I guess I’m doing this again.
What does a dog mean to you? In your home, life, or maybe just on the peripheral. What is your experience with a dog?
Mine has always been a source of love. As a kid I knew no matter what, a dog would love me.
If my parents were on the warpath, I had a dog. If I got bad grades, I had a dog. If I had a bad day, I had a dog. If I did something bad all on my own, I had a dog. A dog, be it Raz, Sprig, Max, Buddy, Ace, Zoey, Coal, Olive or Rey. If I was happy, sad, or even indifferent they were there.
Especially if I was cooking.
Back in 2011, when I moved, I lost the agency to own a dog. I moved to the Santa Cruz area and could only rent for a while. Most places will accept a cat that sleeps, but not a dog and certainly not a puppy.
So, between 2012 and roughly 2015 we were dog-less. It wasn’t until 2015, a year after buying a dilapidated place in the Santa Cruz Mountains, did we feel comfortable getting a dog.
We had a lot of discussions about it, but for me the most important part was Owen growing up with a dog.
Owen is unique in his own way. You can place him somewhere on a spectrum, and that isn’t really important, but what all kids need growing up is an animal that will reciprocate affection. Unconditionally.
Parents are dumb and complicated. We have rules, expectations, bad days. We sometimes freak out over little things because it’s not really the little thing; it’s another thing that’s out of our control but what is in our control is if you made your bed or ate the dinner we made.
Dogs and cats don’t have those. So to make up for my parental short-comings, I get cats and dogs.
So, I wanted Owen to have a dog. All of us too, but he missed some of those formative early years growing up with a dog.
Olive flew over from Georgia (the state, not the country), and proved to be a true California girl. She not only gave us all of the snuggles and love we desired. She taught Owen patience and compassion. She let Caralyne take her to 4H, despite absolutely hating the cold concrete she had to sit on. She guarded our house, but only from other dogs and not when someone tossed my car and the cops woke me up in the morning to tell me. And despite my protests, she kept the counter tops free from sticks of butter and my GODDAMN FIVE GUYS HAMBURGER!
To cut to it, over the last year we noticed a change in behavior. Last year Olive had a seizure. She recovered, but it felt too close to our last weimaraner’s final days.
A few months after that, we noticed she could not hold her bladder all night. We would have to make sure we were taking her out just before bedtime, and sometimes locking her kennel so she wouldn’t pace around in the early AM.
Then we noticed a STRONG smell coming from her bed area. Like, a Chuck E Cheese kids restroom where the floor is coated in urine. It was really awful.
That was about when we realized she was wetting the bed, and herself. We walked her more and took her out frequently. When it got to the point of washing her and her bedding daily, we obviously knew there was a problem.
We took her in for a checkup. Naturally, you don’t assume the worst. The Dr explained since she was spayed, and older, it could just be a common issue with “elasticity”. Pills will cure her. Right as rain. Just some blood-work and a urine sample and we’ll be on our way.
The RELIEF! It washed over me like a cool rain in the humid summer. I knew someone who had a dog with similar issues, so this was just a common thing! Bless the maker for modern medicine indeed!
Sadly that’s not what really happened. No, a few days later late Friday evening, Michele and I were out walking Olive around the neighborhood. I was just out of range from a signal, and when our walk was done I had 3 separate voice mails from the vet.
Google Voice transcribes these very well, but the only words that struck me as I read the message was:
Advanced Kidney Failure
I’ll spare the grief. I’ll spare the anguish of calling an in-home euthanization service. We’ve all been crying.
I have scheduled her death between work meetings and I have never felt worse.
I just wanted to reflect on her life, and impact, and what a companion means to all of us in life.
Olive, 2015 - 2023
You were a good girl, and we all loved you. Thank you for all of your kindness.