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       

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sing along why don't cha...

I just celebrated a birthday.
No, no…I’m not telling you this in order to receive more birthday wishes. (although feel free as it makes me feel all warm, fuzzy and loved)…no, I’m sharing this with you, well, just because.

The day before my birthday the doorbell rang. I was nearby and wouldn’t be able to pass off that I wasn’t home, so as one normally does when the doorbell rings, I answered it. There stood a man holding a bouquet of flowers.
"Nancy?” he inquired.

“Yes, I’m Nancy.”
“Here ma’am, these are for you…” as he handed over the bouquet to me.

I accepted the flowers but cringed at the sound of ‘ma’am’. Ma’am was my mother and my mothers mother before that and my mothers mothers mother. I wasn’t ready for that moniker and inwardly was a little off put by it. “Thank you. Thank you so very much!” I said, “But please for future reference…ma’am is my mother.” I smiled to let him know I was just kidding with him.
He laughed, grinned and waved, “Yes ma’….I mean miss. I get that a lot. But I was raised in the south. Everyone is ma’am there or you get a whoopin’.”

Yes, sir. I bet you would. And if I were 10 years younger and you were….Oh Nancy. Stop yourself!
I did smile though. The thought pleased me, just a tad.

The flowers were just lovely. It held several rubrim lilys (my favorite), some daisies, some tulips, some curly willow branches and some other exotic things that I don’t know the name of but are oh, so lovely. I unwrapped the box it was stapled into and it revealed a modern square vase that was just as beautiful as the flowers themselves.
Tucked in the flowers was a card, which I then opened to find out who was so thoughtful (and prompt!) with birthday wishes.

It read: Happy Birthday Love, Dad

Birthday, check: that must be for me.
Love, Dad….Dad sent ME flowers? He never sends flowers. I’ve never, ever gotten flowers from Dad. He used to stop and buy a carnation or rose or a grocery bouquet every so often for mom as she loved flowers and flower arranging, but he’s really not the ‘send flowers’ kind of guy.
I turned the card over. Was it a mistake? I half expected them to be from my ex-husband. HE’s the flower sending type of guy, but my dad? Never.

I called my brother. “Did you have something to do with this? I got flowers from Dad!” I exclaimed.
“I talked to him the other day and reminded him there was a big birthday coming up, but no…the flowers were all his idea. He needed your address, but he’s the one that said “Hey, I should send her flowers!” he chuckled, "I thought you might be surprised."

Wow. Yup. Yes, Indeedy it was (and still is!) surprising!
The day of my birthday, well wishes coming via Facebook were off the chart. My daughter bought me some exquisite chocolates with money she’d saved. Her friends all sent me text messages wishing ‘Happy Birthday to mom #2!’.  I got a birthday video from a close friend in Florida and his toddler daughter with a charming rendition of the birthday song. Even the people at the Melting Pot brought me not one, but two huge boxes of the most beautiful chocolate covered strawberries.

Heck, I even received a text message from my ex boyfriend sending birthday wishes. Truly, I wouldn’t have expected him to remember. And if he did, actually acknowledge it.
It was all rather surprising.
And touching.

I’ve been to many huge birthday parties. I’ve been to ones thrown by the birthday girl (or guy), ones thrown by friends, spouses and significant others. I been to surprise parties and some that were supposed to be surprises but turned out not to be. I’ve even been the host of some of the above…but I’ve never had anyone throw me a party. At least as an adult. My mother used to throw the bomb diggity of birthday bashes when I was little...

Wait. There was that ONE time...
When I was turning 40. I was going through a divorce, I had the day off, I wasn’t dating anyone special and didn’t have any plans…so I loaded up the baby and went to visit my parents. I didn’t feel like being alone.
Around 8 o’clock I got a call from one of my girls that worked for me.

“Nancy!!! Where are you? I thought you were coming to the Pub!” she exclaimed. “C’mon! Get here!”
“I can’t, Lauren. Sorry...I’m in Toledo.”

“WHAT? You CAN’T BE! Everyone’s here! We even got you a cake!!!!!!” she whined, "How long will it take you to GET HERE?!"
Yeah, two hours. Ain't going to happen.
Ah….the first rule of surprise parties, Have control over the surpriseee. That will go down in the column of good intentions, although fail. I’m to understand that they all had a smashing great time. Albeit sans the birthday girl.

I’ve never been one to blow my own horn. I have a hard time drawing attention to myself. I enjoy attention, but not if it has to be asked for. I suppose that’s one of the reasons why no one really knew it WAS my birthday. Those closest to me know, and those linked to me via some social network or another probably got an email ‘You have friends with birthdays this week’ but otherwise I’m not about to go around telling everyone ‘It’s my Birthday!’, although I have been doing that a lot this year with all the coupons being sent to me. Everywhere I hand one in I get a gaggle of people wishing me Happy Happy.
I smile and thank them but really, please…don’t’ sing. I don’t need to wear a sombrero, I don’t need to be serenaded, I don’t want that free dessert. Well, no..I take that back…bring me a free dessert. AND a martini.

And more of those scrumptious chocolate covered strawberries.
I might make this birthday a birth WEEK celebration. Hell, maybe a birth MONTH!

And you know...I might even learn to like; the birthday song.

PS: It has turned into a birth week celebration thus far. Monday I was surprised by the ladies at work that not only brought me in a delicious (YUM!) chocolate cake but then took me out for drinks. I love my co-workers...This milestone is off to a good start.