October 26, 2015

Saying goodbye to Speck

This past weekend we said goodbye to Speck the Dog. She was nearly 18 years old and lived a full, happy life. She was loved fiercely and will be remembered fondly. We are so sad to lose her but her memories bring us happiness and comfort. Speck made us a family and taught us to love more deeply. She was resilient, adapting to multiple moves, plenty of travels, the adoptions of other dogs in her extended family, the birth and eventual toddlerhood of Emilia, and even the transition from her original owner, Zack to us at age 7.

Speck made many appearances on the blog over the years because she enjoyed sitting with my leather bags and photobombing my indoor outfit pics. She also was in many outfit photos when I had Chris snap them on walks.

Speck had a ton of personality and the most expressive face. Her fur coloring made it seem like she had eyebrows and eyeliner. She was quite graceful with much natural beauty. She was happy to be tucked under a blanket or wear a coat or sweater in winter. She was a loving, snuggly dog but didn't care for when adults hugged or danced. And she was suspicious of most men (especially those who were tall and stood nearby). But she loved Chris, Zack, and my dad. She would get upset when we had parties or people over. Especially if someone stood up from a seated position. Although she took a while to warm to new people, once you were in you were in. She'd let you know by happily presenting her belly for pets or "waving her flag" (what we called the extra bit of fur on the end of her small tail).

She loved ice cream, pasta, bread, tomatoes, and any kind of meat. In fact, she went on a food strike that led to us home cooking her food for the last two years of her life. Although it was time consuming, it was the only thing high-maintenance about her at that point (other than our needing to carry her up and down our slippery, steep wooden stairs after she no longer could navigate them safely). Her bladder control was legendary and she loved sleeping in. She couldn't really tolerate long walks anymore and would Shepard us home after half a block if not sooner. But she loved a warm spot. Behind a human knee or laying between two people. She was a consummate seat thief because she knew the spot would be warm. She loved basking in the sun, even if it was only shining through a window during cold weather months.

She was quirky and particular. And I loved her quirks. I respected her particularities and desires for quiet order. She hated vacuuming, fireworks, and thunderstorms. She relished routines and was an adept negotiator when it came to treats. There are so many reasons why she was such a beloved family member.

I am grateful and impressed that she was spry enough up until the end to make this loss feel very sudden, despite her age. And I am sad that she will miss out on this season's piles of crunchy leaves to sniff and walk through. I am sad that she won't see this year's Christmas tree to lay underneath (another favorite of hers). I am sad that she will never again get to make paw tracks in snow or dig in sand. I am sad to lose my helpful crumb-buster and table scrap relish-er. I am sad to never again play the chase game with her and Emilia after Speck's bath. I am sad to never see Speck photobomb another outfit pic of mine. I am sad to never again hear Emilia say "good girl Speck!" or to give Speck a special treat or to have to remind Emilia to pet her gently and give Speck space. I am sad that the next time Chris travels, I won't have anyone to be up with me after Emilia goes to bed.  I am sad to never come home again to her wagging tail and smiling face. I am sad. I am sad. I am sad.

She is integral to so many memories and milestones and for that I will always be grateful. I will treasure those memories. RIP beloved Speck the dog.

The rest of the story is under the cut due to it being a potentially triggering explanation of how she passed.

On Saturday morning, Speck began having seizures that were intense and lengthy. Her blood work indicated advanced brain disease, likely to be cancer. They couldn't diagnose it exactly without an MRI which would have necessitated overnight hospitalization until at least Monday likely followed by chemotherapy. Without even addressing the extreme cost, Speck is nearly 18 years old and to put her through invasive treatments and hospitalization struck us as unfair to her. We instead worked out a plan for palliative care that involved us taking her home and arranging for a vet to put her to sleep in our home. Sadly, we weren't able to do that. When she came home from the emergency vet, we promised we would bring her back if she had another seizure. She did about 15 minutes after she returned home. The first ten minutes of her back home are moments I will treasure. She was herself, snuggly and happy. Comfortable and calm. But she never seemed like herself after that last seizure so we made the merciful decision to bring her peace. I was glad to give Speck one final treat of a bowl of ice cream (an indulgent favorite) as I held her during our drive back to the emergency vet hospital. Although she was tense and out of it, she licked it up. Chris and I both held her until she took her final breath. Thank you for reading. It helps to write it out and share.

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