oh, Nancy, I'm so sorry to hear about Stuey. It is so hard to lose a pet. They are a member of the family. You did the right thing by putting him down. No reason to have him suffer any more. Just know that he will be waiting to greet you in heaven. I'm a firm believer of that!

  13. Nancy--Your post brought tears to my eyes. We had Trixie--the best dog in the world (but then Annie was the best, and now Foley is the best)--and her body started shutting down. She wouldn't eat, pee or poop or get up and move around. We made an appointment--THE appointment--after work, and I came home, SURE that Trixie had died while we were away, to ensure we didn't have to go through the heartbreak of putting her down. I went into our bedroom, where we had made her a bed on the floor, positive I'd check and found no more breathing and no more heartbeat. Instead, Trixie was standing up, telling us she was ready...Needless to say, a flood of tears flowed.

    I am so sorry about Stuey. They leave a canyon in our heart that will never be filled. Fortunately, there's room for other four-legged friends...and I'm sure you'll find a companion for Sienna soon...

  14. It is heartbreaking to lose a member of the family. I saw with our cat int he middle of a 3-day snowstorm and watched him painfully die, with me not able to do much more than offer a little reiki & therapeutic touch. A year later, I had our other cat to the vet and went through the same as you, with "how much money do you want to spend and will it really make a difference". It is absolutely horrible and I feel for you.

  15. I am in tears...your story is beautiful (if it makes sense!). It reminded me of my dear Verdell, when he passed away, our last night (amazingly similar to yours with Stu), how he is still missed, we still feel him around and talk to him as if he is there, even after 18 months. It took us 1 full year before we adopted our dear Olivia, we just couldn't "replace" him. Now we know better: you don't replace your family, you just make room in your heart for the next blessing. Thanks for sharing!!

  16. @ Pat - Thank you. It IS hard. And it never gets easier unfortunately.

    @ Sioux - :( I'm sorry about your little friend as well!

    @Katherine - I know it was the right thing, but somehow the thought of the money issue made me feel like I didn't care enough, you know? But my vet wasn't judging or anything...she eased my pain by saying that it's what she would have done in my shoes as well.

    @OJ - Thank you darlin' for the compliment. It took me a little while to write his little story. (my keyboard isn't waterproof.)

    {{{hugs}}} to everyone!

  17. I know a lot of people say to me, You should have a pet (meaning a dog) and I know I would love one to deat.. umm.. pieces if I had one - BUT - I lost the best dog I ever knew on a Thanksgiving Day... after "sleeping" on the floor through the night next to her so that she knew someone was there in her distress... She had cancer... and I had "in between jobs"... the vet bill couldn't be done... and I've hated it ever since that money trumped doing "whatever could be done" ... for her - she was my soul mate and I took her everywhere... even to work - she'd curl up at my feet and just wait patiently for me to be ready for "doing something, anything..." with her.

    I just...couldn't handle going through that again. No matter what love they gave me - and how much "good" they might be for me (a live alone guy)...

    I can understand your mental state... its not a nice place - those hard choices...

    Rest in Peace Stuey You know you were loved... to the end and beyond.

  18. Nancy, I am so sorry about Stuey. It hurts to lose a loved one, even a furry one. I found it interesting that your labradoodle doesn't bark; neither does was a welcome pleasure after having the barking queen of black labs before her!

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