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.