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kayc

Memories of Arlie

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Arlie was a gentle giant.  Ten times in his life he was attacked by other dogs, yet he never bit back.  He was fortunate to have a thick mane that protected his throat because that’s where they usually went for.  I was taking him for a walk and a German Shepherd burst through his gate and went right for him…fortunately a workman got him off of Arlie.  Another time one of the hounds jumped the backyard fence and made a beeline right for him, knocking me down in the process.  The owner, who was nearby, went after the dog, never even checking to see if we were okay.  The rest of the time it was my son’s dog, a couple of times around food, but the last time I remember the look in his eye as he came across the yard and went right for Arlie, who was sitting right next to me.  Arlie had cancer at that time, we just didn’t know it yet.  He took a hunk out of his cheek, it was the last time I had Arlie around him, I decided never again.  Dogs seemed to sense his alpha, although if they’d known him, they’d have known he was no threat.  He was really a wuss at heart, even though he could put up a storm when a workman or someone came that he viewed as an intruder.

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I took my dog to the local vet for a follow up shot and they talked me into getting his teeth cleaned.  I set an appointment and went in for the preliminary blood tests.  The next evening the vet called with the news…Arlie had cancer and his liver numbers were four times higher than they should be, it was barely functioning.  Arlie had lymphoma as well as a tumor right where the crucial organs are…he wasn’t healthy enough for surgery.  He was 11 ½ years old and had lived his life’s span and then some.  I can’t describe what followed, but it was some of the hardest time of my life.  This dog who had been so full of life, always smiling…now going through the battle of his life, and losing. 

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One day during a snowstorm, Arlie sliced his pad all the way to the bone and I needed to take him to the emergency vet about 1 ½-2 hours away.  He rode in the back end of the truck, snow all around and continuing to fall, my only consolation being the cold maybe helped it from hurting so much.  He was a trooper.  We got into the city which had 8” of snow, unusual for the valley.  They had to staple his pad shut, it took four of us to hold him down, I can imagine how scared he felt.  I stopped on the way home and bought up a bunch of bandaging materials because I had to change his bandages a couple of times a day.  He fought me on it, nervous about his wound and protective of it, naturally.  One day he let me change it, no problem!  He wasn’t guarded or anything!  I was surprised…until I got all done and realized I’d bandaged the wrong paw!

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The first month after his diagnosis it was easy to be in denial, it can’t be, maybe they’re wrong, but you knew they weren’t.  One day I went outside to check on him and he was up at the top of our property, outside the fence, smiling!  He’d done what I knew he’d always do…he learned how to open the gate!  He taunted me, waiting to see what I’d offer him to come back.  I called out “Pizza!” and went into the house to get a piece out of the freezer and defrost it.  He was in the kitchen before I was done.  The rest of the evening he laid on the floor, grinning, body heaving as he breathed, so proud of himself!

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I had him on liver supports and his Colitis diet, I walked at his pace.  I learned he was nauseous in the mornings and often delayed his breakfast until he felt more up to it.  I plied him with every treat I felt his Colitis could tolerate, in an effort to keep him from losing weight…and losing the battle I knew was closing in on him.  I repeated my mantra, “Every Day with Arlie is a Good Day!”  “Every Day…” but many were the days he no longer felt like smiling.  He slept more and more and lost energy.  He didn’t always feel like his walks and retreated to his doghouse, that place of security he’d had for years.  I tried not to sob in front of him, but couldn’t always help it.  I set the date.  Other than church on Sunday mornings, I didn’t go anywhere, I stayed home with him.  I counted down…eleven days left, nine, six, one.

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Two days before Arlie died, we went for our walk as always…but he wanted to turn to the right instead of the left…he continued his way down the street, wanting to see his friend dog, Sammy.  He hadn’t been able to see him for a long time, and he made the strenuous effort to make the trek.  He visited Sammy, “played” as much as he could muster, which was weak and more going through the motions than anything, but he got to see her.  I cry as I tell this.  I think he knew his time was near.  He loved Sammy so much, they used to “hang out” under the cedar tree every day.  As he made his way home, it was laborious and difficult for him, he had to stop and rest along the way, but he made it.  He was truly tuckered out from the effort.  I will never forget him going to see his long time friend on his death bed.  Dogs are not that unlike us, just maybe better.

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After we got home, I remember him laying on the couch, worn out, big smile on his face, he was happy all evening for having seen Sammy.

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My son came to my house to help, he collapsed on the floor next to Arlie, sobbing.  I had taken it in gradually, but he got hit with it all at once, the shock of seeing this big beautiful dog, his fur breaking off and brittle, his sad eyes, no energy, liver distended.  Still Arlie tried to smile, even though he wasn’t up to his usual Husky talk.  My son had brought his Baja to take Arlie on the trip to the next town…he was afraid Arlie couldn’t make it up into Arlie’s truck (Nissan).  Good thinking, he barely made it up into the Baja, me hoisting his hind end up.

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I had given him his last walk down the street…all of the neighborhood dogs coming to the street to greet him as we went by, as if they were saluting him goodbye.  I prepared him a special breakfast of scrambled eggs and cheese and mushrooms with his Colitis diet of rice, chicken breast and pumpkin.  He gobbled it down.  We drove to the vet, one he hadn’t met before, they were so wonderful to him.  He weighed in at 107.5 due to all the treats I’d plied him with during his illness.  Probably the only dog with cancer to actually gain weight…most of the time he ate to please me.

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When Arlie turned two he self-appointed himself guard dog.  When he entered that mode, he overrode anything I tried to tell him, he was going to protect me.  (I found it was me he was protecting, not the place so much, one day when the roofer came and I was gone and Arlie didn’t peep…until I came home.)  One day Arlie was laying down by the patio door sleeping when the UPS guy dropped a package on the patio, right by where he was sleeping on the other side of the glass.  Arlie instantly jumped up, with his arms raised he stretched about 6’ tall, and gave the most ferocious loud barking you’ve ever heard!  This was with what appeared to be intent to attack!  The UPS guy got gone quickly!  I’m pretty sure he had to change his clothes after that.  If Arlie didn’t think you belonged there…he wasn’t having it!  One time when Arlie was in the back end of a friend’s truck, we drove by some dogs…when we were safely by, Arlie barked loudly at them, proudly and showing off!  My friend said he had a notion to back up and see if he'd back down in their presence. :unsure:

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They laid down a pile of blankets, gave him all the Easy Cheese he could want…he seemed a little suspicious at first, like “What’s the catch?”  He cried when they gave him the first shot, and then as he went to sleep, they gave the second, me laying with my head next to his, sobbing, telling him about heaven, about all the bones he could want, a giant dog park with no leashes…

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@kayc Thank you for continuing to share about Arlie, I don't come to the forum as often as I did for the few weeks after my dog passed. I guess it brings up emotions that I'm repressing. And my heart goes out for everyone who has lost a best friend, too. 

I remember telling Prince it was alright for him to go; that it's ok to let go now, as he was gasping for breaths. Within a minute, he was gone. I saw the terrified look in his eyes before I said that and knew I had to comfort him and allow him to be free from pain. 

I look forward to reading more about Kitty, too. When I'm ready, I'll write more about Prince's life.

20200308_174754.jpg

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Prince is adorable, I'm glad you shared the picture.  I'll add another memory of Kitty.

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We buried him in the back yard next to my son’s dog Skye.  We prayed over him and covered him up, head facing north, the most beautiful dog in the world, he looked like a giant fox, sweet face, never to see him again.  The tears had just begun for me.

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