Feb 4, 2009

Goodbye old friend. Hootie: 1997-2009

I'll never forget the day I first saw him. We were driving home from Golden and Kathy said "Why don't you go this way?" We headed down a street I had never been on and found ourselves driving by a little strip mall. Then Kathy says "Turn in here a minute." Now my spidey senses are on alert, and sure enough, we wind up parking in front of a pet store.

Kathy had been out in Golden a couple of days before and had found Hootie sitting in a cage looking so lonely. When we walked in, there was a sad little puppy up high in his own cage, with a sign that had 2 different prices crossed out and the third was pretty low. He had been taken and then returned to the pet store. I knew right then that we were heading home with another dog, I had been suckered!

I still wasn't quite over the loss of our Golden Retriever, but I never do seem to get over the loss of a pet. Kathy knows that I need a replacement though, and seeing as we always have dogs in pairs, our female lab mix Bailey needed a friend also. So we headed home with Hootie, a mix of Border Collie, Shepard, who knows what all.

This was the dog that wasn't going to be on the couch with us. This is the one who would be trained damn it! After a couple of nights of whining in a box beside us, Hootie figured out the routine, realized we were not the obusive parents that I think he had before, and adopted us as his family. He also figured out that dad is a sucker, and soon took his rightful place on the couch beside us.

His first days with us were a little tough on him. First he walked by Bailey's supper dish and got the angry mama snarl and put in his place. Then he wandered up to our old tomcat to sniff him and came away with a bloody nose from a good swat. He was probably thinking "What do I have to do to catch a break?" But everyone got used to one another, and the family was complete.

Hootie was the only dog we ever had that never went to obedience classes. Somehow, he just knew instinctively what he was supposed to do, always came to us when we called him, and the only bad habit he ever had was chewing up stuffed animals. He lived his life to please, was the most sensitive animal to anybody's feelings. When a friend who had typical kids would come over, you never needed to worry about him. If a toddler would pull on him, or get too rough, he would just walk away. He would never snap at anybody.

On walks he would hunt bugs, doing a little stop and wiggle move, then pounce on them with his paws like you see in video of a coyote on TV. He was always surprised when he opened his paws and there wasn't anything to be found. I don't think he would have lasted more than a few days in the wild with those hunting skills!

The last year of his life brought blindness, and he slowed down a lot. But he still enjoyed going on our walks in the field and at the off-leash park. He stayed close behind me, relying on me to lead him by sound. I talked to him a lot as we walked, so he would know where I am and wouldn't worry. He learned to get in and out of the dog door by feel, only making a few messes in the house even as his days were numbered. And he always felt so bad when there was a mistake, you couldn't possibly be mad at him.

Finally, in these last couple of days, something changed. The walk was so stiff, and it hurt him to get up and down. Almost overnight, he stopped eating and just laid out in the yard and by the dog door. He had a couple of accidents, messing himself unable to move and just laying there. We called the Vet and they got us in pretty quick. I carried him from the van directly to the exam table.

Our vet came in and stopped at the door, shocked at how bad he looked. He said "This isn't Hootie". He carried him into the back to take x-rays and some blood samples. When he came in he said the chest and heart look OK, he didn't expect that as labored as his breathing is. The abdominal x-ray showed a full stomach and intestine, even though he had not been able to eat for a couple of days. Thing were not working right, but he didn't know why. There was also some type of a large mass beside his stomach. You never want to hear the word mass when your vet is talking to you...

The option was to take him to the Wheatridge animal intensive care, because there wasn't much that a family vet could do at this point, and Hootie needed intensive care. It was that bad. He looked at me while rubbing Hooties chest and told me that it would probably be expensive, at least 2 grand just to stabilize him until they could do exploratory surgery. He was giving me the option without telling me what to do. He has been our vet through all of our dogs, and is as good a man as there is.

I was crying, much like I am now, barely able to say the words "I can't put him through this, let's put him down."

Just a few short minutes after that, he breathed his last, labored breath, while I held him and told him how much he a meant to me. I felt better about my decision when it only took half of the syringe to stop his heart and breathing. His body was trying so hard just to stay alive that it was barely hanging on.

I will miss my buddy more than I can tell you, of all the dogs I have had he was the kindest, and most special one.


Just a little while after we got him, still scared.



Figuring out life isn't so bad here.



Hanging with Bailey, our female Lab mix.


He found another new friend.



Of course Bailey taught Hootie a few bad habits, but what the heck!



His only flaw, attacking and killing stuffed animals.



His last year, with blindness setting in.
















