Monday, December 24, 2012

On Losing a Friend

Ro, in happier and healthier days

You would think that on this farm where we have so many animals and traditionally have so many dogs, that it would be easier when one nears his or her passing.  The funny thing is that even though it's a normal and expected part of the rhythm of life, it just doesn't get easier.
                 In 1999, after we moved out to the country to our first farm that we built, my daughter and I went out one day to the edge of one of the cities which is within a days commute. While we were there we stopped at a Dairy Queen which has long since closed and been replaced by something else.   My daughter and I each got a small cone, and the woman who has working the DQ that day asked us if we wanted a dog. We told her the truth which was that we already had several dogs on our farm and didn't really need any.  She proceeded to tell us that a female Jack Russell Terrier mix had been dropped off at her apartment complex, and that she didn't want to take her to the pound, but couldn't keep her.  She proceeded to take us to her car where the dog was "napping".  How bad could a napping dog who waits for you to finish working really be ?  When the woman got to the car, she found the interior of her (thankfully) older car, chewed to bits !  The woman was upset, and I had plenty of places we could station a small watchdog, and so we brought her home.  Our daughter named her Rosheen, (written for pronunciation) although the Irish Gaelic spelling is Roisin.  The dog has been a great joy to our daughter, to all of us, and also to our young son Daniel who passed suddenly at the beginning of the Christmas Season now four years ago.   Rosheen became the mate to Angus a hunting dog who ran away to us some years ago. They happily shared a room, like an old married couple, in our dog kennel for years.  When Angus died at an extremely old age at the beginning of December, Ro was depressed.  We have been doing our best to keep Ro comfortable and entertained, but she too is getting older, and doesn't seem to want to continue.
                This week, we realized that Ro's malaise wasn't just simple depression.  At 14, she is an older dog and is prone to a number of issues.  This week we found that she has a urinary tract infection, and may have some kidney involvement. She is improving on an antibiotic, but doesn't seem to want to eat.  We moved her from the kennel to a heated barn room where we have a refrigerator, and the ability to care for her a bit better.  She is sleeping on a waffle mattress with sheets on it, and with chux on top.  A couple of days ago she drank quite a bit from her yellow water bucket, but now, even that is waning. We spent the day periodically feeding her warm lemon gatorade with a large plunger syringe.  We have tried tempting her with broiled chicken, chicken soup with noodles, even small pieces of steak.  Today we tried turkey baby food and got a little bit in her.

Ro, in her kennel room.

                 It's always hard to see the impending passage of a good friend. We remember Ro first as a year old dog when we first got her. Then as a young adult dog who was happy to welcome Angus when he finally became a member and not just an observer to our first farm.  She remained a good watch dog as we moved to our second farm.   She and Angus were here for the passings of our dogs Albert, Spook, Susan, Jake, Alvin, Mark,  most of which lived to extremely advanced ages.   Her passing is a reminder that very soon, the family we raised, and even the son we adopted after they were, will be raised.  Time is not just passing for Ro, and for the animal members of this farm, but for me, and for my family as well.
                Tonight I pray that Ro will either improve enough to live comfortably for a few more months or so, or that she will pass easily, without discomfort.  When she does, I will certainly miss her.

UPDATE:   Rosheen passed on December 28, 2012 at 5:15 pm.    She slept peacefully on the sponge mattress we had fashioned for her, and I checked her hourly.  Her respirations became shallow and when I checked her one more time at 5:15, and stroked her head, she took one last breath, and went Home. 

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