They Have Only One Dog Left Now — Old Kate the Survivor

By Joe Darby

Old Kate, a spaniel-chow mix who’s either 15 or 16, has seen a number of dogs come and go in our house. All of our other beloved canines died too young, but Kate, bless her, is still around.

I’m writing this because we lost our Beagle-Basset mix, Bea, this week. Bea apparently had cancer, lost all of her energy and at the end, stopped eating. There was nothing to be done, except to have her “put to sleep” as they say. And it really was like going to sleep, as her transition from life was as gentle and easy as it could have possibly been.

I want to compliment our vet, Dr. Joey Bynog. Dr. Joey showed an abundance of compassion and understanding for the feelings that Mary and I had when we took Bea for her last visit to him.

We knew something was wrong a few weeks ago when Bea preferred staying in her little bed and sleeping most of the day to going out into “her” backyard to chase squirrels. Chasing squirrels was her great passion in life. We have several trees in the back yard, which provide cover and habitat for the squirrels but Bea would do her best to stalk them, as her DNA required her to do.

Much to the chagrin of Mary, who loves almost all animals (except for snakes and geckos) Bea caught a squirrel not too long ago. To Mary it was an unfortunate loss of a little life. To Bea it was fulfillment of an instinctive drive in her very bones that goes back for millennia, to her wolf ancestors.

Bea had been with us for about six or seven years, maybe a little more because time flies. Mary had found her in a rural area north of Baton Rouge, abandoned and forlorn. She had been abused because when approached she would cower down and whimper. By the time she passed, she had grown to know love, companionship and the joy of getting a bit of ham sandwich straight from my hand. So, her last years were good.

Bea joins three other dogs buried in our back yard. First there was Belle, a pointer mix, who died not long after we moved here in 2006. She was one of my all time favorite dogs. Belle had a rare spinal defect that caused her to lose control of her legs and her bodily functions. Belle was about 9.

The next to go was Doodie Claire, a rat terrier who was in fact my all time favorite dog. She died of brain lesions that caused similar symptoms to Belle’s but that blinded her as well. Doodie was not quite 5 when she died. I had expected that Doodie and I would grow old together. But it’s just me that’s getting old.

Then there was Mosby, or Boy as we sometimes called him, another rat terrier. He had internal problems that caused him to quit eating also. He was rapidly losing weight when we had to put him to sleep. He was about 10.

That brings me back to Kate, who had turned up at my sister’s house in the country back around 2004, when Mary and I still lived in the New Orleans area. . We adopted Kate and although Belle let Kate know that she, Belle, was definitely the alpha dog, Kate quickly fit in with out little pack.

Kate’s been remarkably healthy for these last 15 or so years, but now she’s starting to show signs of having trouble with her bladder. Puddles in the house have been found. And sometimes her back legs seem unsteady. I don’t know. Maybe it won’t be too long before she has to join Belle, Doodie, Boy and Bea in our doggie cemetery. I hope not. But in any case, Kate will likely be the last. It’s just too hard to lose them.

5 thoughts on “They Have Only One Dog Left Now — Old Kate the Survivor

    • Lady J, sorry about the delayed response, but I hadn’t checked my column for comments in the last couple of days. Yes, I’m familiar with the Rainbow Bridge. I think it’s just lovely and to be honest, I can’t read it without getting a couple of tears in my eyes. I first saw it after Belle died more than 10 years ago and I pictured her in Heaven, waiting for me. Thanks for the question.

  1. I’m so sorry about Bea. Our fur babies are family. Our 14 year old lab is struggling. It is so hard.

  2. Oh Joe – thank you for sharing this heartwarming story of the fur babies that have been so blessed by having you and Mary as their protectors and family! I am so sorry for your loss of Bea this week. God’s speed, Bea! It is so, so difficult to say goodbye – as I did with little 19 yr old Max recently.
    As my ol’ Bella, 12, cuddled up close to me during the thunder and rain this early morning, I felt such love and grace to have her by my side. The unconditional love that we receive from these precious babies is humbling. So is the laughter that we get to experience as they play and get into trouble. Just this week, Bella came to the back door, covered in dirt, after a failed attempt to dig up a mole in the yard!
    Treasure each and every moment that you still have remaining with Kate — she has experienced a lot of life with you and Mary. I do not think that it’s a coincidence that “Dog” is “God” spelled backwards…….

    • Thank you both very much for your kind comments. A cold, wet nose and a waggy, waggy tail, plus what’s in between those two ends, make up a wonderful animal. Let’s have a toast to the first caveman or cavewoman who enticed a wolf to their campfire and threw him a bone.

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