Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Special Thank You

My parents call me every Saturday and today was no exception. I was out walking Toby in the pouring rain. (Mobile phones are on my top five lists of best inventions.) My mother was on one extension, my dad on the other, and we just chatted about the usual progress of our lives.

I was nearing the top of the steep hill in my walk when my mom reminded my dad that there was something else to talk about. "Elizabeth..." my dad began in his Grave Voice. Nothing good comes after your parents using your full given name. I thought I was in trouble.

"On December 28, Kodiak went to dog heaven." Kodiak, our Great Dane-Labrador mix, whom I often called the Best Dog in the Whole Wide World (because he was - sorry Toby), was my first dog in life. He came into my life at a time that I needed someone who would lean against me, look at me with adoring brown eyes, and just listen. He was a beautiful, big, dumb dog and I loved him the way any kid loves her first dog, even if the kid in question was 30 years old.

When we made the decision to move to Ireland, we knew he couldn't come with us, but finding a home for an old giant breed with a few long-term health problems was always going to be a tough sell. Someone volunteered to take him and then the deal fell through. I was leaving in two weeks and didn't know what we were going to do with him. When I told my mom that we were going to have to put him to sleep if we couldn't find him a home, she immediately volunteered to take him.

I saw Kodiak at Thanksgiving and he looked much older and more frail than he had on my previous visits. His muzzle and chest were entirely grey. He had a hard time getting up and down the stairs. His back end was giving out on him and he dragged one leg. He was over 10 years old and that's practically ancient for a big dog.

I knew the day would come when I'd have to write about losing this special dog, and now that it has, I'm finding that I'm not able to do it. It's too hard - I'm just not ready yet.

But I do need to thank my parents. They provided Kodiak with a loving retirement home. My dad took him on walks and always remembered to bring a couple of plastic bags along. When my dad's knee flared up, my mom would pick up the slack, even though she's not a morning person or a dog person or an outdoors walking person.

Kodiak took several medications and every Saturday, my mother assembled his pills for the week. She made sure to buy him the brand-name Pepto-Bismal even though I was too cheap to do that for him when he lived with us. She kept him in prednisone and glucosamine-chondroitin. She was also responsible for supplying his hard-boiled eggs. (It was a happy day when she found the pre-boiled, pre-peeled eggs in the grocery store.)

They didn't have to take him in. Ever since Briton the cat (who got to 15 before getting cancer) went to Cat Heaven, they'd had a life free of the irksome responsibilities of a pet. A dog, especially an older dog, carries extra responsibilities.

But they took him in with a lot of love and they dealt with the challenges with good humour. And when it was time, they made the difficult decisions and made sure he had a safe and painless trip to Doggy Heaven. So, Mom and Dad, thank you for adopting Kodiak, providing him a first-rate retirement home, and taking care of all his needs, especially on 28 December.

26 Comments:

At 12 January 2008 at 19:02, Blogger laurie said...

oh, ann, i'm so sorry. of course you can't write about it yet. it took me six years before i could write about toby. don't rush yourself. just mourn the best dog in the whole world. i am so glad you were home at thanksgiving to see him. i am so sorry to read this.

 
At 12 January 2008 at 20:25, Blogger Jan said...

It is truly heart breaking to loose such a great friend. You have wonderful parents. Thank you for telling us about Toby and your parents. You had me tearing.

 
At 12 January 2008 at 21:59, Anonymous Harlequin said...

I'm so sorry ann. I know what it's like to lose a pet you love so much. It's a terrible thing. I'm glad for you that you got to see him before he died. I came back two months early from a year abroad to find my cat terribly ill - she died a few weeks later and I've always been glad that I came home early and had that precious time with her. At least you have Toby to take care of you. My family dog was a great comfort to me after Harley died. Your parents sound wonderful. Kodiak was lucky to have such great people in his life.
So sorry again. :-( xxx

 
At 12 January 2008 at 22:16, Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Oh how heartbreaking it is when our furry best friends die!
I'm so so sorry, Ann. I cherish the memories of all the animals who have taken me on as companion over the years. My current pet, who literally 'found' me, is a treasure. I simply cannot envision a day when she leaves. And the joke is, I had been all through with pets when she came into my life.
Your parents are angels.

