Saturday, March 29, 2014

Winnie: 2005 - March 28, 2014

It's hard to believe she's gone.

At 4:00 Friday afternoon I didn't know anything was wrong with her, and by 6 that same night she was already gone.

The day before, on Thursday morning, as usual Bobby woke me up at the crack of dawn for our daily walk. Bobby, Winnie and I went several blocks to our private dog park, the fenced-in park/community center/fire station. We know how to get in before it opens for everybody else.

It was a relatively cool morning, about 58 degrees, and both dogs loved the cool air. It made them run around and chase each other all the more. Bobby would start running and Winnie-Binnie would follow, only to stop and flatten herself out as if to hide in the grass. Bobby would continuously run circles around her, nipping at her back legs in order to get her going. And then she'd jump up and go like crazy, running in circles, chasing him, being chased, and then roll around in the grass.

She seemed fine.

Friday morning she ate her breakfast as usual and then had a little toast with soy margarine with me as they both do every morning. Later in the day, when it was time to eat again, she didn't want to get off the couch. When I called, she got off, and laid on the floor. She wouldn't touch her food.

When this dog doesn't want to eat, something's wrong. I called her vet, but she had gone for the day. Went back to Winnie to check her gums and noticed they were very pale and her lips and mouth were actually cool to the touch. So I brought her to the emergency vet a few minutes away from home.

She was able to walk to the front desk but then laid down there. They brought a gurney to take her back to the examining area. They too, noticed she was pale and cold. A test showed there was blood in her stomach. The ultrasound showed a mass that had ruptured in her spleen, and another one in her liver. She was bleeding internally. They feared the tumors, whether benign or cancerous, had spread. The offered to call in a surgeon, but said this kind of thing has a very low chance of success. And if she did survive, she'd only last another couple of weeks.

All this was like a punch in the face. How was this possible? She was fine this morning. She went for her daily walk and ate all her breakfast and toast. Well, she seemed fine, but these masses had been growing for a while. I had no way of knowing any of this.

In her weakened state, I didn't want her to go through the surgery, only to die on the operating table, or live in misery in a cage at the vet's office for her last days. I thought about taking her home for the night, but there was no way she would have lasted the night. And she would have felt worse by the minute. I had to let her go.

I didn't want her lifted to the table. They brought out a blanket, put it on the floor, I hugged her and told her everything I needed to say, and continued hugging her on the floor while they administered the injections, and then she was gone.

Hard to believe Winnie originally couldn't get along with other animals. Here she is with Ethel, who I lost 3 months ago.
I got Winnie to "hold temporarily until she got a new home" 4 years ago in March 2010. This became her fourth home.  I have no idea why three other people gave her up. Actually, it was probably because she was very different back then.

When I first got her she didn't know how to walk on a leash. She'd pull hard in every direction. And if she saw another dog or cat she'd go nuts and want to kill them. I was nervous every time I walked her.

But she learned to relax and calm down. In no time she became the best at walking on a leash, never pulling in the slightest. The leash was just a formality; she stayed right next to me on every walk. Eventually, this dog who wanted to attack every other dog she saw, learned to love going to the big dog park -- with dozens of other dogs running around. She became the most excited when we'd get there, and we'd run to the gate, and I'd let her off her leash. There was never a fight, and never any hostility. She loved being around all those other dogs. It was hard to believe this was the same dog.

She learned to calm down and enjoy life mostly thanks to Bobby. She saw right away how happy and confident he is, and she followed his lead. She did everything he did. She never barked, but if the doorbell rang and he got excited, so did she. When he got excited about a walk or going in the car, she got excited too.

But while Bobby is a big, happy-go-lucky, in-your-face fun-dog, she stayed very quiet and reserved at home.

Every night she'd jump on the bed and curl up in a little circle -- never intrusive, not taking up too much space, not looking for attention -- and just fall asleep. When I'd lie down on the couch to watch TV, she'd jump up and curl up in a little circle in her spot. When I'd get on the computer, within seconds I'd look down and both dogs would be lying on the floor next to me. She just wanted to be nearby.

In the morning, after our long walks, sometimes I'd go back to bed for a little while. She'd curl up on the bed in her tight circle, but I'd pull her over next to me, stretch her out and hug her. This made her happy. She'd roll on her back, wiggle back and forth, left-right-left-right almost in figure 8s, and then fall asleep with all her feet in the air.

I don't know anything about her first few years, but I'm glad I had her for these last four. She learned to relax, enjoy life, and she got along great with the cats. They'd sleep next to her and walk right under her.

They'll deliver her ashes to me in two weeks.


  1. Don, I feel your sorrow. This is pretty much how my 14 yr old cat Bobby passed away. however I thought you could be saved through surgery to remove the tumor. the surgery was a success and the tumor was removed. however she never woke up after being on anesthesia and eventually passed away from heart failure. this was just about 10 days ago. You know there will always be a special place in our hearts that only they can fill.

  2. I thought that she could be saved through surgery. Never again will I put an animal over 12 years old through surgery.