Georgie Porgie, Puddin’ and Pie

I want to caution you: this post is raw, ugly and painful.  It won't be flowered to ease anyone's discomfort of reading raw emotion, ugly words and painful topics.  This is my therapy.  I know I'm not the only one who needs it.

I love dogs.  My first dog was a black/white chihuahua/terrier mix named Tiger.  Our family got him around Christmas when I was 5-6 years old.  He was mean and I have the scars to prove it!   Not too long after we got Tiger,  we got Mary.  Mary was a black and white dachshund.  For all of Tiger's mean behavior, she made it up in love.  They both lived very long lives.  Our oldest son even remembers Mary.  In our family, they were my brother and sister.  No joke, I would get Christmas presents, even get well cards, from them.  I knew better.  I knew it was my Dad.  So, I will blame my Dad for one of my greatest loves.

Another person to blame for this craziness is my Aunt Clyde and Uncle Truman.  That is who we got Tiger from.  She bred dogs.  I loved nothing more than to go to their home and visit.  Dogs everywhere!  Chihuahuas, Pekinese, Yorkies, Bassets, dachshunds, and more.  So I will blame Aunt Clyde and Uncle Truman for my craziness.

Over the years, Ray and I have had several dogs.  We rescued them and they rescued us.  However in 2005, I made a painful mistake.  His name is Leo, but it didn't stop there.

Leo is a chocolate chihuahua.  He turned 13 on July 29.  Then there's Hank (Henry Edward), a blue chihuahua.  He turned 11 in March.  Heidi, who some of you know from her breeding days, is a red chihuahua who turned 11 in May.  I had this brilliant idea to breed Heidi with Hank.  Heidi's first litter was with Leo.  Out of that litter we kept Pete.  His birthday is August 19, 2009.  Heidi had two more litters with Hank before we retired them.  We kept Mona, a black and red, chihuahua from Heidi's last litter.  Twenty one days ago, on September 6, I had to have her put down.  Painful as it was, she had been ill for a couple of months and I couldn't keep her just to avoid being sad.  I loved her too much for that.  I held her, whispering in her ear, while the doctor injected the pink "death" medicine, reminding her how much I loved her and just how grateful I was for the time she spent with us.

If you don't understand animals, particularly dogs, then you can't imagine the pain of saying goodbye.  Just six years ago, Ray and I sat with the matron of our family, 16 year old Ursa.  It still hurts.  Our son's dog, Cassie, died at the age of 14 years before the doctor got there to relieve her of the pain from the cancer that had rapidly overtaken her body.  It was just three years ago that we said goodbye to her.  They were rescues, who in fact rescued us.

Tiger, Mary, Ursa, Cassie and Mona lived beautiful long lives.  They were and are forever in our hearts.

If the story ended here, I don't think I would have written it.  I wouldn't have needed to.  On May 18, 2013, Gracie, a lively brown dachshund was born.  She was gifted to us by one of our favorite families, The Smiths.  We had to downsize when we moved three weeks ago and painfully let her live with one of The Smith daughters, Gracie.

In May of this year, I made what I thought to be a beautiful decision.  You see, I wasn't thinking that as Leo, Hank, Heidi Pete and Mona got older they would start dying around the same time.  How devastating that will be!  So, we got this spunky white and brown long haired chihuahua from a family who were unable to care for him any longer.  He was 7 months old and like any puppy breathed new life into the elderly dogs in our home. He would be the one to ease our pain when our other dogs started leaving us.  We called him Georgie.

Yesterday was like any other day.  Georgie was playing with Pete.  Pete tolerated him and honestly loved his attention.  However, around 2:00 in the afternoon something changed about Georgie that didn't readily concern me.  He was sitting on the floor panting.  About two hours later I noticed he had thrown up a couple of times.  I cleaned it up.  Nothing unusual about it.  I went back to unpacking in the back of the house.  Around 7:00, I realized I hadn't seen Georgie.  The other dogs were at my feet.  I felt slightly panicked as I looked for Georgie.  I found him, unresponsive between the toilet and wall, sprawled out on the tile.  He had labored breathing and felt cold.

Immediately, I picked him up and got into my truck and started driving to our vet.  As I was calling them to let them know I was on my way, I tried to keep my composure as the receptionist asked the mundane questions.  As I finished her questions and hung up, I pulled in to the parking lot.

Georgie weighed about 9 pounds.  His body was heavy as I lifted him up.  As soon as I got to the desk, the receptionist took Georgie back to be seen.  What seemed like hours was only a few minutes, she got me to a room.  Alone and wondering what they were saying and doing for Georgie, my mind went places it wasn't ready to go.