 
At 12 January 2008 at 23:36, Blogger The Rotten Correspondent said...

I'm so sorry about Kodiak, ann. I'm glad for you that you saw him at Thanksgiving and got to love on him while you were there. Bless your parents for taking care of him so well.

It's never easy. I wish you all the best right now.

 
At 13 January 2008 at 04:54, Blogger Alison said...

Oh Ann...I am so sorry. I know how devestating this is. Big Hugs to you! Your parents are definitely angels. Take the time to grieve his loss...I have been there.

 
At 13 January 2008 at 06:39, Blogger Gattina said...

OMG, I can understand that it must be very hard for you that he is not there anymore. How nice of your parents to take care of him and he certainly had a very good life. It's sad that dogs don't live longer but I have to say when my cats died after 20 years (not at the same time of course) it was very hard too. It took me two years before I even could mention my cat Max here on my blog. Now I only keep the good souvenirs in my mind the sadness is gone.

 
At 13 January 2008 at 07:15, Blogger ped crossing said...

Oh, gosh, so sorry about your first furry friend. He will always hold a very special place in your heart. But how wonderful that your parents took him in and gave him so much love when you weren't able to.

 
At 13 January 2008 at 11:07, Blogger Yvonne said...

So sorry about Kodiak, I'm glad he had a lovely retirement though.

 
At 13 January 2008 at 11:22, Blogger Babaloo said...

Ann, I'm so sorry to hear this. It breaks your heart, I know. Don't rush about wanting to write about Kodiak, it's too early. It's a tough time you're going through.

 
At 13 January 2008 at 13:27, Blogger amy said...

Ann,
Our hearts feel your sadness at losing the best dog in the whole world. Kodiak lived a better life for having you and your parents care for him. It is so hard to lose a friend like this but I am glad you were able to see him when you came to the States.

You will write more about him when you're ready. Give yourself time to sit with all of the good memories you have of him. We'll make sure Autumn gives him a warm welcome and some extra treats in Doggie Heaven.

 
At 13 January 2008 at 13:31, Blogger Kaycie said...

Ann, I am so sorry. Sending love and good thoughts your way.

 
At 13 January 2008 at 18:10, Blogger Aoj & The Lurchers said...

Ann I am so very sorry. {{hugs}} Run free Kodiak

 
At 13 January 2008 at 18:12, Blogger Sandy said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing the bit of Kodiak that you did with us and God bless your parents.

 
At 13 January 2008 at 18:17, Blogger Dave P. said...

Ann,

I just wanted to echo what Amy said. We're sorry for your loss, but happy that the three of you had such a good run together, and that your parents will willing to take care of him to the end.

Take care, and let Toby take care of you...

(I owe you an email, I'll catch up soon!)

xoxo,
dp

 
At 13 January 2008 at 18:59, Blogger Fianna said...

I am so sorry. The loss of a beloved pet is so hard. I am giving my furry ones extra special loving today in honor of Kodiak.

 
At 13 January 2008 at 20:22, Blogger -Ann said...

Laurie - Thank you...It's not like this was a big surprise. I figured I'd be able to write about it. I've just been surprised by how rough this is since he hasn't been a daily part of my life for the last three years.

Jan - Thank you. My parents were wonderful to take him in. They really were good for each other and I know they miss him too.

Harlequin - Thank you. We're all lucky to end up with such great pets. The downside is that they don't live longer.
Wisewebwoman - Thank you. You truly live up to your profile name. :)

RC - Thank you. We had a great last visit all right.


Alison - Thank you. My parents were very good to him.

