Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chance, Our Sweet Boy

I could go on and on about how the current Administration is determined to sink the US Economy and buy votes from Illegal alien amnesty and numerous other corrupt things...but no.. we need, I need to talk about Chance, our Yellow Lab.

Chance came to us last year around the 1st of August via Travis (stepson) who found this little 6 week old puppy in a ditch beside the road. He was covered in Fleas, fire ants were in the process of trying to make a meal out of him. He was so weak from loss of blood that he could barely walk. It took 2 hours to get all of them off him.. his gums were white. The vet said he wouldn't have survived another 24 hours if Travis had not seen him. He was given the name "Chance" as it seemed God had given him a 2nd chance at life.

You have to understand, we already have 6 dogs. It sounds crazy but actually they are all very well behaved. There are 3 Italian Greyhounds (small breed), a Beagle named Missy and two of her pups which are now 2 years old. Those two are Greagles - a mix between (of course) an Italian Greyhound (Dakota) and Missy. Spanky has a bad eye but he's loveable, Belle just loves her Daddy and is bonded to me like you wouldnt believe. Now we have this Yellow Lab (pure bred for sure) puppy thrown into the mix. The other dogs accepted him immediately with no problems. We were planning on getting him healthier and then taking him to a friend who has a local (no kill) rescue shelter. We've taken a liter or two of puppies to her before so they could be adopted out to good homes.

As the weeks went on Chance started to grow a little bigger.. but more importantly he started growing on our hearts. Chance was completely potty trained in about a week to our complete surprise. Sheila and I didn't have to have much of a conversation about Chance not going to the rescue.. without words we both had decided that Chance was already at his new home. His sweet loving personality just showed through this incredible little puppy. He started to show what a very smart dog he was. Compared to the other dogs, his intelligence level was a few bars higher..but that's OK too, we don't just love them for how smart they are. We love our dogs because they are, well, our dogs.

After a few months at our home Chance grew bigger and stronger.. his bark becoming loud and clear. Even though he was growing on the outside, he was still a puppy inside. After all, he was only 5 months old even though he might have weighed about 25 or so pounds. All during Chance's life Sheila and I took pictures.. millions of pictures of him and our life. Nothing was too mundane to snap a picture of, a silly look on his face.. rolling on his back on the carpet with his feet up in the air. Chance got a lot of love, a million mooches. One of my favorite places to give him mooches was on the soft side of his muzzle and the side of his face. He just ate all the attention up like he was a sponge.

The winter came and Chance now about 6 months old loved going out in the snow and running around the backyard with Missy, Spanky & Belle. He seemed like he was in his element. Even when it wasn't snowing he absolutely went crazy when we played Frisbee. He couldn't get hold of it much because Belle is my champion Frisbee catcher.. but he got it once in awhile. Then there was the day I was running in a circle around the backyard with the Frisbee high in my hand.. dogs were running, barking, jumping and barking more. I picked up the pace and thought I'd be tricky and spin and throw it .. I ran fast ahead of the Belle and Chance who had started fussing at each other .. they quickly regrouped and started running full speed for me.. I was in mid turn when Chance who, was running at FULL speed barking sideways at Belle hit me in the back of my legs and took them completely out from under me. All I remember is the massive hit and seeing Blue Sky.. then comes the pain.. the pain of hitting the ground fully prostrate flat on my back.

As I looked skyward I tried to think of what had just happened. The dogs by this time had seen that "Daddy" was on the ground so he MUST want to PLAY! I got a billion licks on my face and head before I could get my wits about me and get up. Chance.. looking at me with the innocence of a little boy. My back hurt, my head hurt.. but I had to laugh at the situation, and my sweet boy.

As more time went on Chance grew to about 45lbs and his bark was that of a full grown Lab. He was still the sweet loveable dog that he'd been since the day he was a puppy sitting on the counter getting the fleas picked off him. Sheila and I would see him try to get comfortable on the couch, which wasnt easy for him being so big now. He didnt realize he wasn't a little puppy like he use to be. Once in awhile I would grab him and pull him completely up on me like he was in my lap.. he'd just lay there and grunt a little.. then give me a lick on the face. Sometimes Sheila or I would just sit down and wrestle with him on the floor.. he loved grabbing shirt sleeves. Chance's favorite thing with daddy when playing was to put my arm, wrist or hand completely in his mouth and just hold it while growing like a bear.. he only scratched when he used his paws. A few times he got too excited and I bled a little, but never anything serious at all.

When we gave treats to the dogs it was a sometimes dangerous thing with snapping jaws of the Blind Greyhound Sweet Pea who always eats like a Velociraptor. But Chance was different, when given a treat he took it gently and easily.. sometimes even loosing his treat to another dog requiring us to get another to replace it for him. His sweet disposition never ceased to surprise me and just allowed Sheila and I to fall in love with him even more each day. To us Chance was "Bubbee or Bubba".. Our sweet boy.

When Chance was about 8 months old he was almost fully grown, but STILL that sweet puppy inside. I did notice that on some warmer days he didnt do well, his tongue would hang out and as soon as he came inside.. would plop down on the AC Vent. I figured he'd get use to it, but I did worry some because his breathing was unusually heavy. The weekend after his 9th month of age I had him and the others out quite a bit on Saturday during the day.. it was a beautiful day, but warm. They came in and he again was breathing heavy, I got him to drink some cool water and he laid down on the vent again. Sunday was the same except I didnt keep them (Chance, Belle, Missy & Spanky) out but for an hour until around Noon.

