Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I don't know why you say good-bye, I say hello

Zee, that lovely, gentle girl, is suddenly gone, and there's not much to be said about it. She had been having some pain and mobility issues all summer and at first they responded to a combination of rest or exercise depending on what she had been up to the day before. And then about a month ago, she started a real decline. One night, she shifted on the couch and was suddenly ki-yi-ing in agony. I brought her to the vet and he thought he had found the answer.

Unfortunately, he had not. I've always said that I'd spend any amount of money for something that worked but not a penny on something that would only make me feel better and not help the dog. This suddenly went from one of the former to one of the latter. When he did a secondary exam before the scheduled operation, things didn't add up and some additional testing showed deterioration of the spinal chord, a condition that made the test itself too much for the girl. There was no point in even waking her up, since she would have been in agony and would likely not have even made it home.

As it was, her last conscious time was fairly pleasant. Some painkillers were helping and she was able to go to the dogpark and see her friends, human and canine. And that was that. A fun, terrific dog and the house is brutally empty at the moment.

I knew I couldn't be like that very long and began to make some contacts. I expected, at best, to find a new litter somewhere that might be ready in six weeks or a month. But by sheer happenstance, when I contacted a ridgeback breeder in Florida who had been a classmate of my brother in high school, she had a rambunctious male puppy nearly ready to go out the door. He will arrive a week from Friday, and it happens to be a week that I have off, so we can have plenty of time for bonding and going for walks and suchlike.

That is a picture of Vaska and his brothers above. "Vaska" is short for Vasili Dmitreivich Denisov, whom Tolstoy fans will remember as the brave, tender-hearted, fearless, romantic leader of Cossack partisan cavalry. Brother-in-arms to Nicholai Rostov, he's one of the great "buddies" in all of literature.

And I'd say he has big shoes to fill, but, then again, look at those feet.


Anonymous said...

Vaska is going to be a BIG one!! Which is good - big role that he looks perfectly suited to take on. I'm so glad you were able to help him find you.


Sherwood Harrington said...

I suppose a right thing to say here about Ziwa is something along the lines of "at least it developed quickly," but in my experience that is not of any comfort. I sympathize with the emptiness, and hope Vaska proves to be as good a companion to you as you were to Ziwa.

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Mike, i am so sorry she's gone. "Brutally empty" is a very good description.

Rambunctious is good. Vaska looks like he'll be a joy!

Mike said...

Honestly, Sherwood, I'm a tear-off-the-Bandaid person. I'm glad I knew something was seriously wrong so I had a few weeks to spoil her and think about how much she meant in my life, but one advantage of this breed is that they don't put you through a lot of "six pills every four hours" years. I've never known one that was sick for more than about six months at the end. Time to say goodbye, but then a prompt, graceful exit that leaves the audience cheering for more.

I do realize that your mileage may vary.

Mike said...

And "rambunctious" will be fun and also very good for both my waistline and my housekeeping.

You pay dearly for not taking a ridgeback puppy for that second walk each day, in the form of pawprints on the walls and ceilings, and I've also been looking around this place stunned by how very un-puppyproof my life has become in the 14 years since one last lived with me.

I predict that we're going to have to meet each other in the middle on a number of issues, and that will certainly be good for me.

Ronnie said...

Been looking at Ginny's impressive website - now wondering who Vasca's parents are ---

ronnie said...

Oh, Mike. I'm so sorry. There are really no words at the loss of a companion.

I wish all the best to you and Vaska. He has a fine face, and some big paws to fill - but a look at his paws suggests he may be up to the job.

Anonymous said...

My sincere condolences, Mike. Thanks for so eloquently sharing the pain, as the sharing helps all of us who have been there, and hopefully you as well. The new kid looks like a real winner! - Ted Kerin

Dann said...

Terribly sorry to hear about your loss, Mike. Glad that you are able to find another one so quickly.

Mike said...

Thanks all. As you'll see by the latest post, I'm getting ready for the next adventure, but I did have a wrap-up consult with the vet today. He's a good man and will be Vaska's vet, too.

Mike said...

And to answer Mom's question -- Vaska's mother is a daughter of the dogs profiled there, perhaps a victim of finishing her championship and starting to breed before the website was updated. His dad is an int'l champion from another kennel.