requiem

When I first met Rockefeller, he was a tiny little black puppy sitting alone in his cell at the Humane Society, staring at me with these huge liquid brown eyes that seemed half as big as his face. He wasn’t jumping around or yapping like the other dogs and puppies, he was just quietly sitting there, watching me every time I would walk by. I was there to find a golden retriever puppy, and this scrawny black pup with the enormous paws was pretty much the furthest I could get from that.

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Yet, after making three fruitless rounds of the various kennels, I couldn’t help but notice he never moved from his post by the door, and the expression on his face…it just seemed like he was yearning for me with every ounce of his tiny little being. I asked to see him, and went in and sat down. He climbed on my lap, put his head on my shoulder, and heaved the longest, loudest sigh. I knew right then that is be taking him home. I was lost. That was ten years ago.

When I was filling out the adoption papers, the agent told me his name was Angel, and asked if I wanted to rename him. “Rockefeller” just kind of popped out of my mouth before I even thought about it. It suited him right down to the ground. It turns out that Angel was an appropriate name for him too, because that’s what he was.

It’s not to say that he never gave me any trouble. He tore up pillows, underwear, bras, condoms (seriously. I wrote a blog about it). Walks were always his favorite. Grab the leash and he was bouncing out of his skin with joy. He was sometimes irritating and I wasn’t always the best dog mommy. But I loved him, and he loved me, every day of his life.

Over the years I’ve written a number of blogs about him, from the time he helped me rescue a girl getting beat up by her mom, to the time he went on a fictional quest with a grumpy gray cat. He barked at the door every time someone knocked, and then jumped for joy and slobbered all over them. He never met anyone he didn’t love, and there was no one that didn’t love him. He was exuberant, loving, goofy, silly. There was nowhere he wanted to be more than laying beneath my feet while I worked, or sleeping at the foot of the Boy’s bed. For ten years, he was by my side every day, no matter what.

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In January this year, he got out of the yard and was gone for ten days. When he returned, it was the greatest relief I’d ever felt. He had a gash in his leg from his upper leg down to his lower, and needed some ridiculous amount of stitches. The vet fixed him up and I took care of him in the weeks that followed, changing his bandage every day and feeding him his antibiotics to make sure he’d get better. Finally the vet gave the go ahead to remove his cone and we discussed a second surgery to finish closing the wound.

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For the last few weeks I was traveling a lot and didn’t have a lot of time to spend with him, so he stayed with some close friends. When I saw him today, it was my first sight of him in two weeks.

He woke up this morning vomiting. It was quickly apparent that there was something wrong: his belly was distended, his mouth hanging open, and his head hanging low. Band Geek brought him to me and we took him to the vet. It turned out his stomach was twisted around itself, cutting off blood flow to sections of it. The vet gave me a choice: immediate surgery or euthanasia. The cost for the surgery would be anywhere from four to seven thousand dollars, barring any complications.

While I like to think I do well for myself, I don’t have that kind of money laying around. I applied for some credit, appealed to my mom, and ended up being able to pay enough that they would start the surgery. I petted him carefully before they led him away. They told me his prognosis was good, and that the surgery is successful 70 to 80 percent of the time. I left there refusing to believe that anything other than a full recovery was impossible.

When I got the call, I was watching an episode of Scrubs. His spleen had hemorrhaged and about 40% of his stomach tissue was dead and could not be safely removed. The doctor said that even if they went to extraordinary lengths to try to fix it, the cost would be incredible and that he probably wouldn’t make it anyway.

So, at about 2:30 this afternoon, I made the decision to let him go. My sweet, lovey boy was put to sleep while still under anesthesia to spare him any more pain. I hadn’t even given him a hug before they led him away, and I can’t stop thinking about that. I wish I would have hugged him within an inch of his life. If I would have known it was the last time I’d see him, I would have.

The Boy, Goodman, Band Geek, and I went down to say goodbye afterwards, and I made decisions about what to do with his body. I stroked his ears and his nose…his ears wouldn’t ever stay down properly…they were always flopping up when he laid down and rolled around, and it was the same today. I kissed his head and said goodbye to my friend, my companion, my handsome baby boy, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I will always miss him. Love you, buddy. I’ll see you soon.

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