On Monday, August 10, our wonderful doggy Flora passed away.
I want to write a tribute post of sorts, about how wonderful a part of my life she was, though I feel I can never do her proper justice.
Flora went by many names. Flora Bean; Foo Foo; Foo; Fuff; Fuffers; Fluff; Fluffers; Floofums; Fluff head/brain; Foof; Baby girl; Sweetheart; Sweetling...
She entered our lives some 8 years ago. A previous dog, Dani, had died the year before, and a one dog household felt too lonely! So we put out the word to several local rescue networks that we were looking for a dog. Soon enough, we got a call telling us about a cheerful, friendly, active, nearly 6 year old Wire Haired Fox Terrier. So we went to meet her, and the rest is history! She'd been through three or four different owners when we got her, possibly because of her incredible energy! She'd also been a mom, probably several times, used in some small scale puppy mill type setup, I believe. But despite her quite likely not too happy previous life, she was such a happy thing! She would race up and down the house, bum tucked in, tongue hanging out in a huge doggy smile. She loved to play. She also loved people. Not long after we got her, she decided to go for a walk. Now, we were all terrified that we would never find her again, but it turns out all she'd done was walk straight into a neighbors house (they'd left their door open), and hop up on the couch between their two teenagers to cuddle and watch TV!
She was also downright crazy. The high pitched sounds of beeping or squeaking, especially eletronic (i.e. microwave, stove, smoke alarm. God she HATED the smoke alarm!) would drive her crazy, and she's start barking and digging at the floor. We thought we had mice until we realized she was just insane. :-P
More than all her funny quirks and our early times together, though, I remember how very much she loved us. I'd get down on the floor, at her level, to pet her, our eyes would meet, and she'd just stare at me lovingly with those deep brown eyes, while trying to lick my mouth. She loved cuddling. Always. She loved having her belly rubbed, or just lying near us. As the years slid by, she slept increasingly large amounts of time, and her energy levels decreased, but her sweetness certainly didn't. She loved everyone, but her family especially, as she never ceased to show. She loved us so much. And we loved her. We called her our follow me dog, since she'd usually be following my mom, or me as she neared the end, around the house, stopping to lie by our feet when we stopped, getting up to stay close behind when we'd move on.
She was old, starting to sleep more and all that, but things were fine until she started pacing. She'd pace constantly. She was quieter, seemingly less happy. So we brought her to the vet and they ran some tests. A few days after that, when the vet still hadn't figured out what was wrong, and my mom was out of town for the entire day, she started having seizures. That was honestly one of, if not the, worst day of my life. Without my mom there, her primary care fell on me. The vet was closed, so we couldn't bring her in. And although my dad loves her, she wasn't his dog. My sister Emi and I would watch her, make sure she was comfortable, bring her out to pee, give her food and water, support her when she could hardly walk. That day seemed to stretch on forever. All I kept thinking, and praying to the universe, was to please get to see her happy one more time. After, if it was her time, she could go. But I wanted to see the Foo Foo I knew one more time. When the vet opened a couple days later (she got sick on Friday, I believe, so they were closed for the weekend) we had her straight in. This time they knew what was wrong. It was most likely a brain tumor, causing her to have seizures. They proscribed steroids, which often help shrink tumors, and you know what? Within a few days, she was HAPPY!! She got back to her old trick of going outside then turning right around, coming in, and asking excitedly for a biscuit, since, you know, she'd been good and gone out! :-P She started following us everywhere again, looking at us lovingly with those sweet brown eyes, cuddling happily. She even played with our other dog Winston and my dad! She was good, if still slightly physically weak, for about a month. Just before we left for the cottage, she was starting to do not quite as well, but she was still okay. Halfway through the cottage, she took a turn for the worse. The meds just stopped working. She started having multiple seizures a day. All she did was pace and sleep. She didn't know us. Didn't come when called. She tried to eat everything in sight: rocks, plants, pieces of wood, our toes. We got back last Saturday, and on Monday we brought her to the vet. Is there anything that can be done? We asked, though I was pretty sure I knew the answer. Once the symptoms come back when they're on steroids, the vet with a kind face told us, upping the dose doesn't work, and although she could give us meds that would keep her body alive, there was nothing we could do to reclaim her mind. So we had her put down. She wasn't aware of anything around her anymore. Didn't notice the needle in her leg. Her body passed peacefully. As I said to my family, her mind, her soul, had passed days before. The lights were on but nobody was home. All we did was turn off the lights.
It wasn't a hard decision, because there really wasn't any other choice. She certainly wasn't enjoying life, if she even realized she was living anymore, and it was torture for us to see her like that, and know we couldn't help. What it was, was an incredibly sad decision, and one of the hardest things I've ever gone, and am going, through. But I just kept saying, and keep thinking, that the universe answered my prayer. I got to see her truly happy, truly herself, once again before she died. I'm eternally grateful for that. And really, what else can I ask? I have so, so many happy memories. So much love. She brightened up my life, and I'll always be grateful she was a part of it. Right now all I can feel is sadness, but I know as time passes, all the good memories, the good feelings, will be what I remember, and all the sadness that will be left is the tiniest twinge of regret that I only got 8 years to be with her...