Monday came and I was off to work. Sheila was starting her day in the house cleaning and doing laundry. Around noon she put all the dogs out except Sienna (Italian Greyhound) in preparation to come out shortly and start mowing. Its another beautiful day, a little warmer than the weekend but not by much. Around 1pm I get an emergency phone call from Sheila.. Chance is down. She found him beside the house with the other dogs laying on his side not appearing to be breathing. They had been out less than an hour in otherwise pleasant weather. It didnt make sense why he would be so over heated. She picks him up and pours the large water container all over him to start cooling him down. While on the phone I had told her to get him inside asap and cool him down more.. I made it home in less than 10 minutes. She got him inside by the time I arrived.. he was clearly in distress. We continued to get him cooled down.. he even walked over to the vent - his favorite place to get cool. I got some gatorade in him via syringe but he threw it up. I walked him to his bed in our room so he could have some quiet time to relax and recouperate. I continually checked on him over the next 20 minutes. I then noticed a foul smell, he had soiled himself. But, what was alarming was the fact that it was mostly blood.

Sheila got on the phone with the vet to tell her we were on the way. As I picked him up he became a rag doll in my arms. We had a fitful trip to get to the Vets office due to terrible traffic and an empty gas tank. FINALLY we got to the Vets office and I grabbed him and got him inside.. He was by this time bleeding out through his mouth and his back end. They quickly got an IV into him and started working on him. We were ushered to the waiting room where we both sat in stunned silence.. crying and knowing that this was bad.. very bad. I begged God to help our boy overcome this. I knew that heatstroke in dogs causes organ failure, I was praying it hadnt got that far with Chance.

I saw the vet walking back in the hallway through a window, her face told the story. My heart sank to the floor as she walked in and explained that Chance was not doing well in fact she had to get his heart beating again twice. We walked back to see him laying on the table, tubes coming out of his mouth, blood showed in the tube as the air went back and forth. Sheila and I both broke down.. Immediately I put my hand under his head and kissed his muzzle.. something I had done a thousand times, but this time it was so different. We both ran our hands down his side and talked to him.. almost begging him to "snap out of it".. but we both knew this was going to end badly. The Vet, the same one who only 9 months before had helped us get him on the road to recovery after being tossed in a ditch was telling us that his odds of recovery were almost zero. We "Could" go to the emergency Vet's hospital in Greenville where they could do transfusions and "try" to get him through it.. but she signalled that this was not really an option.. that he would die on the way up. We had a decision to make. What the Vet told us was that some dogs do not aclamate to weather changes, even small ones that well. She said Chance suffered "Acclamation Heatstroke". The other dogs show no signs of any distress whatsoever. Chance just wasn't able to stand warmer weather and there was no way for us to know it.

Through our tears and our crushing grief we both looked at each other and Sheila said "you know we have to let him go".. I was crying and said "I know".. I continued to hold his head in my hands like I always do. You see Chance seemed to get alot more love than the others since he arrived. God in His infinite wisdom knew he wouldn't be with us as long as we thought.. so he got a lifetime of love in just 9 months. When it was time the Vet used his IV to inject the medication that would end his life. As he died I whispered into his ear, "Chance.. mommy and Daddy love you SO MUCH sweet boy".. I again whispered in his ear "You wait for us Chance.. wait for us there Buddy.. "...and he was gone.

Travis, Sheila's son had come when he heard what had happened. Travis took him in his truck as we drove in almost complete silence except for the sound of our overwhelming grief over the sound of the engine. Travis helped to prepare the place where he would lay for eternity. I took a last chance cast of his paw in joint compound and clipped some of his hair and put into a baggie. I had wrapped him in HIS blanket, Travis and I gently lowered him down and I cradled his head once again. As my tears fell into the dirt, I carefully placed handful after handful of soil over his head and we finished our task.

That night Sheila and I just held each other and cried. We both felt the numbing loss of our beloved little boy. I continued to ask God WHY, why Chance? It didnt seem right, I was so mad at God and asked him what was the reason to take such a beloved pet from us. After I had taken my shower I dressed, still partly sobbing from all the thoughts and images of Chance running through my mind. I pulled one of my Christian shirts over my head and down.. I looked at myself in the mirror, face and eyes swollen from crying for hours. The T-shirt I just happen to grab had these words on it,they said, "His Life was Not Pointless". I realized that God was trying to tell me something, that Chance's life indeed had a purpose.

Going to bed that night was exceptionally hard. Putting the dogs down for "nite nite" is something that is a little ritual with all of the dogs. We have a foam mat a little smaller than a single bed alongside the wall next to my side of the bed. Chance always had to go in the middle to get himself comfortable, the rest of the dogs just filled in around him on both sides. Before getting into bed each night I would either get down with him or lean down and kiss him on the muzzle. I always told him "mommy & daddy love chance!".. I am postive that he KNEW this... even as he took his very last breath of life.. he knew his Mommy & Daddy loved him as much as life itself.

As of now its been 24 hours since we lost Chance. Both of us have cried all day at different times as we've thought about Chance and how terribly we both miss him and literally hurt inside for him. How can a dog have such an effect on two people in such a relatively short amount of time. As it is I'm still grieving over the death of my father on March 15th 2009. That has me down quite often too when I think of all the things he and I shared for over 50 years. Now my father has to look over my dog until I get there.. He never really liked dogs, but something tells me he will fall in love with him just as we did.

Chance.. We will Never forget you buddy... dont forget what Daddy told you.. "Mommy and Daddy love you SO MUCH sweet boy, Wait for us Bubbee, wait for us".

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