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Location: Oaksterdam, California

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

2nd best dog of the world...

The best dog in the world is in this picture lounging on the right. The survivor and runner up is on the left.

My candidate for the best dog in the world is Shamrock on the right, sporting a bit of the Black Irish, was adopted on St. Patrick's day in 1993. He grew to be the mellowest of dogs until his untimely death on September the 13th, 2001. That's two days after my birthday and the day I mark as the day the world went mad.

The dog on the right is Roxi Blu, the barkiest dog in the world - until recently. She stop moving, could barely get up and could not walk far enough to do her business. When she did walk it was with a stagger. It seemed her time was up and there would be that last trip to the vet.

This opened a lot of painful memories for me that I thought I had locked up tight and banished.

Let me explain in a rambling manner, Shamrock was a noble hound, my first adult-owned and chosen dog which subsequently got me through a heartbreaking divorce. Then in the prime of his life, he was struck down with old dog vestibular disease. The "old dog" is a misnomer as the disease and its causes are not really well understood by vets. The result is that the dog loses its sense of balance. This can be caused by brain tumors, inner ear infection or degenerative nervous system disorders. If it were a human you'd say they had a stroke. But dogs don't get strokes according to all the vets I consulted.

So after numerous consultations, x-rays, blood tests and a CAT scan, we went for the spinal tap. Agonize with me for a moment, two days after the most hideous televised event in history - people jumping out the towers to avoid burning death - replayed over and over again - which I watched straight through for 36 hours. Then imagine visiting the best dog in the world at the vet hospital with an oxygen mask on because he's got water on the lungs and has shrunken from his vim and vigor. I then took his breathing mask off and held the forepaw steady while the vet found the vein that would hold the lethal dose.

I keep telling myself that the eye contact we had at that moment was Shamrock telling me, "thank you." That's only a guess as his eyes went soft focus and then closed while his head and neck lost all sense having any weight - just limp.

The staff showed me a back door exit at the rear of the building (can't have these grieving people pass through the waiting room) and got in my car.

I drove a few blocks and then pulled over. I tried to cry but that river had run dry. No tears came. I had cried them out for the 10 thousand victims they were claiming that day.

Enough of that. Back to the 2nd best dog in the world -- Roxi Blu. Last month she wouldn't move and I felt a chill of deja vu. She soon began whining in whimpers expressing pain that breaks a heart. I thought here is another round of me explaining to the vet her symptoms, much like Aaron speaking for an inarticulate Moses. That's what we dog owners do when going to the vet. Dogs can't speak for themselves to explain where the aches and pain are. For me this is the hardest burden to bear as a dog owner: translate the dogs wishes and make the decision of whether it/she/he has quality of life. [Can I get an Act of Congress to help?]

Unlike a farmer who has to deal the a chicken-stealing mutt behind the barn with a shotgun -- this is a lifeforce I have been communicating with until I understand that the tap dances in front of the food bowl mean nourishment is required and farts in the afternoon means take me out before I mess on the carpet. Dogs do talk, we don't always understand what they are saying. Yet they always understand.

So the good news, Roxi had a fever and low thyroid count on her blood test. With anti-biotics and new drugs is recovering nicely. No plug pulled!

Afterthought & Update: I've been writing this post for the last two weeks. At the risk of being superstitious, every time my dog is going down the end of world index goes up.

P.S. When things are troubled I tend to den -- lick wounds, hide, recover and come out after feeling better when I can show a bright side. Apologies to all...