Julie wrote a very touching post on the loss of our dog, Genevieve. Like Julie, I really couldn’t write about it (or really talk about it much) with too many people. Even at work, I haven’t told many co-workers because…well, I don’t know why. Maybe because my emotions about her death are still pretty raw. I remember all the good times we had with her, and then it makes me very sad to think that I will never see her again.
I was talking to my mom on the phone yesterday about Gen, and said to her: “You know, of all the dogs we ever had, Genevieve is the dog that’s been with me the longest.” Since I was a kid, most of the dogs we owned weren’t with us for very long. Genevieve was with us for 9 years, and in that time she was one of the most well-behaved dogs. It’s hard to be a dog in a human’s world, but Gen tried very hard to please her bosses (i.e., us), and when she lapsed and decided that being a dog was the most important thing (i.e., digging up the backyard, sleeping in the cool mud, deciding that if someone wasn’t eating food it was hers, going through the trash, and farting in our general direction), it was frustrating to her human bosses — though sometimes it was pretty funny.
Genevieve wasn’t a hyper dog, but she did have her moments when she would go crazy and spin (Julie took some video of her doing just that –which you can see HERE). Mostly, she was a mellow dog who loved to be with her pack — or as her vet said: “Genevieve is grateful for every day.” When her vet said that, it was really kind of touching because she could tell that Gen was extremely well taken care of — and didn’t take it for granted. You see, Genevieve was a rescue dog. We got her through B.A.R.K. Bay Area Rescue Keeshonden back in 2003 after her owner couldn’t care for her anymore. We had looked at another Kees, but that dog had some personality issues with children. Gen, however, was all bright-eyed had happy the first time we met her. Feeling a bit cagey about taking in a dog that might not be the best fit for our family, we opted to foster Gen (or, as she was named then, Sheila). She stayed with us for a month, and after it was clear that she was a great fit for our family, we adopted her. Getting her to respond to her new name wasn’t hard at all since she really never knew her previous name. And because we were her third owner, she was emotionally detached from us for a good amount of time and tried to run away to her previous home a few times. But after awhile she bonded with us and realized that we were her new pack and her desire to run back to her “Big Big Boss” (as we called her previous owner) eventually went away.
She was such a good companion at home. When Julie’s company went through a reorganization and made her work from home, Gen became Julie’s shadow. She followed her from room to room and up and down the stairs. Wherever Julie went in the house, Gen wasn’t far behind. Because Julie was at home all day, a routine developed that centered on daily walks. Oh, how good Gen was at reminding us when it was time for her walk. If Genevieve didn’t get a walk, she got kind of agitated as if to say: “Are you people crazy? It’s TIME for my walk. We ALWAYS go out at this time.” And sure enough, one of us would get the leash and take her out — even if it was for a “gyp walk” out to a patch of nearby grass so she could do her business.
They say that time heals all wounds, but time is also cruel. Time ages all living things, but does so in an uneven manner that speeds it up for some and slows it down for others. For dogs, the aging process is fast and when Gen went blind two years ago, we knew time would take our puppy from us sooner than we were ready. Of course we weren’t sure when that day would come, but that didn’t stop us from making her life as comfortable as possible. At first, Gen adjusted to being blind quite well. She had a sense memory of where everything in the house was, so it wasn’t difficult for her to make her way around our condo. And she had the same energy level and still followed Julie around the house (though a bit more gingerly).
But the cruelty of time started to rear its ugly head about 8 months ago. Gen started to suffer from a kind of dementia, was losing her hearing, her sense of smell, and even her appetite at times. She was also on a lot of medication. Before she went blind she was having trouble controlling her bladder when she slept. Sometimes she’d wake up to a soaked hind end, but the vet had a pill for that — and it worked. Also, she would often get bouts of diarrhea from something she ate (probably from licking grease off the stove door), and she was given pills to control that as well. She was also given medication to help with her dementia and to ease pain in her joints. But even with all the meds to control this or that problem she was having, her vet said that Genevieve wasn’t suffering or in any pain.
But Chemicals can only do so much to slow the effect of aging, and over the weekend it became clear that Genevieve had reached a point where she was starting to suffer. She was pacing around the house constantly (on Saturday she paced for 7 hours), she was agitated and uncomfortable from the after effects of a series of antibiotic shots that left part of her back swollen. She also had a small seizure on Sunday that made us realize that it was “time.”
Julie called the vet and was able to get an appointment on Monday afternoon to put Gen to sleep. Monday came, and Genevieve was not as frantic as she was over the weekend, but she still wasn’t well. She did, however, get her appetite back, so she got to eat as much as she wanted. All in all, she was having a good day. Lots of treats, lots of love, and lots attention.
And then it was time…
Julie and I were with Gen ’til the end. And at the end when the vet administered the injection, we petted Genevieve, told her we loved her, and that everything was going be okay. Mostly what I wanted (and I’m sure Julie did, too) was when time finally came to take our puppy from us, the last sound Genevieve heard were the voices of those who loved her very much — and that she knew she wasn’t alone.