This was the year Stevie almost died, 2008. In this picture, she had gotten better and was acting like her old self. I, on the other hand, had gone through horrors at the thought of loosing her and had cried myself through an entire weekend until I could get her to a vet.
I had been giving her broth and water from an eyedropper. I had been lugging her from one comfortable resting place to another so that I could stay close by.
When I saw all the balls still in the basket that day, I knew something was drastically wrong. I went frantic . She was lethargic. I was panicked. I picked her up and she was limp. I started balling. I didn't know how I would make it to Monday waiting to see a vet. I coddled her and cooed her. I just held her and admired her. I looked her in the eyes and spoke to her. We had been together for 11 years at that time. She was my baby. She made it through the weekend, I almost didn't. The vet put her through a battery of tests and was quite convinced that I should prepare myself for her eminent death. She put her on steroids, Prednisone, and sent me home to see how she fared. It would be a wait and see. I tried to be hopeful, but she had been so certain. So I vacillated from hope to fear, cried, and took pictures of every square inch of her.
I raised her lips and took a picture of her little teeth. I wanted to remember everything. The next visit to the vet, she wasn't much more hopeful but did advise me I could take her to a specialist and gave me the referral.
I sped in for the first opening with them and spent the day waiting while she had a sonogram. They had to keep her in the hospital all day to make sure she recovered okay. I think they had to sedate her to keep her from moving. It was pretty intense.
The vet was absolutely wonderful. He was a training facility, everyone had so much compassion for my trauma. Stevie had been shaved and was looking good when they finally brought her to me.
The doctor told me that he saw no eminent threat of her dying, but that she had had an acute attack on her liver. The good news was that it was not a chronic condition.
He gave me a prescription and told me she would need to continue on it for the rest of her life, her liver had been compromised and needed help to function as needed.
I was so happy. So, so happy. Life was good again. My baby was going to live. I could breath.
I knew she was feeling like her old self again when I woke one morning to find, not one, but five of her balls waiting for me to rustle and kick one for her. I guess she had gotten impatient waiting for me to wake. She had never done that before, it was as if to say, "I'm back, Mom, and I'm even better than ever".
At first all I saw was the balls, then her little face came up like a crocodile.
I never again didn't have time to play ball with her. We learned how to incorporate it into sweeping (I would throw the ball with the broom, she would throw it back to me with her mouth into the pile of dirt and I would do it again) If I bent down to pull leaves, she would come up and get right in my face, I would say, "Give me a kiss," and then I would say, "I see You", which meant..."go get your ball, I'll throw it for you". So I would pull a couple of weeds, throw the ball, pull more weeds and she would have it back. Same thing over and over.
I spent the next 3 years wondering and worrying what was happening to her little body. I found the money for the expensive medicine, it came before anything else.
She was such a special friend. I don't know how I will recover from loosing her now. After 3 more years of being my best friend, she woke up two days ago, throwing up.
Oh no, I prayed, please let it just be something she ate.
Not so lucky. She started to get lethargic again. A weekend again, of course. I prayed. "Please let her get better again. Let it be a bout of something. Let her stay with me." I begged. I made a soft bed in my office studio, left the door open and a tub of water near. Her pal, Bungee, stayed by her side while I went off to church, worried the whole time. When I got home, I could tell things weren't right. I scooped her up in my arms and we went out to the rocking swing and it just didn't feel comfortable, the wind was blowing. So I took her to my bed where she sleeps all the time. She was panting, I turned on the fan. Then it seemed too strong so I turned on the oscillator. I laid her on her favorite comforter and covered her with a little towel so the wind wouldn't be directly on her and laid next to her, patting her head and loving her. I put a pillow under her back. I told her not to go, "don't leave me yet, Stevie, I love you so much, I don't want you to go." And then I realized she was going to leave me anyway, so I just kept a hand on her head and watched her little face, her eyes looking more and more distant from me. I finally realized she was in a safe place, even though she was struggling a little each time she breathed.
I was going to call my sister in the other room to tell her Stevie was dying. Partly because I wanted to hold out hope that I was wrong, and partly because, if she was, I just wanted it to be her, me and Bungee, all things as usual.
All through the 3 years, I had begged God not to make me take her to the vet for euthanasia, I wouldn't be able to do it.
I think Stevie knew I couldn't handle anything more than her just drifting off. What a good dogie. "Oh, how will I handle the pain." She had to leave me. She is gone. Her little body went limp. I just cried and wailed and hugged her and admired her. Then cried and wailed and hugged and admired her some more.I kissed her nose and fury head. I squeezed her close and felt her weight. I had scooped her up and had laid her on my chest when I could tell the end was near. "Oh, my baby", I wailed, "I don't want you to go. Please come back".
My sister heard my screaming and came running. Stevie made one last breath and she was gone. "Oh, my baby. My sweet, sweet baby! So suddenly. So sweetly you left me. Oh, my God! Oh, my God!"
Tears streaming from my face. I had to get busy right away. "What next" I thought, "what next do I do". I had rehearsed this in my mind so many times when she was sick before. I went to look for my grandmothers old tattered quilt. When Stevie had been hit by a car as a puppy, I had scooped her up it it and went screaming to the vet sure she had been all torn up inside. She had just bounced off the car and was fine. But that became her blanket. I had washed it and packed it away. I was frantic to find it now. Finally I found it and we wrapped her up like a burrito and buried her with her blanket and balls way deep down in a spot where I can look out and admire her memory. We gave her four of her balls to keep her company. We laid the concrete pavers I had made of her feet over her grave. I went throughout the yard for the next two days like a zombie retrieving all her balls, for her this time. They were everywhere. She had been everywhere!
It will take me along time to get over loosing her. She was my best, best friend. She started my real life with me and has gone through everything with me. I don't know how to be without her. Laying by my side every night, she had loved me too. Before she went, she had been coming every time I sat at my computer to squish by my legs, her dense fury body pushing my legs aside so she could be at my feet. I think she knew she was going.
She was such a wonderful dog.
We had just had a wonderful trip to Vista, CA together; me, Stevie and Bungie. We had a great time. It was a great last memory. When I was trying to take pictures of a building I wanted to show my business partner, Stevie's little beanie was in the picture because she was sniffing out the window, enjoying the sights and sounds. On the way home, I took pictures of her and Bungee walking along my mother's old home, sniffing flowers and then looking up at me.
Then when we got in the car, for some reason I was compelled to snap them each in their seats, ready for the next leg of the trip.
They both had a great time with me and were so well behaved. They were troopers going through all that with me.
Bungee is kind of an airhead and seems to not know what has happened, small favors. She and I will find a new way of being without our beloved Stevie. We will miss her so much.
I knew her so well. I miss you, Sweet Stevie.
Good by my sweet, sweet girl.