Quote of the week:

“They'd have to shoot me to get me back to Illnois."

~Abraham Lincoln upon going to WDC to become president

Friday, April 4, 2008

Euckie the WONDER(ful) Dog

This is a long post. It’s been a while since I’ve written. I hope you will bear with me and read through to the end—not for me, but for the subject of this post. The pictures here are of Euckie. She was my constant and faithful, loyal companion for almost 11 years. Yesterday, (Thursday April 3, 2008) I had Euckie put to sleep. This is her tribute.

I adopted Euckie from the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago. They thought she was about a year old when I got her. She had been badly abused. One eye was smaller, and that ear was cocked differently from the other. This was a result of being hit or struck on her head from her abuser(s). My personal theory is that she was hit by or dumped from a car, as she totally wigged out if we crossed a busy, high trafficked street or road.

About 2-3 weeks ago, she had a seizure in the middle of the night. The past 3 nights in a row, she had seizures again, each one progressively worse. She seemed to be more impaired after each one. She knew something had happened, and it just freaked her out. Last night it took about 3 hours to ‘bring her down’.

When I called to make the appointment on Tuesday, I knew/felt in the pit of stomach that we were going to the vet, and I was going to come back home alone. Wednesday night, I made her eggs with cheese. Eggs for breakfast is--was a weekend treat for both of us. Instead of her usual one treat per night, she got one every time she went to the cabinet and stared up at the cookie jar with her treats. We had a great night until the last seizure that night—less than 24 hours after the previous one. I begged to the universe, “Let’s us get through Thursday without a seizure. Let this day be as good as possible for her.” This was of course before I knew what the outcome of the trip was going to be.

The vet said that the exam indicated that the seizures were neurological in nature, and that most likely were the result of a brain tumor, given her age and other symptoms. He said I could have had a CT or MRI done to confirm, and if confirmed, there was nothing that could be done.

After the procedure he told me that if she’d been his dog, he would have made the same decision, which at least helped me to feel that I’d made the correct decision, albeit a hard one—actually, the decision wasn’t hard. Following through was. My best friend G (and Euckie’s favorite human) went with me and was with us. We stayed with her, and I held her while she received the IV.

She was the most loving dog I have ever known. Although I’m biased, this is a sentiment that myriad people have said to me over the past 10 + years, time and time again. Last Thanksgiving, at Mom & Dad’s, my sister-in-law told me she’d never seen a dog so devoted to its master before. The devotion was mutual, but I’m certain she was better than I. She was the most loyal and faithful companion, and greatly loved by pretty much everyone who knew her. I think that the best testament of that is this. As I’ve come home and told two different neighbors, they broke down, crying, with me. It wasn’t just for my loss, but because they loved Euckie for the great and loving dog she was. That’s a testament to her, not to me. People consistently have told me, “she such a lucky dog to have gotten you.” That’s not correct. I’m the lucky one. We-I {the fucking strikethrough function isn't transfering on blogger-italics followed by bold indicates what should be a strikethrough replaced word} currently live in a Co op. When I was buying this place, before my offer could be accepted, I had to be interviewed and approved by the other owners of the building. (It’s one of the differences between a co op and a condo.) There had not been a dog in the building before, so we both had to be interviewed, and ‘pass the test’. After we were accepted and moved in, I was told that J my neighbor P’s son, kept asking, not when is the new man moving in, but “When’s the dog moving in?” Euckie was already in like Flynn. The jury was still out on me!

I think that she chose me as much as I chose her 11 years ago at Anti Cruelty. I had been going back every Saturday, after I moved to my first condo. It was almost two months of returning either seeing dogs that had already been adopted, or not ‘connecting’ with a dog. With Euckie, it was immediate. Here was this emaciated, anorexic, terribly frightened dog, with a crooked face and smile, who looked like a patchwork quilt. As one friend commented, “She looks like she was put together by committee!” She was an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix. She was damned smart!

They had given her some name that just didn’t fit. I don’t even remember what it was, now. I used to be a florist. My dogs have been named after plants. My previous dog that I got after college (the first time) was named “Ficus”. I wanted to continue the tradition. Since my new vocation was healthcare, I wanted somehow to tie that in. Eucalyptus is a plant with healing properties. It’s native to Australia. It was a trifecta—plant, health, native origins! It was shortened to Euckie.

Here are a couple of my favorite Euckie Stories:

Not long after I got her, I took her downstate to Mom & Dad’s. She didn’t do well in the car the first few times. (I think she’d been dumped from a car.) But she came to love car rides, especially to Mom & Dad’s because she could be off the leash and run free. The first time we did that, I took her to my old high school, across the street, and she ran in the practice football field. I apparently was not keeping up with her, enough to suit her anyway. She began circling big and ‘herding’ me to get me to go where she wanted me to be.

She loved chasing squirrels. She almost caught them couple of times. Had she not been on her leash, I have not doubt that she would have. She’s the only dog I’ve ever seen who tried (and nearly succeeded) to climb a tree, while chasing a squirrel.

When Mom and Dad came up here after my first shoulder surgery, I was unable to sleep in my bed and was sleeping my recliner club chair in the living room. In the morning, I heard Mom, whispering, “Euckie, come here. Come here. It’s time for your walk.” (Euckie was always eager for her morning ‘constitutional’.) She had camped out beside my chair, and would not leave my side. It wasn’t until I told her it was ‘OK to go’, and I had to get up and take to the door, before she would go with Dad for her walk.

A few months ago I read the book, “Dog Years: A Memoir” by Mark Doty, which is a great book. I highly recommend it. At the time I didn’t realize it was preparing me for today, but in some ways as I read it, I knew that it was. Now it’s almost spooky. I have many pages ‘dog eared’—how apropos. At the end of chapter 1 he writes about his dog Beau. As this is not a critical article, nor a review, copyright infringement prohibits me from excerpting it. So GO BUY HIS BOOK, especially if you’re a dog lover! But he talks about how during his dark times, how his dog(s) gave him his will to live. I totally got that. Euckie did that for me, when my life was at its worst. I wish I could have conveyed that to her. She truly was my savior. One of the serendipitous things about reading the book when I did, is that it made me much more consciously aware that Euckie was getting older, and it caused me to spend more time with her. Instead of sitting at the computer constantly, I’d stop and play ‘tug ball’ with her when she’d bring a toy up to me. Or, I’d stop, and go sit or lie down with her on the floor and pet her. She was nearly 50 pounds, but she thought she was a lap dog. I later regretted that I got rid of that green leather club chair a couple of years ago, because that was ‘our chair’. We didn’t have a good sharing place after I gave that chair away. She made me a better human.

I had her--We had each other for almost 11 years. She outlasted a serious relationship and a few boyfriends. I will--do miss her terribly.

My quote on my home page is the perfect closing. I would just add, if there is anything I’m certain of, if there is a heaven, Euckie is one of those dogs.



GDad said...

That was a beautiful post. My thoughts are with you.

Ben said...

So sorry to hear it. She sounds like a wonderful dog that had some great times.

BeachGirl said...

I'm sorry :( I know how hard it is-a month ago today, I lost my cocker-cavalier to IMHA. She was a rescue dog with the worst separation anxiety when I adopted her...and she spent the past two years glued to my side every possible moment.

gay CME guy said...

Thanks everyone, who either posted here or sent me personal emails.
Beachgirl: I bet Euckie could have rivaled your dog in the separation anxiety department! Once the suitcase came off the shelf from the closet, she started stressing out. IF it was a trip that she was coming with me, she was in the back of the car, as soon as the hatch cracked open. I couldn't get her out to put her blanket (or my luggage in).