Sunday, October 04, 2009

my sister's dog

His paws were enclosed in baby socks, and his honey-brown head lay sadly on the vet's examination couch. There was a pool of blood a palm's width across where his muzzle rested on the paper mat beneath him. Two clear tubes snaked into his nostrils, and a bag of fluid hung nearby, connecting into him. I expected I'd get teary but didn't expect I would lose the ability to speak altogether when I saw him. He's not my dog, he's my sister's. Was my sister's.

My sister called him Waltah. Not Walter, but Waltah, to reflect how she always said his name - in a mushy, silly, adoring way. We all teased her when she named her dog Waltah. But in the end, we forgot he had a silly name, and we came to love him for his adoring, affectionate ways, for his earnest obedience and for his doggy joie de vivre. Staffy dogs are the bomb. And he was a wonderful Staffy.

Yesterday, my sister's friend took Waltah for a short walk (my sister is overseas). Within minutes, Waltah began to pant heavily, and his breathing became laboured. The vet diagnosed heat exhaustion, and Waltah was cooled, given fluids and oxygen, was catheterised, plied with medications, and sedated. He rallied at first, but then his kidneys failed. After several hours, the vet told us Waltah could not survive this. A decision had to be made. Waltah looked exhausted. He turned his brown eyes my way and my sister's friend and I told the vet to go ahead.

First we held a mobile phone to his sweet doggy head and my sister crooned her love for her 'hairy child' (as she calls him) into his ear. We laughed at the ridiculousness of holding the phone up to Waltah while we cried at the sadness of my sister not being able to say goodbye in person to her beloved pup. His eyes stayed open as she talked to him, and I believe he heard my sister's voice. I hope it gave him comfort.

And then, as Waltah looked at us wearily, and as the vet pushed the plunger on the syringe, my sister's friend and I stroked Waltah's head and ears gently, and I told him, "Good boy Waltah, you're such a good boy." Because he was.

19 comments:

Meggie said...

Jelly, I have been thinking of you so much lately.
What a bittersweet post. I cannot think about saying goodbye to my fur babies.
I have no religion, as you might know, but I just know dog's perfection lives on & on!
Huge HugsXX

Puss-in-Boots said...

Oh no, Jelly. I feel so much for sister. Your story is heartrending, I'm in tears and I know exactly how you all feel. Waltah has gone to a better place over the Rainbow Bridge.

fifi said...

How dreadful.
Heat exhaustion? Unbelievable.


I think the grief which overcomes you when you lose an animal-child is always so surprising....when my first child (hairy) left me I was inconsolable for months.


I hope your sister is ok. She will miss him so much.





(perhasp

Heather said...

Oh, my sweet Jelly! I am sending you a ginormous hug.

XOXO

Motherkitty said...

Now you made me cry and I can't stop. What a very sad thing to lose a beloved member of the family. Please give my condolences to your sister for her loss. Even if she wasn't there in person for his transition, your sister's lovely sister and best friend were there to carry the burden and pet his head with love.

John Cowart said...

A tragic thing, beautifully written.

Stomper Girl said...

That is just so sad. Your poor sister and poor Waltah.

freefalling said...

Heartbreaking.
Bye Waltah.

TUFFENUF said...

I am sad when we lose our furry friends. Truly a dog is mans best friend. We know when we get dogs that they only will live 10 or 12 years. We have them anyway; knowing the joy they will give us. So sorry for the loss of Waltah. Glad you are writing again.

Isabelle said...

How very sad. A beautiful tribute. But oh dear.

Remiman said...

Jellyhead,
You always have a way of making the intolerable, tolerable.
rel

Susan said...

You stood in your sister's place admirably, she will love you for it and for your beautiful words.

Alipurr said...

oh that is so sad....

Kerri said...

What a sweet tribute to a dear pooch. Poor sweet Waltah, and your poor sister!...how sad to be far away at such a time. A comfort though, I'm sure, knowing you and her friend were there to love and care for him in his hour of need.
Your words are touching, dear Jelly, and brought a tear or two. Our furry friends do become close to the heart, don't they?

DayByDay4-2Day said...

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thisisme said...

Another gorgeous post that brought me to tears

Isabelle said...

Jellyhead, this is very very sad and I keep checking to see if you've posted again and I get all sad again. Please post a cheery message!

Meggie said...

Jelly, hello? Hope everything is ok in your world. We do miss youXX

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

How sad...