|"Sandy" our "Eskipoo" took to winter!|
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Our first Christmas without "Sandy" our "Eskipoo"
Our dog "Sandy" passed away in June. He was half American Eskimo and half poodle. There is even a name for this mixture: "Eskipoo." A less-used name is "pookimo."
Thanks to the Internet I would learn that this mixture, while very appealing, was prone to eye problems. That helped us understand Sandy's eye problems. He became essentially blind at mid-life, although I suspected he could make out vague images. He might bark when a jogger came by. But his sight seemed almost nil, not that this affected his happiness. He was happy as could be. He learned his way around the house.
He was a medium-sized dog, weighing about 40 pounds. We described him as "super medium."
Have you ever had a dog which you addressed by describing yourselves as "mommy" and "daddy" (or in my case, "brother")? I brought this up with the late Dick Wyman, Morris native, once. He laughed and said most certainly he and his wife had done this. "But we don't do it around company," he added.
Sandy would jump up on furniture when he was young, including the bed where he'd sleep with my father. The time came when I'd have to help him get to these places. I remember talking to the late Eleanor Killoran once, and her saying older dogs just keep slowing down. We love them so much, it doesn't matter that their (tangible) value as a companion diminishes. They lie around and sleep a lot, and they need help with so many things. They are dependent and we mind not at all responding to their needs.
Many dogs develop a particular health problem that spells the end of their life. The first dog we had at our Northridge Drive residence, "Misty," met her end like this. The vet told us it was cancer. "Misty" was a miniature Schnauzer. She lived a pretty full life but it was cut short. Then came "Heidi," our Lhasa Apso, and then "Sandy," dogs whose longevity was the maximum, exceeding 16 years. They did not die from an obvious health problem. They just kept getting slower, as Eleanor Killoran described, until it became obvious their bodies were shutting down.
Anyone who has questions about what it's like taking care of a very old dog, just ask us. "Heidi" lost her sense of hearing. Obviously their bathroom functions become more of a problem. You'll have to be prepared to do some spot-cleaning on your carpet. I'm sure that young families, i.e. "on the go" families, would be especially challenged taking care of a very old dog. Such dogs need a patient and loving person attending to them.
I found that with both "Heidi" and "Sandy," they'd walk around the house in a "possessed" sort of way, with special determination ("dogged" determination), rather than a normal way. It's as if these very old dogs felt a need to walk literally to stay alive. Or at least that's my theory. I'm sure if I were to share this observation with a veterinarian, the vet would nod in recognition.
A very old dog might alternate between periods of deep repose and walking determinedly. They progress slowly into this condition so we hardly notice. We feel unconditional love for our very old dogs. It's not just that we remember them from when they were younger. It's unconditional love, period.
We make sacrifices to nurse them along. We scarcely think of how it inconveniences us.
My father Ralph was alive when "Heidi" failed at the end of her life, and he "took charge" taking her to the vet. My father was the type to never show outward emotion. He took care of business at the end because he knew it was something that had to be done. When "Sandy" reached the sad last stage of his life, my father had been deceased for four months. I was now the one who had to take charge. Like my father, I tried blocking out emotions.
"Heidi" and "Sandy" had both lived beyond 16 years. "Sandy" was two weeks from his 17th birthday. Both dogs are buried along the rows of trees on the north end of our property. I don't recall how "Misty" was disposed. We put a little chicken wire over the bodies to discourage predators.
I inserted a little stick cross over Sandy's body. A few weeks later, I went back there and saw a perfect circle of sunlight coming through the branches and surrounding the cross. It was touching, a sign I took that Sandy was in heaven, at peace, no longer worrying about whether he could jump up on the furniture. And, being watched over by his "daddy."
We will have no Christmas gift wrapped for "Sandy," from "Santa" this year. In fact, our family stopped the tradition of wrapped Christmas gifts four or five years ago. We decided to celebrate Christmas just by going to our church, First Lutheran, on Christmas Eve. There we hold the lighted candles, following tradition. We are a family of two now, my mother and I, and we definitely don't need more "stuff" as with Christmas gifts. In fact we're de-cluttering.
We do listen to Christmas CDs and tapes. We tune in to Channel 30 on TV and watch some of the Christmas specials like the delightful "Muppet Christmas Carol." As a kid I watched "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol." It's hard to believe "Mr. Magoo" would be the perfect vehicle for presenting this Christmas story. It was most perfect. I was able to find it on DVD at Coborn's several years ago. It has been a while since Coborn's closed, and the building stays vacant (and haunted?).
We haven't gotten a new dog. It wouldn't be ideal to take on that burden at this time. But we love dogs.
"All dogs go to heaven."
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org