My page has been quiet for a while. I have been quietly trying to mend my broken heart.
Where to start…….I had to say goodbye to my best friend, my companion, my partner and the light of my life on October 15, 2012. The spark has been dimmed by the loss of my beloved Charlie, my Aussie with a tail.
I know many of you have heard his story, many of you have not.
I had been volunteering and fostering for the SPCA of Texas for almost two years when I was asked to foster part of a litter of 3 week old pups that had been dumped in a blanket outside of the SPCA. There were 8 Australian Shepherd pups in that blanket. Covered in fleas, all anemic, eyes and ears still closed they were so young. Two of the 8 pups just could not overcome the anemia and crossed the rainbow bridge. I only took the hard cases. The ones no one else wanted to foster because it was too much work. I fostered four and another lady fostered two.I had never had a litter of pups to raise before, let alone ones that could not fend for themselves.
These little ones grew like weeds. Three boys and one girl. I had happily fostered many of dogs, puppies, kittens and cats and was not planning on adopting one now. But I remember the exact moment that Charlie looked at me and I looked at him, and I knew he was staying forever.
Over the years Charlie and I did everything together. He was big brother to many a foster dog. I remember him with the dalmatian mix puppy that had to have his rear leg amputated. Charlie would lay on the ground and put his nose under Buddies behind to help the newly tripod puppy learn to balance. He allowed many a puppy to encircle him with their legs, nuzzle in his fur or play chase games.
We started playing agility a little before he was a year old. He loved the game and I loved bonding with him and playing the game with him. We never really wanted to compete, we just wanted to have fun together. I will never forget the time we were at a friend’s house practicing his agility jumps over the hurdles and my fearless dog ran to leap over a mound of plants. What he found on the other side was blank air and a 50 ft drop. I have no idea how he didn’t hurt himself falling so far. Me, I was totally freaked out, Charlie, not so much.
Or the time I took him to a herding seminar so we could learn how to work sheep. That’s what he is bred for, right? I have never seen my fearless dog so terrified in all of his life. Charlie, he was totally freaked out, me not so much!
Every where we went, folks always wanted to come pet and interact with Charlie. He had such a love of life and a joyful spirit. There were very few baby strollers that went past that he didn’t randomly stick his head in and kiss a baby. Freaked the parents out sometimes, us, not so much!
Then there is the time I first put on my mask for my bi-pap breathing machine. Charlie stood over me and pushed that mask with his muzzle for all he was worth. It was hurting me and he was gong to save me. I swear he was so awesome, he could give me mouth to mouth if needed.
When he turned 7, I decided he had learned to manage his gazelle like, 4 off the floor, jump to kiss your face antics, well enough, that I knew we could pass our Delta Therapy dog registration. Which we did with flying colors.
Charlie and I worked with lots of kids. Domestic violence kids, sexually abused kids, kids grieving over the loss of a loved one, special needs kids, and kids learning to read. We also work with the kids in the oncology unit at the hospital and women in the problem pregnancy unit.
Charlie was my tricks boy. He loved to show off all the tricks we had learned together. Our most favorite of all was when he said his prayers. There were many times that the kids would bow their heads and hold their hands together while Charlie did the same and I said our prayer. I could always depend on Charlie to raise his head when I said amen. The kids loved this, the adults loved it even more. “Dear Doggy heaven, please watch over all of the people in this room while they are here, amen”
We were asked to teach kids what it means to be assertive so they knew how to say no if touched impolitely. We did agility with special needs kids so they could have fun running a dog on a course, Charlie was one of the models for the first Unleashed Dallas workshop. He was patient, kind and always willing to work for me and with me. We had that kind of relationship married people do. You know just by looking at each other what you are thinking and instinctively know what needs to be done.
And then there was the day, not so long ago, that he started coughing. Out of no where, he started this strange cough. I took him to the vet on that Monday and we starting antibiotics thinking it could be bronchitis. But I knew in my heart, it probably wasn’t. By Friday his cough was quite severe so into the vet he went on Saturday for an xray. What should have shown black in the xrays were clouded and white. His lungs were showing signs of cancer.
Its hard to find a specialist on a Saturday. We were able to get into a specialist on monday at 10 am. But by then his breathing was very labored, he was pale and he could barely walk.
They did another set of xrays as the ones from the vet on Saturday were not complete from him being so stressed and wiggly.
They sent them out to a specialized radiologist someone and results are back in less than an hour.
He had 4 large white masses in his lungs plus all the white “fuzz” . They felt is was a very progressive form of cancer and one that would not be resolved with any treatment. They also felt he was bleeding internally somewhere which is why he was pale and becoming anemic.
For me, he hung on until that Monday so I could know, really know, what was wrong. And I made the choice right then to let him go. He was suffering and I did not want that for him.
7 days from the start of the cough until he was gone. 7 days of agony for us both. I know it was the right thing to do. But it doesn’t ease the pain of his loss. I was not prepared to lose Charlie just yet. We had so much more to do and to give. I thought he would live forever. Irrational, I know.
But he will live forever, in my heart and all the other hearts that he touched. There will never be another Charlie for me. Yes, there will be many more that I open my heart to, and there will be more that I will bond to and love. But they won’t be my heart and soul like Charlie was. That spot is reserved just for him.
I know he is running like the wind, and kissing many baby faces where he is now. I am sure he is healing many hearts and souls, but for now, mine is broken and will take a while to heal.
Goodbye dear, sweet friend. May you soar with the angels.