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Saying Goodbye to my Best Friend
A Testament to Love
In 1998, my 8 year old corgi Duchess was euthanized due to spreading cancer throughout her sweet little body. It was important to be with her during this process as I did not wish for her to be alone. Several days later, my son and I went to the vets office to pick up Duchess' ashes and bring them home. While waiting for them, my son spied a post on the bulletin board of the vets office for a two sheltie puppies recently born.
I had a sheltie when I was ten years old and love the breed. "Little Lassies" are what people cal them, but they are a completely different breed. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors and we fell in love with the little girl we went to see and named her "Chloe- Gift of Duchess". From the beginning Chloe slept beside my bed and followed me across the country and back. Her legacy included traveling about four times in our RV across the country, living in the RV with us for 2.5 years and adapting to the multitude of health concerns that befell her.
Weighing only 20 pounds and standing less than 12 inches high, she was the coziest lap dog and loved to rock in the rocking chair. Chloe met my husband when she was 1.5 years old and fell in love with him immediately. She loved the calming energy in his hands.. There was nothing she would not let him do to her. Shave her belly, brush her fur, (even when matted) and bathe her in the bathtub. Chloe was a feisty little girl when she was younger and would "dance" and spin around when she wanted attention or a treat.
When we worked at a mini storage facility, she would sit on the couch next to the wall of where the office was located. She would hear the calming voice of my husband and know he was right behind the wall next door. When I would return after teaching a night class at the college nearby, she would anticipate my car door slamming and wait eagerly at the door for me to come through and greet her. She knew what time I would arrive and was always ready to welcome me home.
Early in our relationship, my husband walked her to the corner store in Lake Tahoe, CA when he went to purchase some needed items and hooked her leash to a pole. A car came through and scared her and she backed out of her leash. Taking off down the road in a flurry, Chloe decided to run down the middle of it! Traffic came to a dead standstill as my husband ran after her and was able to scoop her up safely! We were so grateful the people there loved animals and stopped their cars for her.
Chloe has been to many historical locations! She went to Mt Rushmore, walked along the beaches of both United States coastlines and even was aboard a clipper ship in Maine. Born in Texas, she lived in AZ, NV, KY, ME, NH, MA, and WA states. She was a well seasoned traveler who loved sitting in the grass and sniffing the air.
In 2006, Chloe was diagnosed with Lyme disease from ticks in Massachusetts. She was so ill and had to endure gastric reflux and other maladies. When we moved to WA state, she had to have several abscessed teeth removed, and endured much pain. Later that year she developed a urinary infection and it was found she had an enlarged heart. She had started to go into congestive heart failure, but we were able to get it under control. At the same time, a doctor gave her an ultrasound and found she had bladder cancer starting.
Opting to forgo chemotherapy, we focused on alternative medicine. Chloe was given a window of 2-6 months. It would cost $1500 for chemo and would extend her life 2 months, plus she would throw up and be miserable. We did not want that for our girl. We found that carbs create more cancer cells, so we switched her diet to raw dog food, but later cooked it like meatloaf. We added plain yogurt to it to alleviate the gas, and we added cranberry tabs and Graviola, which is a herbal cancer remedy. It will not cure cancer....but will help the tumor stay small and not grow. We added heart medication and lasix, which was helpful in keeping the urine flow. About this time, Chloe went deaf and so we got a Labrador puppy to take up the "guard dog" position and let Chloe retire from that chore.
Chloe thrived in her environment and did well on the treatment. We knew she would never be "cured" but we enjoyed every single moment of having her in our lives. She continued to be an active family member, but now we carried her up the stairs, and let her use the deck for her place of relief. We left the sliding door open for her to have the freedom to go out at all times, even in the dead of winter. And as time went on, our daily prep and her care became a second nature to us.
She developed a kennel cough in May of 2011 and I slept on the floor with her upstairs in order to be near her if she needed me. Chloe took awhile to stop the coughing and it wore her down. It had been 2.5 years since she was diagnosed and she was wearing out. She had another abscessed tooth that became inflamed and we had it removed, but the infection was pretty bad. She refused to eat and seemed to be shaking from being weak and tired. Her urine stain was tinged brown and her blood panels were the highest the vet had ever seen. The time came to make a decision I did not want to make. I had to let Chloe go.
My husband and I were devastated. We placed Chloe on the chair in the living room and "told her" we were releasing her from her pain and suffering. We held a small ceremony with her watching with rapt attention. We rocked her gently, and told her how we loved her. There was a quiet dignity about this angel, she was such a strong survivor. At the vets office I refused to give her to the vets assistant, telling her I mus be the one who held her as she passed. Chloe looked into my husbands eyes and he told her he loved her....she went limp in my arms and her eyes went blank. She was gone. We fell apart together and sobbed tears of sadness and pain. My daughter stood with us and offered support, as she had loved her as had we.
Leaving her was difficult. I laid her down and kissed her sweet head and cheek and fixed her tail so she was lying perfectly on her side. I ridiculously worried she might fall off the table when I left the room. Chloe taught me trust, acceptance, and love. Her countenance was angelic and full of grace. I have cried a thousand tears of woe over her passing. She will be missed more than words can say. My husband and I agreed that with her passing we are suffering a different kind of pain. Our true and endearing friend who loved us so much in her most unselfish way was now at the Rainbow Bridge, and we had to now wait to meet again in the afterlife. The love of a treasured pet is indescribable. No one knows unless it happens to them and then it is a personal suffering.
Bella came to us in 2009. Bella-Gift of Chloe. She is a sheltie who is not to replace or be compared to Chloe, but to be loved in her own right, until the day comes when we will part. Dogs do not live long enough. They worm their way in to our hearts and offer us so much by being present to the now with no thought to tomorrow. How I will miss them all when the time comes to say goodbye.