Life with Dogs

Gaby

Gaby’s mixology and birthday are anyone’s guess, although there’s definitely some breed of terrier in there somewhere. Someone left her tied to the front door of my vet’s office on August 18th, 2008, and the best estimate at that time was that she was about a year and a half old. The King and I had lost the Mickster (see Remembrance of Puppies Past) the month before, and King had taken the loss of his buddy so hard that the vet was concerned. I knew I wanted a second dog, but Gaby was extremely underweight at 26 pounds and I feared that she was too small and that King might hurt her without meaning to. Still, the vet persuaded me to give her a try, and that Friday I brought her home.

I shouldn’t have worried. She and King started playing as soon as entered the backyard. She was the best thing that ever happened to him. She nipped his back legs and nommed on his face and goaded him into chasing her. They played tug o’ war or tag or simply raced around. King had slowed down in his old age, but his little sister kept him young.

Queen of all she surveys.

Gaby went through some pretty nasty GI issues over the course of our first year together, which led to multiple trips to the vet and a visit to a specialist. The diagnosis? Inflammatory bowel disease. So far, I’ve been able to manage it with diet (duck & sweet potato, thank you) and twice daily doses of famotidine. The good news is that she is thriving. Her coat, which had been thin and coarse, is now silky soft and so thick that I need to have her clipped for the summer. She’s also put on a bit of weight, and now weighs about 42 pounds. She’s bold and bouncy and sweet and smart. Did I mention sassy? I would say she looks sassy, wouldn’t you?

King

King was a GSD-Lab mix. He was born at the end of March, 2001, which made him an Aries. If you believe in astrology, truer words. Stubborn, impulsive, energetic, “I AM The King!” Too smart by half. I found him during a check of my company want ads, where I noticed a posting for a 12-week old male puppy. Prince, our previous dog, had been gone for two years by that point, and it was time. I went with my dad to check out this puppy, and found a 28-pound bundle of energy bouncing around with his equally energetic mom and sis. Exuberance as a genetic trait. What I’m trying to say is that I had plenty of warning.

I still brought him home.

Big brother, taking a break.

By the time King turned 11, it was obvious that he had slowed down. He was still as nosy and vigilant as ever, but he also slept more, and those spurts of flat-out dashing about were no more. He developed a fondness for napping on the couch, and couldn’t seem to understand that at one hundred fifteen pounds he didn’t really qualify as a lapdog.

On September 30, 2012, King started acting strangely. Over the course of the day, he lost his appetite, and by late afternoon, he wasn’t really responding to me and seemed reluctant to move. I took him to the emergency clinic, and soon received the news that I had been dreading for a while. King was bleeding in his belly. The likely cause was a cancerous lesion in his liver. He underwent surgery the next day; his spleen and part of his liver were removed. The diagnosis was hemangiosarcoma, a cancer common in GSDs.

After surgery, I brought King home. I decided to try chemotherapy even though the chance of a cure was damn near nonexistent. Treatment allowed us five more months together. Five more months during which King could enjoy treats and play with Gaby and bark at the mailman. Five months for me to say goodbye.

On March 3, 2013, we said goodbye for good.

King