Gattina - Thank you. I know it will get better and I can enjoy the memories eventually without feeling so sad.

ped crossing - Thank you. Kodiak got - and gave - a lot of love.

Yvonne - Thank you. He had a good going-away party too. He got steak and chocolate as his last dinner and pork sausage for breakfast.

Babaloo - Thank you. My parents and I had such a nice chat about him, it was almost like eulogies in a funeral. But there is some big step between writing and talking for me I guess.

Amy - Thank you. Please tell Autumn that Kodiak is partial to Greenies. (Well, and garbage. I suppose his tastes aren't really all that sophisticated.)

Kaycie - Thank you. I appreciate it.

Aoj & The Lurchers - Thank you. It's nice to think of Kodiak being able to run again.

Sandy - Thank you. I'm sure I'll share more some other time.

Dave P. - Thank you. Toby is taking great care of me. (I look forward to your email, but no rush. I'm not going anywhere. :))

Fianna - Thank you. Kodiak was partial to scratches around his hip bones.

 
At 13 January 2008 at 21:02, Blogger Terri said...

How very sad - losing a pet is losing a member of your family. How great that you got to spend time with the best dog in the whole world :-)

 
At 13 January 2008 at 21:07, Blogger Karina said...

I stopped by to be reminded of the Fun Monday topic, and was grabbed by this post. I had tears in my eyes by the end. I'm so sorry for the loss of your dog. Even if he wasn't living with you at the time, I'm sure it still must have come as a huge shock, and a huge loss. Your parents sound like wonderful folks!

HUGS

 
At 14 January 2008 at 04:30, Blogger Junebug said...

Oh gosh, I'm sorry for your loss. I couldn't keep from crying too. The post was very moving about your parents good care of him.

 
At 14 January 2008 at 06:14, Blogger mama speak said...

Ann,

I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm glad you have Toby to help comfort you and that your parents were willing and able to take on his care when you moved.

My oldest DD asked yesterday if doggies went to doggie heaven & I told her I believed they did. Then she wanted to know how to get there. Jeez! Of course, then she wanted to know if that's where our dog will go when she dies (yes)...quickly followed by, "I want to get a new puppy when Merit goes to heaven." Jeez DD1 don't let the door hit her on the...I told her mommy will be sad for a very, very long time when Merit goes. And I know, so will she.

I like to think that Kodiak is laying in the sun & romping in the grass. Maybe even chewing on a peanut butter filled kong. How's that for a good memory?

 
At 14 January 2008 at 06:21, Blogger Joy T. said...

Making my way down to the FM list and have to stop and say how sorry I am to read this. You truly have amazing parents for taking Kodiak in like that and looking after him all these years. So sorry for your loss :o(

 
At 14 January 2008 at 06:43, Blogger -Ann said...

Terri - Thank you. Your words are quite true - these furry creatures totally become part of the family.

Karina - Thank you. Hope the tears didn't un-fun your Fun Monday. :)

Junebug - Thank you. My parents did such a great job with him and I know they really agonised at the end about the right thing to do.

mama speak - Thank you. I wondered about how to get to Doggie Heaven as well- I want to go there, at least to visit. I've decided my Nana is taking care of him and showing him around. And I bet his tail never stops its happy-tail-propeller-circuit.

Joy T. - Thank you. I'm very fortunate on several counts.

 
At 14 January 2008 at 08:42, Blogger wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

What a heartbreaking post, but it sounds as though Kodiak (great name) had a very happy life with caring owners.

 
At 14 January 2008 at 16:37, Blogger thefoodsnob said...

Oh, I'm so sorry for your loss.


Lisa

 
At 14 January 2008 at 17:40, Blogger -Ann said...

WUASTC - Thanks. Kodiak came pre-named for our convenience. :) The woman who gave him to us only had one request - that we keep his name. It suited him down to the ground - he was a big old bear of a dog. (But a playful bear, not a scary bear. :))

Lisa - Thank you.

 

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