It’s hard to say Goodbye. . .

As followers of my facebook know, I had to put down my 10 year old family dog.  She was a gorgeous Australian Shepherd who was diagnosed with cancer only last week and only made it until yesterday.  She was still wagging her tail and loving us, but she was in pain.  It would have been selfish for us to keep her on earth with us when she could have had a better pain free life in Heaven.  I wanted to do a tribute to her because I feel like I can’t do enough to show how grateful we were for the precious gift she was to us.  This was Cali’s story.

I still remember the day like it was yesterday.  I was 14 years old, homeschooled at the time, so I was home when my mom came home from lunch that day.

“Danielle!  Kenny! (brother) come here! I have a surprise….”.  We both looked at each other and could not imagine what it could be.  My first thought was she got us a kitten.  We looked at my mom at the front door, with a dog at her side looking very homely.  We looked to my moms face and the grin she had made us feel like we should have been jumping for joy.  It was a young dog, not as small as a puppy but certainly not full grown yet.  She was every single color a dog could be, she even had two different colored eyes! She was dirty and quite skinny and walked with a limp.  My brother and I asked hesitantly, “Is she ours?”  My mom excitedly answered back “Yes!”.  We respond back, “Forever……? Shes…..shes a little strange looking mom…”.  My mom being an animal loving freak was not enthused by our lack of enthusiasm.  It was not that we weren’t excited to have a new dog…but we already had a dog.  She was in bad shape and we were in fear we were going to lose her soon, and the other catch – she didn’t like dogs.  We felt it was going to be unfair to our other dog to bring this new dog into the mix.  We did welcome her in after a few minutes.  After giving her ‘welcome to the family pets’ we had to take her to the vet, she didn’t look good.

We found out that this poor little puppy was rescued from a dog fighting ring.  She was what they considered to be a ‘bait dog’, which means she was meant to be killed in the fight, she wasn’t to even have a chance.  She was left behind my moms office at work with 3 pit bulls, who were not in nearly as bad shape as she was.  The limp she had was because she was left on black top which literally burnt off the pads of her paws.  The vet concluded she was healthy otherwise, and to take her home and enjoy her.  And we did.

Our other dog Holly was not doing so well.  She was 14 years old and appeared to be on her last leg.  Once Cali joined our family, she brought Holly back to life.  She lived to be 17 years old which we totally feel Cali had a doing with keeping our precious family pet with us longer than we expected.

She had her quirks due to what happened to her early in life.  She was afraid of young males, anything being around her neck, belts, brooms etc.  But we dealt with everything.   She obviously never liked other dogs, which sometimes made it hard to go on walks or take her to events but this did not change the fact that she was an amazing family pet.  She gave us the protection we needed while my dad was out of town and the companionship we all crave from out pets. She was a complete sweetheart.  She had a very mothering nature to her.  Most dogs tear apart their stuffed toys, Cali would carry hers around as her babies.  Her favorite were beanie babies.  As fragile as beanie babies are, she never tore them open, she only carried them with her and loved them.

When my niece was born we were concerned about how she would be with kids.  She became her mama bear.  A few years after my niece, my nephew was born who ended up being her best buddy towards the end of her life.  They would eat their breakfast together while Logan fed her bits of his pancakes and sausage, and by lunch they were ready to share a grilled cheese sandwich.  He did get a chance to wave goodbye to her the day she was put down, one could only wish that Logan is not old enough at 1 year to feel the same pain we do for this loss.

In May Cali was diagnosed with Diabetes.  We were very concerned it was going to be an even worse diagnosis at that time.  We were relieved to hear it was something that we would treat.  She needed a diet change and 2 shots a day, which we gladly did in hopes to keep her longer.   We had gotten used to this routine and had the highest of hopes.  That is, until while on a camping trip we found a large lump on her neck.  It had been a smaller lump before, but with all older dogs we figured it was just a fatty tumor.  It had definitely tripled in size in a very short period of time.  We tried to continue our trip without worry, but it definitely put a damper on the trip, I knew it wasn’t good.  We took her to the vet that Friday.  That is when we found out she had cancer.  The vet refused to give us any idea of how long she had, we knew it wouldn’t be long.

That was only last Friday.  We spent the entire week frantic wondering if she would be there when we woke up.  We gave her as much love as we possibly could, and said our goodbyes the entire week.  She was still happy, still eating, still chasing the cats, still eating her bones.  We sort of were in denial, there’s no way shes going.  Yesterday her breathing became very labored, she threw up, her leg swelled twice its size and she just looked very unhappy.  We had to make the terrible decision to end her suffering.  It was certainly not fair to her to be in the pain she was.  Even though we knew how much pain we would be in emotionally to do this, we had to.  Words cannot express how much she will be missed.  She was without a doubt a part of the family, much more than just a pet.  She was not just a companion, or something to greet us when we got home.  She was our sister, our child, our family.

Cali, you will be missed dearly.

Thank you so much for reading and all the support i’ve been given this week after I found out the news.  Without everyone’s kind words and support I don’t know how I could manage to get through this loss.