|She always made sure our blind dog (prissy) ate first|
|She sat before coming into the house|
|tolerated and LOVED our son C|
|Tristen, spring of 2011 I miss you girl!|
The saddest thing I could ever imagine happened yesterday. I don't even know how best to chronicle the events of this Christmas, it was both a great and horrible holiday for our family.
I should start by telling you about the one we lost.
Tristen, born the week of 4-14-07 (the day P and I were married) came to be with us as a member of our family at ten weeks old. I already had an ache to have a baby, after such a short time being married. I think my issue was the post wedding let down. After spending months with that being my only focus I finally had gotten married and had nothing new to look forward to and fell into a sort of depression. I should have been uber happy, but I wasn't. We moved into a bigger house, and it hit even harder, I ended up quitting my job and Tristen got me through it.
I was walking out of the retail store I worked at one evening, on my way home and saw a truck with a sign posted on the side and a kennel full of terriors. I have a small terrier chihuahua mix and had no interest in getting another little dog, but then I saw a note on the sign that said they had one lab/chow mix puppy for $20. I asked if the puppy was still availible and the people explained that she wasn't actually their dog but their neighbors and that they didn't know much about her, but that she seemed friendly and was the only one left. I asked to hold her and she was just this big ball of fluff. A soft long haired baby. I called P and asked him if he wanted a sweet little puppy, and he reluctantly and excidedly agreed that I could write the check....
We have often said that it was the best $20 we ever spent.
Unfortunately it was friday night and that is the night we had bible study, so the poor baby had to spend her first evening at a new house alone. We came home to a puppy covered in her own poo, we wondered if we had done the right thing bringing her home, and she cried all night when we tried to sleep that night.
The crying lasted a few days, we bought her a bigger kennel as we knew it wouldn't be long and she wouldn't fit in Prissy the chihuahua's kennel anymore. Turned the tv on at night to keep her company, and locked her in the kitchen anytime we left the house so she had room to move and eat and drink.
She potty trained SO QUICKLY! She learned that outside was where it all went but then also learned that wires were fun to chew on. It took awhile to get her over that habit, we lost a lamp or two, and the cable for tv outside suffered major damage (good thing we didn't need it!).
One day as I was cooking some hamburger helper for dinner she came and sat next to me at the foot of the stove, and then unprompted 'begged' for food. I was so amazed I started feeding her hamburger from the pan to get her to do it again, and by the time dinner was done she pretty much knew how to do the trick on command and I was able to show P when he got home from work. That was the start of a long journey that ended all too soon.
When Tristen was nearly 2 we brought C home with us, I was a little worried about her reaction to him so I made sure that P carried him in a few minutes after I came in the door, it was cold and wintery so it wasn't as long as I had read it should have been but we couldn't leave C outside in the cold so I just made sure to greet my puppy before I let on that we brought someone else home. When she saw that sweet squishy little baby she looked at him for a half second before sneaking a quick kiss on his cheek and running away. I had nothing to worry about! She was a perfect big sister to our sweet baby boy!
Before C was even conceived we brought a child to the house because knowing Tristen was a Chow and that they could become very teritorial we wanted to socialize her as much as possible. The first time she saw a child was hilarious! Abby was about 3 years old, she came to the back yard with me to see our new puppy and she was so excited to see her, until Tristen saw Abby. Tristen hid behind my legs and wouldn't come out, Abby lost interest and became frightened herself.
Her experience with children was limited since we didn't have any in the beginning. We took her to socialize with a friends dog when she was about 4 or 5 months old and Abby was there again. Abby was a bit nervous so she stood against the wall on the far side of our friends living room and didn't move. At first Tristen didn't notice her... she was checking out the other dogs (a dog that would become her best friend later). then suddenly she noticed Abby... she turned fully toward Abby and stood stark still... then Abby bent her knee... bent her knee! and Tristen took off running like she was terrified!
Eventually she lost her fear of children and did great with our friends daughter Abby. Tristen learned all sorts of tricks and the rules of the house. She was the smartest dog I've ever met. She could sit, lay, roll over, beg, stand, dance, and spin around on command. We had so many other tricks we hoped to teach her, but along came children and the process slowed, P only just taught her to spin around last year.
I have so many memories of her I could go on forever. But for the sake of my point in this entry I'll skip along to the end of the story.
Monday I noticed that every time I patted Tristen's head she would yipe. I wasn't sure what was going on, but then on Thursday I also noticed she would not put much weight on her left hind leg. I thought perhaps that was why she had yiped when I touched her head, maybe I was throwing her off balance and it was hurting her leg to put the extra pressure on it. I felt her all over, head, neck, leg, paw, checked her fur for burrs, and any indication that something was causing her pain and could find nothing. I took her to the vet, one of them wanted $52 just for the office visit and couldn't tell me how much an x-ray would be if she needed one. I decided to take her to Banfield (at Petsmart). The beginning and the end.
They had told me they would be able to take her as a walk-in so long as I got there before noon. I couldn't manage any earlier than 11:45am, and when I arrived they informed me that they couldn't take her. I was frustrated and decided that she seemed ok that day (Tuesday) and took her home. When we got home she jumped from the car like nothing was going on and I was relieved thinking that she might have sprained her leg and that it was fine now and we were ok.
