It was October 25, 2013, my family and I were going to a festival. We had been planning on going for a while. Since this festival was outside we decided to bring our dogs and let them get some exercise. We had two dogs, Koko, the 15 year-old, and Pelli, the 13 year-old. Pelli was a yellow Labrador retriever, who thought she was a lap dog. Koko was a brown Labrador retriever, who had arthritis but only wanted to run around. As we went to get my dog Pelli, we realized she was sick. She was lying down on her stomach and wasn’t moving even though we were calling her name and holding up treats. We knew something wasn’t right. My brother got down on the floor and looked at my dog. I couldn’t look so I ran upstairs and into my garage. I was freaking out, confused with what was happening.
My brother was carrying my dog up our hill and yelling “Open the trunk!”
Once my dog was safely in the car, we all got in. Since the veterinarian was just about a minute away, we decided to go see her. Dr. Smith was our go-to vet. She always made time for us if we needed her help. When we got there she expressed deep concern for Pelli. After about 10 minutes of talking to her we all came to a conclusion that we needed to get Pelli to the closest dog hospital which happened to be the Midwest Veterinary Referral Center since it was less than two minutes away. When we finally got to the building it didn’t even look like a pet hospital. It was a long building that had metallic tiles surrounding the big entrance doors. Almost the whole front of the building was made of glass. It looked more like a dog spa than a hospital to me. By the time we got to the front desk we were frantic. I remember the woman at the desk acting so calm and wondering how she can be so relaxed when my dog might be dying and in pain. It only took about a minute for the vet to come out and find us. First he looked at Pelli to see if she had any cuts or bruises on her.
When he saw that she did not he told us “Were going to take her into the back and take an x-ray of her to see what’s going on in her internals.”
It was only 10 minutes but it felt like 10 days. When he came back out he informed us that she had a fabric cloth stuck in her intestine. None of my family knew what to say. The vet then went on to say that they needed to perform surgery on her to get it out or she had no chance. Of course we said yes. All I could think about was that Pelli was family to me. I was scared and sad and even mad that this could have happened. We weren’t allowed to see her until two days after the surgery was performed. When my family was finally able to I knew I wasn’t ready. I walked in that room thinking that she would be walking and the same old happy dog as before. I was wrong. What I saw tore me apart. There was Pelli. She had tubes in her legs, chest, and nose. Her back was shaved in the shape of a square. She had a bandage the size of a two hands on her stomach and she was almost two times larger than before due to all the fluids being put inside her. I just ran. I ran outside the room. I ran outside the building. Then I stopped. I sat down on the cold grey concrete and cried until there were no more tears. My Aupair Dani came running outside to find me. She sat down next to me and hugged me. She was telling me that it’s okay to cry and that she understood what I was going through. I sat there crying some more for around 10 minutes until I finally decided to go back into that room. The room itself was depressing it was painted grey, had a table for a dog to lay on, and counter surrounding all sides of the room covered with computers, x-ray machines, and papers. I took pictures of Pelli on my phone so that I would never forget her. We left a few minutes after that. I had never seen my family so sad and it scared me.
Pelli was in the hospital for about a week after her surgery. At first she wasn’t doing so well. After a few more days she started to get better but then something went wrong. We don’t know what happened but she wasn’t doing well anymore. Then it happened we went back to the hospital, we knew it was coming but we just hoped it wouldn’t be that day or anyway soon.
“We have to put Pelli down.” Said the veterinarian.
I knew that if I saw it happen I would be completely destroyed so I went back home with my Aupair and waited for my family to come back. It was only about 2 weeks after Pelli was put down that Koko started acting strange. She had been all alone without Pelli for longer than ever before and we could all tell she was getting sad. She wasn’t chasing the tennis balls anymore and she wasn’t nearly as energetic as before. At first we thought it was just her age. Then she wasn’t eating as much. Finally came November 30. My brother went downstairs to feed Koko. He walked over to my dog and looked down at her lying in the crate. Just by looking at her he knew she wasn’t okay. Koko was lying on her stomach with her legs sticking out. She had thrown up on her bed and looked miserable. He started yelling for us to come down stairs. Koko wouldn’t get up. She wouldn’t even move a joint. When I looked at my dog I could tell she was ready to go. She had lived a long happy life and she was done. Once again my brother picked up my dog and ran up our hill as I opened our trunk. This process was too familiar and we all knew it. Instead of driving to our veterinarian like before, we drove straight to Midwest Veterinary Referral Center and ran inside.
They brought Koko back to a room and told us the devastating words again, “Koko needs to be put down.”
I was crushed again. It was like 2 pieces of me were just ripped away. I hate feeling vulnerable but at the moment that’s the only way I can describe my feelings. When I thought about all the reasons Koko was dying I had narrowed it down to 2. One, that it was just her age. After all, she was 15 with arthritis. Two, that Pelli was the only reason Koko was still fighting. When I talk about my dogs death now I automatically say that Koko died because of reason number two. Maybe it’s because I can’t handle the thought of my dog being too old. Maybe it’s because I want to think of my dogs together in heaven. Honestly, I’ll never really know.
It was about half a year after my dogs died that my family and I went to PetSmart to play with dogs for fun. They have a rescue group called Diana’s Grove Dog Rescue that comes in every Saturday. When we finally got there we decided to check out the dogs in the back. As we were looking we spotted a black Weimador (Weimaraner and Labrador mix). He was a tall, skinny but muscular dog. He looked almost desperate for love. He had these big brown puppy eyes that felt like they were looking into your soul. We asked about him and one of the volunteers told us a bit about him.
“This is Wallace. He has been with us for about 8 months. The first month that he was here, he was still with his brothers. One of his siblings had a disease and they all had to be put into quarantine.” Said the volunteer.
Wally never had anything but it was just for safety. Unfortunately that “safety” cost Wally a month of no adoption and no social experiences with other dogs.
The volunteer continued, “After Wallace was quarantined and sent to a vet he was put up for adoption. He’s been up for adoption ever since.” This means Wally was at the rescue for 7 months.
“How come Wally hasn’t been adopted yet?” My mom asked.
“For some reason people seem to prefer just about the exact opposite of Wallace. A lot of the dogs we get that stay here for over a month happen to be either black male dogs just like him or older dogs. These older dogs don’t even have to be a year yet for little kids to consider them not as cute and for parents to automatically skip over them.” Said the lady.
It’s weird to think someone wouldn’t want Wally because of his age or his fur or something as dumb as that but it was true. When I first saw him he was the only dog not barking and he had this look that made you want to just squeeze him. We decided to foster him for a night and the next morning we adopted him. I learned that people and animals are going to die and you are going to love someone or something and their going to leave. The hardest part is how you take the loss. Wally is my new dog and I’m so happy that we have him but one day he won’t be here anymore and my family will be sad again. Honestly, that’s okay because it’s okay to be sad every now and then. What’s not okay is never recovering from a loss. Koko and Pelli were just the first losses that got to me. I will miss them and never forget them but I’ve learned to move on.