The doctor (not our regular one) came in and told me that Georgie was very unstable.  He's struggling to breath and his temp was 94 degrees!  He said he was trying to warm him up and he was giving him oxygen.  He started explaining that IF they could stabilize him, he would likely spend the next 48 hours at the emergency vet hospital.  He told me that Nancie, the tech, would go over costs with me and he left the room.  As the tech is going over each and every expense, I'm struggling with memories of Mona, why is he sick and where am I going to get the money to help Georgie.  I'm looking at the computer screen with her, $38 for the office visit, $5.10 for biohazard disposal, $158 for x-rays, $120 for someone to read the x-rays, IV fluids... almost $900!  I explained that I could afford that and asked for Georgie back.  They had me sign an AMA (against medical advice) which ironically, I wasn't leaving because I disagreed with their advice.  I got Georgie and went to my truck.

I held him and watched him struggle to breath.  I was taking him home to certain death.  His eyes were open but he didn't seem to be there.  I cried, trying to decide what to do.  I screamed at God to tell me what to do.  Nothing.  This is one decision I had to make on my own.  I carried him back in, passing the other dogs who had to feel my pain.  I asked the receptionist how much it would cost to put him out of his pain.  How much is the pink death medicine?  She took me back into room and got the tech.  Once again the damn computer screen with the price.  I didn't care.  I knew it wouldn't be much compared to treating and "maybe" saving him.  $96.90.  Deal.  Done, hurry before he dies.

She explained that they would take him in the back to put the IV catheter in.  I told her no.  He wasn't leaving me.  My god, what if he died without me whispering in his ear how much I loved him?  Dr. G let me stay with Mona while inserting the catheter.  I know you can do this.

The doctor came in and warned that it might be difficult since his blood pressure was likely very low. He was kind and gentle.  He was also right.  The first try failed.  He gently tried again and got it in.  He flushed out the catheter to make certain it was good.  I had to tell Nancie she needed to move.  I was going to be the last person to hold my dog, to stroke his head and to whisper in his ear how grateful we were for his short time with us.  I could feel him leave me.  1.5 cc's of the pink death medicine in and I know he was free.  If this was the end of the story, I wouldn't be writing this.  It's not.

The doctor told me he was so sorry for my loss.  Nancie had turned away from me but I could tell she was crying.  It was just what I needed.  I was teary but calm.  I've done this before, I'll no doubt do it again.  There is nothing easy about it but it's what I had to do.  It was for Georgie.

I requested some hair clippings.  I'm not sure what I'll ever do with them but I have Ursa, Cassie and Mona's hair.  It may be ridiculous to some but somehow it makes me feel better.  Before she cut the clippings, she opened up that damn computer and started to talk to me about the fee for cremation.  I looked at her puzzled.  What?!?!  Nancie then proceeded to tell me that if I wanted him to be cremated communally that it would cost $40-50 more.  I'm holding my dead dog that I paid to have put down and now you talk to me about the fucking fee to have him cremated?!?!?!?  She said I could take him home with me if I wanted to.  By this time, you don't want to know the words that were coming out of my mouth, not to mention the tears pouring out of my eyes.  I picked up my dead dog and walked back to my truck with him.

I laid him next to me, petting him, cursing Nancie.  I found myself apologizing to Georgie for this whole fiasco.  I'm pretty much hysterical now.  What was I suppose to do?  I then remembered I have my vet's cell phone number.  I called him and explained how messed up it was for Nancie to wait until after my dog died to bring up the fee for cremation.  She knew he would die with the pink medicine why didn't we discuss this beforehand????   It seemed so cold.  He has taken care of Heidi, Hank, Leo, their puppies, Ursa, Cassie - he's a good man.  He made it right and once again I walked back in with my dead dog and surrendered him.  I asked for his hair clippings.  Whoever the woman was, who took him from me and returned with his hair, was an angel.

I left and went to tell Ray about Georgie.  If the story ended there, it would be sad but it doesn't end there.  I went to Aardwolf (a brewery in San Marco).  Fortunately, Kyle (bartender, family friend and dog lover) was working.  He's probably one of the sweetest people.  I told him why I was upset and he bought me a beer.  I sat at the bar next to a girl named Becky, also a dog lover.  We talked for a long time.  She's 23 but super smart and mature.  There were a lot of dogs there last night.  They seemed to know what was up.  Then there was Tucker.  It was his 15th birthday.  An old yellow lab celebrating with his human.  Tucker sat on the floor, right behind me.  He knew.

Becky and I talked about dogs.  I can't remember who had the dachshunds but she mentioned two dachshunds.  I immediately thought about Gracie.  I messaged Gracie and told her what happened today and asked if I could have her back.  What a crappy thing for me to do!  There's a darling four year old who loves Gracie.  I was so wounded that I honestly don't think I cared.  I needed the youthful dog in the house.  I needed to make sure that when I start having to say goodbye to the other four, that someone is there to get me through those days, like Georgie was supposed to do.  Gracie offered to bring her to me, but  I was already on my way to her house.


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