Acquiring A Broken Heart


Buddy Girl during a winter frisbee session. Her favorite game. (But aren’t they all!)
Resting easily on her favorite rug during the final hours at home.

It is said that when a person acquires a dog, or most any pet, that they are acquiring a broken heart. Most people will outlive many pets during their lifetime.

The dog above, was our most recent entry into that reality. Her name was Buddy Girl. She was not always our pet, we adopted her from a relative that couldn’t care for her about 5 years ago. She was in and out of my life for 5 years prior to that.

This is my first blog post since March 11.

Late on the evening of Friday March 12 her demeanor changed dramatically. A normally energetic, playful and friendly dog became lethargic and her eyes that normally are bright and constantly aware became dull and distant.

This had happened a few times in the past, usually in the evening. By morning, she would be back to her energetic and happy self…but not this time. On Saturday she was still lethargic and refused to eat.

We made the decision to take her into the vet. By this time, she was unable to get up on all four feet. Jeff, our neighbor across the street was kind enough to help me carry her to my car and off to the emergency animal clinic in Madison, WI we go.

She was able to sit up for much of the trip and we hope she was able to enjoy her final road trip during the 45 minute drive to Madison.

We pre-registered on the phone before getting there and were instructed to call when we arrived so a technician could come out to our car and get her. There were other pet owners ahead of us when we arrived. After about a 20 to 30 minute wait a young man came out to our car.

He asked a few history questions while checking her gums. Our answers were interrupted by the young man as Buddy’s gums were being checked. He politely excused himself to get a gurney for her and stated as he departed quickly that her gums are white, they should be pink. This was a very bad omen.

To make a long story short, the vet called us about an hour after taking her in stating that an ultra sound exam showed that Buddy had a mass that burst, probably cancerous but she could not be positive. There was massive internal bleeding. The blood had been drawn out of her, the heart was being monitored and the vet called us to ask how to proceed.

(Side note: The vet mentioned that she probably had a series of smaller bleeds that clotted up. That explains the short lived altered personality described earlier in the post.)

We could’ve approved an operation, but the vet estimated that at best we would buy Buddy Girl up to 2 months of life. We chose to not put the dog or us through this trauma and had Buddy Girl euthanized.

We were allowed to enter the clinic and spend some time with her before and during the procedure. When they wheeled her into the room she popped up with alertness. As soon as Buddy Girl was wheeled in front of Beth, the dog collapsed into Beth’s arms tail wagging.

When Beth’s arms tired I traded places with her. As Beth walked around to the other side of the gurney, Buddy girl sat up and followed her around. Beth gently lay the dog back into my arms and that is where she stayed until the procedure was mercifully over.

Can you tell that Beth is the caretaker in our household?

The procedure is quick and painless. After checking for a lack of heartbeat, Beth cried and I held her. Then some quiet time to reflect during the 45 minute drive back home.

This dog had a sweet demeanor and was easy to love. However, I didn’t choose her and I thrust her into Beth’s life. Every time we wanted to go somewhere, arrangements had to be made. Emergency trips were a huge issue and at times we were disgruntled with the family member that acquired her without the ability to care for her.

Buddy Girl was 85 pounds and nearly 6 feet long. If we hadn’t cared for her, she would most likely have been at the Humane Society until they put her down. I could be wrong, but I do not think so.

Did I mention that Buddy Girl was an absolute sweetheart? Well she was. Despite not wanting a dog, we really liked this dog.

Suddenly routine and responsibility due to dog ownership was at an end. We thought it would be a good thing…and for the most part it is. We are still collecting and organizing dog items like bowls, food, toys, grooming tools, and etc. Garage sale to follow. Wait for it.

However, there was routine that no longer occurs and it just feels odd. Feeding was 10:00 am and 10:00 pm. She would tell us when the time passed. There were morning and bed time constitutionals. Dog owners do not have to be told that dropping food on the floor suddenly means more clean up by the humans when there is no dog around.

I frequently write and say that Beth and I are empty nesters. That was not true until Saturday March 12, 2021. The term is now accurate.

We are free to move about the country without worrying about arranging boarding or a dog sitter. That will be nice…but there is something missing that we didn’t think we would miss…

Published by R Dub's Rub

Conversational BLOG writer and contributing writer for LocaLeben magazine. My BLOG entries represent observations that intrigue, amuse, inspire or stimulate my appetite.

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