Roxy wasn’t a rescue. Quite the contrary, she rescued us…
We planned down to the very detail, the type of dog we would get. I waited for months before my better half decided it was time. We were planners. Everything had to be just right before we made such a huge commitment, (see why we never had children?)
It was Winter of 2003 when we began feeling settled into our newly built home. My husband had been working in Law Enforcement and the stress of September 11th still haunted me. Our working schedule made us passing ships in the night. Although he had a lot of time off, his time on gave me evening anxiety.
Weimaraners were not easy to find, at least not for us at that time, anyway. We were denied left & right because we weren’t planning to hunt or show. It was a long process to find a reputable breeder in the states, however there was one on the Washington-Idaho border. They had one puppy who had already been promised, but they hadn’t received payment. We waited an extra two weeks to ensure the original adopter had their chance.
Fortunately, the woman never showed & “Tiger Stripe” was all ours. At 10 weeks old, they flew her out with her Pedigree, and we picked her up at the FedEx landing. I will never forget that day – there wasn’t a soul in sight, and I anxiously ran up to peer through the tiny warehouse window in a heavy, locked door. In the center of a massive hangar stood a single crate containing the cutest little puppy. Her ears were as long as she was tall.
We rushed her home and she wandered the backyard clutching the pig ear they sent with her that evening. She was so drowsy, and we let her sleep in bed with us “just that one night”. She was a quiet little angel. And then she woke up… For the next two years (as any Weim owner knows), she was like the Tasmanian Devil. So much energy and into everything – even eating rocks! However, she picked up on commands and our rules right away. We crate trained her until she proved to us she could be trusted while we slept.
She rescued me with love and companionship every single day and night… Into her third year, her eyes began changing from that typical Weimy-baby-blue, to an amber hue. And one day, she simply sat down.
That was when our Roxy girl really got her soul.
From then on out, she was one of us. She recognized how much love our home held, and she sure contributed. In 2007, we moved from Northern California to the Oregon Coast where we restored a beautiful old Craftsman and opened a Boutique.
It wasn’t just any Boutique – it was a store for Dogs!
A dream of mine since I was a little girl, I designed a quaint little shop filled to the brim with designer duds. We had collars and rain coats, toys and treats. Of course Roxy was our official greeter and model. LaDeDog! was built around our love for her.
We had a wonderful time in the North-West. We hiked the rain forests, ran through the tulies, enjoyed bonfires on the beach and made a name for ourselves in that community. It was character building for sure, however we dearly longed for those warm California sunsets. In 2009, we put everything online and moved to the sunny Southern California Coast. At that time, Roxy was six years old and ready for “retirement”. We settled into our little beach community where time somehow slipped away from us. It truly feels 10 years have mysteriously been wiped somewhere along the way, because it doesn’t seem possible to be at 2017 now.
In nearly 15 years, we had very little trouble with our Roxy girl. She dug in the backyard only one time & ate a tiny hole in our carpet when she was just playing. One day she accidentally ran through a single-pane glass door (that wasn’t pretty). But we got through it, and all was well once we recovered. It wasn’t until 2016 when things got difficult.
I had taken a retreat in Costa Rica and when I returned, I noticed how clingy she had become. She was beginning to show her age at 13. By this point, we had been staying home more because we felt guilty to go anywhere, but it was hard to recognize any changes. There were a few benign tumors and abscess teeth to deal with, and then we both left for a nearly 3 week adventure to Bali. This was tough on our old girl. Even though we had a friend & trusted crew of wonderful people taking care of our home while we were away, it gave her anxiety. And a month later, she began to have stomach issues.
I knew the signs right away. One morning, she went out back and dug a hole on the edge of our fence. This was a warning sign that she was in massive pain! Shortly she began to bloat, so we rushed her to the ER and discovered that her stomach had flipped! This is common in Weimaraners, however at her age, it was a surprise. They gave us 30 minutes to decide whether to save her life with immediate surgery or to let her go because of her advanced age.
The cost of this surgery was extensive. It is not an easy decision, nor one that many people will take on. But we did it. In 48 hours, our girl was back home and ever so grateful to be alive. I could tell that she was feeling better and able to digest her food better than ever. It was the least that we could do to give her that ease, and we were grateful to have the ability to do it.
That was her “bonus year”.
From that moment on, I cherished every single second that our little trio had together. It is truly a blessing to have such a tight little family – my loving husband & our sweet puppy-girl. By this point, her love over the years had rescued both of us. Through many moves and life events, through miscarriages, heartbreak and joys – she was our constant. But time is fleeting, and once again I can’t fathom how quickly those 11 months slipped by.
As the year came to an end, it became more difficult getting through our daily walks. I was taking her in the morning and evening, which she gladly participated when she could. She had a massive appetite, eating two Merrick cans a day, along with dry food & supplements. If she had not received a second can, she would not have maintained her weight.
She was soon diagnosed with “Sun-downers”, which is a form of canine Alzheimer’s. This had been an issue since early 2016, so about two years of waking up several times a night to go out. Near the end it was extremely annoying, as she would just stand there in the yard for hours if she could. She would even trick us by sneaking over to the patio couch and laying down as if it were noon. After going up and down the stairs several times a night, we decided there had to be some changes. So I formulated a plan – we added baby gates and took turns sleeping on the couch with her. It was the only way we would get any sleep.
As the weeks went by, she was beginning to have issues walking her normal rounds. Several times Tony had to carry her home, and it was impossible to allow her to run on the beach without losing mobility. We knew it was nearing time to say goodbye.
How do you know when it’s time? Everybody says your pet will tell you. But it wasn’t until an early morning in October that she told me. We had been giving her Tramadol for pain & anxiety, and through a hazy stare, I recognized “the look”. I made prior arrangements with our vet who had been so wonderful all of these years. We knew they would come out to the house, so on a late Sunday afternoon, we took Roxy down to her favorite beach & let her RUN. Despite the pain or the difficulty, we took her off of the meds and allowed her to do what she wanted. For the first time in her long life, my dog chose to lay down in the warm sand and intently watch the waves crash on the shore during the sunset. I was in awe of how observant she was that day.
The next morning, we showered her with gifts and treats. I popped her popcorn & she ate as much as she wanted. We blew her favorite bubbles to chase and she received the most kisses, hugs and love she could possibly endure. I created a little altar with all of her babies, our memorabilia and some comforting items to make it a sacred experience. That evening, the vet came with her big needle and took my fur-baby away. It was among the hardest things I have ever had to do.
I felt so much regret for the life that was still within her, the love she still desired to give, and the energy she exuded within those last two days. But I am learning to forgive myself for the act – for it was an act of pure love. It was out of compassion & respect that we were able to release her before the pain consumed her. One of the most difficult things to witness was when she dug that hole in agony as her stomach was flipping the year before. Not being able to walk, and enduring the pain/confusion of her aging bones felt wrong.
So it was all in love that we selflessly said goodbye.
Now, one month later, I feel at peace. I am so very grateful for the nearly 15 years we had with her, and all of the beautiful memories along the way. It still hurts like hell, but as Tennyson once said, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
If you are facing a similar situation where your fur-baby is slowing down, please feel free to reach out to me. Sometimes it helps to talk to someone else. There is so much guilt in the decision, but as I have found, it is more humane to let your animal go one week early than one day too late. And don’t hesitate to seek out pain/anxiety treatments. If something doesn’t work, your vet will have other options.
As a loving memorial, I put together this video marking many beautiful moments from puppy-hood to senior-hood. We love you Roxy-coo…
Thank you for reading my story. Attached, I am adding the loving care we received from our community in our Senior years as well as resources we have used for years…
XOXO – Renee