The next few days were uneventful but then Christmas Eve (Friday) P let Tristen out to go potty and then noticed she was staring into the glass sliding door with her head cocked to the side and drool running down her face. She never drools. I had noticed over the last few days she stared through that door a lot, in a sort of weird way. So when I looked over I didn't notice the drool at first and thought P was just telling me about her looking through the door which I agreed was odd. Then I noticed the drool and knew something terrible was wrong.
We assumed she had a stroke. The vet after checking her out said it was more likely a brain tumor. They recommended an MRI to find out and then possibly surgery... the MRI alone would have cost us $2500 and I had been concerned about the $52 office visit a few days before. We decided that if it had been a stroke we would just pray that she got better and that it wouldn't happen again and she'd be ok... we took her home. She was off balance her face still drooped on the right side and her right eye was now blind, but the vet said there was a chance all of her functions would return. I looked up the signs and symptoms on the internet and found out that it is super rare for dogs to have strokes, and that what she was experiencing was more likely 'old dog' syndrome, except that Tristen isn't old, she wasn't even 5 yet, or a brain tumor (like the vet said). We were not willing to accept the brain tumor diagnosis, she was so young, and had so much life to live.
Sunday (christmas) we noticed that Tristen's balance was getting worse and she wasn't eating. I gave her some eggs that evening and she took about 5 minutes to eat them but got them down and kept them down. Monday morning I brought her kennel to the dinning room and tried to rig a bowl of water to be elevated but not spill if she bumped it. I had read elevating food and water would make it easier for her to keep her balance and be able to eat without getting sick or nauseous. She manged to drink a little and then spilled my spill proof bowl. I tried cleaning it up and she got out of the kennel and stumbled around the living room and laid down behind P's new recliner. I got her back in the Kennel and sat down to do some more research on what we could do to help her. Then F started playing with the door of the kennel and the little darling let Tristen out again. I gave F a graham cracker and sat her on her daddy's lap to eat it without getting into more trouble. P was on the phone with his mother who was giving us all sorts of ideas as to how Tristen was probably kicked in the head (not even possible since I'm with her all the time and it never happened). I was getting annoyed that it seemed P didn't want to talk to me about what was happening. Then he snapped at me, then C, then me again and I couldn't handle it. I left saying I was going to take care of the neighbor's dogs (they were out of town and I was feeding the dogs and letting them out for them). As I was trying to let the neighbors dogs out and feed them my phone rang, I was busy and annoyed so I didn't answer my phone. It rang again, I answered and P says "she had a stroke! She was kicking and she had a stroke." I asked "do you mean a seizure?" he said yes and I bawled said I'd be home in a minute. It was 10 am.
The vet prescribed blood tests, IV fluids, and steroids. We agree'd but knew even then that we'd be saying good bye to her soon. A few hours later they called with the results of the blood test. She wasn't having clotting issues, so that ruled out the possibility of a blood clot in her brain. her white cell count was high but it could be due to the stress her body was under, or possibly an infection, they gave her some antibiotics and said they'd keep her until 7pm and we could pick her up at that time along with a two week supply of antibiotics and steroids... there was a small chance Tristen had menengitis. At 5pm Tristen had another seizure, the vet called and explained the situation to Patrick. She wasn't doing well, the treatment should have prevented the second seizure, she didnt' have menengitis, if we wanted to continue to treat her the next option was the original MRI. We went in to the vet and told them we were not going to put her through this anymore. They gave her to us on a pet gurney so we could say goodbye. She was sedated but still very much with us. She was sleepy and as she started to close her eyes we (not knowing anything about how they put dogs down) thought perhaps she had already been given the shot and I freaked... I couldn't watch her die.. I watched my grandmother die when they pulled the tubes from her after suffering from staff infection, I couldn't do that again... I had prayed for a miracle that time, this time I just wanted my dog to stop hurting. I left the room and wandered around petsmart looking for something I could remember my baby by. I found nothing.
P called his first class petty officer (a jerk) who told him he could NOT have time off to go and bury our baby. I got so mad my heart was racing and I could hardly breathe I went and got his phone and called the idiot myself and begged, cried and pleaded that the man reconsider, but it was all said to a voicemail. He called back but refused to talk to me. Said I needed P to call him when he got a chance. I wandered some more and then decided to return to the room, at this point I knew that they had given her the shot and that she might be breathing her last when I went into the room. As I opened the door it hit the shoes of the vet, and she sat up and said "she's gone" in a calm gentle voice, returning her stethoscope to her neck. I petted my sweet girl one more time and told her how wonderful she had been to us, and how happy I was to have been part of her life. I shocked myself, I knew she was dead, but I still petted her... P hugged her. He said after we climbed into bed that night that as he had put her in the bag that would have to hold her until THURSDAY when he can drive her up to Merced to be buried, that he was still petting her, and even considered keeping a lock of her hair, but decided that eventually we would all have to move on and that he wouldn't do it.
We spent the evening crying and remembering our dog, all of the things we had done together, the things we hadn't done but said we would... and how she can never be replaced... she was the most extrodinary animal we've ever met, and you just can't replace an animal like that.
I miss you Tristen!
* Three of these photos (1,2,4) were taken by my dear friend Alison