(And NO, I did not name her Ali because I am a scrapbooker. Her name was Ali before we adopted her)
Today is such a bad day. Today my husband and I made the very difficult decision to let Ali go. Her health has been deteriorating over the past months, and getting really bad the last few days. This morning, she did not even want to take a treat, which is so not like her. So today I took her to work with me, so I could put her to sleep. It's hard enough to put other people's pets to sleep, even when it is the right thing to do. It is much harder still to do my own. She sat in the front seat, her favorite seat, and spent a little time looking out the window. Most of the time, she just wanted me to pet her. And when I stopped for a moment, to rest my hand on the gear shift like I usually do, she would paw at my hand until I put it back on her head.
(This picture was taken on Memorial Day)
We adopted Ali a few years ago. Her previous owners were already considering taking her to Bassett Rescue, when she fell ill. They brought her into the clinic, where she was diagnosed with Addison's Disease. When a dog has Addison's, or hypoadrenocorticism, the adrenal glands do not do their job properly to make the steroids the body needs to function. They become dehydrated, depressed, can start vomiting and be very sick as their electrolytes get more and more out of whack. There is a treatment for it, which is good, but it can be expensive, which is not. And it is really more of a "management" than a "treatment" as they need to have injections every 3-4 weeks, sometimes oral medications too, or they will have a relapse. Also, the medications can have some side effects - making the dogs drink a lot, and urinate a lot.. they gain weight, and need special diets.. they can develop other endocrine diseases (such as thyroid disease or diabetes). So there is a big commitment when it comes to taking care of an Addison's dog. If the owner can handle the commitment, the dog can live quite happily for several years. For Ali, another big problem is that she is a Bassett, which is a breed that has deformed front legs (and her were particularly bad), and is very prone to hip dysplasia, ear and skin infections, allergies and eye problems. One of the worst parts of my job is not being able to FIX everything, sometimes all we can do is patch it, and hope it works.
(Sneaking a nap on the couch, with Mom's favorite blanket)
My husband drives a semi, and ever since I met him, he has told me he wanted to have a Bassett (think Fred from Smokey and the Bandit). So we talked to Ali's owners to see if they would let us adopt her instead of putting her to sleep. They agreed, and she became ours. Once she was well enough, she went on the road with my husband, and loved it. I have never seen a dog so happy in a truck. I used to call her AliFred, because she was a truck Bassett. She loved to be on the road, and danced in the driveway every time he was getting ready to leave. She knew his truck, not only by sight, but also by sound. Gary took her medicine with her, and always had an extra injection in case he couldn't make it home by the time she needed her shot. Unfortunately, her frequent potty stops did not work well with a trucker's schedule, and my husband had to make the decision to leave her at home. She was NOT happy. She liked the rest of us well enough... but she wanted to be on the road with him. I always knew when Gary was coming home with the truck - she heard him long before I did. She loved that Freightliner, and growled at the new truck he got after the Freightliner was sold.
(Sitting with Dad one of the days he was home)
She loved the kids too, and played with them unless it was cold. With her arthritis and hip dysplasia, she did not tolerate the cold very well. Even medications were not as helpful as I wanted them to be. We made her a bed - thick foam cushion, warm fleece cover - it even had a blanket. She loved her bed. It was in the living room, right in front of the TV, where she could still see everything that was going on. All we had to do was tell her to get in the sleeper, and there she was. She would snuggle under the blanket when she was cold, until all you saw was the tip of her nose.
(I had set the laundry in the living room after coming home from the laundromat, and a lot of it ended up on her bed. She tried to sleep on the last little corner that was left)
She loved company.. a little too much, sometimes.. Anybody sitting on the ground or the floor was fair game. She loved to sit on the couch and sleep with my husband when he was napping there, though we didn't let her get on the couch too much as her hips worsened. She even loved the cats, and would play with them outside (and not in a mean way, like some dogs do.) She loved to investigate all the babies, though she didn't really like the chicks, but she would lick the lambs and try to clean them. She had bad habits too - getting into the trash, jumping on the couch when she wasn't supposed to, sneaking into the cat food.. but they were mostly tolerable.
(This picture was taken the day Jones was delivered. She so wanted the boys to play with her.)
(Playing with Patrick again)
She didn't mind Rhi dressing her up - as a hula girl, as Underdog, as a witch. She had a pirate costume for Halloween. My mom made her pajamas at Christmas last year, the same as everyone else. She never complained, until the last few months when her arthritis started to hurt her more.
(Playing dressup with Rhi)
She always wanted to be the center of attention... while I had the kids posed for Memorial Day pictures on the back of the trailer, she came over and wanted to be part of it to. 20 minutes of trying to get a decent photo... and she sat there the entire time. All she wanted was to be where everyone else was.
She loved kisses and chewies. She loved just sitting there being petted. She loved playing with Gary as he teased her by jingling her "prettypretty" (her collar and tags). She loved to ride in the truck and the car. She would follow us everywhere on the farm. She would bark at the sheep and play with the cats.
(sitting in the driveway with Rhi, waiting for Patrick's science experiment to work)
We have a nice, quiet little room with a couch and a coffee table at work, to allow a little privacy for the families for these type of days. I gave Ali the first injection while she was on the table, and she laid her head on my chest, trying to climb into my lap. So I let her, and I let her sit on the couch with me (which is something she was not allowed to do). She sat in my lap, wagging her tail as she fell asleep. And I cried. Afterwards, I still had to work. Not the easiest thing in the world. Especially as there were two other pets there today for the same thing.
So today was a very bad day, and I was very sad when I was driving home, with her in the back, on her way home to be buried. I couldn't help but wonder if she was mad at me, or thought I didn't try hard enough to fix her, or if she just didn't understand or thought we didn't love her anymore. And right after I had that thought, I looked up into the sky, and saw a huge cloud in front of me, that looked like a dancing dog with wings. I wish I had had my camera with me. Because seeing that, I knew she understood, and I had no doubts she loves me. And I know I will see her again.
And I'll tell you something else.. if dogs don't go to Heaven - I'm not going either.
We buried Ali in our little pet cemetary, near Rachel and the other cats. Gary gave her his hat and the vest she used to sleep on in the truck. I put in my favorite photo of her and Gary, so they would always be together. We gave her one of her favorite chewies, and Rhi and I picked flowers from the garden to give her. Then my brother buried her for us, as Gary had to go back on the road before I got home. And all of us, as much as we complained about her being underfoot, cried when we realized she never would be again.
(dancing in the driveway)
Keep dancing, baby girl - at least now it won't hurt you when you do. I love you, Ali. And you will definitely be missed.