Before and after pictures just a few weeks apart, the difference in him is striking.



Here are some more pictures, just showing us hanging together. I will miss him so much...











45 comments:

  1. Oh Chris, I'm so sorry. I wish pets lived as long as we did. It's so heart crushing.

    My thoughts are with you and the family.

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  2. Man, S.D. My heart goes out to you. Sounds like he was a great friend.

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  3. Oh I'm so sorry. Everything you said was beautiful, and the pictures...

    What is it with everyone's pets dying recently? Is it a blog thing?

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  4. I am so sorry for your loss of Hootie.
    This was a beautiful and moving tribute to his life.

    I'll admit to wiping away a few tears.

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  5. We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan.

    Irving Townsend-"The Once Again Prince"

    My deepest sympathies for the loss of a true member of your family.

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  6. I'm so sorry, Dad. My condolences to everyone.

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  7. Excuse me while I grab a kleenex. I need to cry some more.

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  8. Oh no!! Sky Dad, I'm so absolutely sorry!! I know how that feels. It's crushing, I know. Of course it is. Ugh, you've got me bawling here. But what a beautiful tribute to Hootie. Really. (sniffle). If you lived next door to me, Sky Dad, I'd run right over and give you a big, big hug! I'm so sorry.

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  9. I'm so, so sorry for your loss.

    May Hootie rest in peace.

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  10. That's too bad. My lab is almost ten and has had some problems lately so the same thing has been going through my head.

    My heart goes out to you.

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  11. I am so so so sorry...


    you gave him a great life....

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  12. Hugs and tears to you Chris. It is never easy losing a pet no matter how many you have lost in the past. He will be with you always and watching over Skyler


    I am so sorry

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  13. Oh Chris, my heart is breaking for you. I have no idea what I'll do when my girl goes. Eleven years and counting....four of them with diabetes and insulin shots everyday.

    You have me in tears, too. Wishing you peace and wonderful memories to overtake the pain.

    (((Hugs)))

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  14. Oh Chris, my heart is breaking for you. I have no idea what I'll do when my girl goes. Eleven years and counting....four of them with diabetes and insulin shots everyday.

    You have me in tears, too. Wishing you peace and wonderful memories to overtake the pain.

    (((Hugs)))

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  15. Jeff Ferreira10:27 AM

    Oh Chris - I'm so sorry. You have my deepest sympathy. Everyone who has had this experience certainly feels that pain with you. Take heart though, and try to rejoice in the happiness that Hootie gave to you, and that you and your family certainly gave to him.

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  16. Dammit, now I'm crying. I know you've got a really big Hootie-shaped hole in your heart, but it sounds like you guys had a lot of good times, good memories... You have our sympathies!

    How is Skyler doing with this?

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  17. His Name was Caesar. Just like the roman emporer. we adopted him when he was 3 years old and I was just 6. He moved with us 6 times to three different states. The year I turned 16 we noticed a lump on his left thigh. The doctor removed it and found directly beneath a cancerous tumor. He gave my good boy six months to live. It wasn't until almost three years later that I had to put him down. Those last three years were the best ever. He still played fetch and went on walks. He beat the odds. He was my best friend and I still tear up when I think about him.

    The loss of a beloved pet is just as heart wrenching as that of a human. Sometimes greater, for who but they will love us unconditionally until the day they pass on to the next life.

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  18. My heart goes out to you old friend.

    Doc

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  19. I'm so sorry, so very sorry for the loss of your companion. You did good by posting all those pictures and all the fond remembrances. It's the terrible thing about having a companion animal--when they leave. Good God that hurts.

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  20. I'm sorry for your loss. I know it was difficult to say good-bye, but I'm proud of you for being brave enough to stay with him. I've held pets as they were put down, and even though Hootie may not have understood exactly what was happening, staying by his side and comforting him made all the differece. He left knowing that he was loved.

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  21. Sorry for you loss. I say this as my feet bath in the warmth of 5 of my own.

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  22. I have tears in my eyes reading this. Did the same thing with my little buddy two years ago. Life sure isn't the same when you don't have your friend by your side.

    Hugs to you!

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  23. we put 2 of our babies down last year, and held each one until it was over. they died surrounded by our love and that will hold them until we are together again, cuz i so truly believe we will be. chris and family, i am so so so very sorry for your pain. let the wonderful memories warm and comfort you when you miss him. animals know when they find their family. they KNOW. and he had his with you guys. god bless all of your aching hearts. he was beautiful.


    C

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  24. Hootie was very much loved.

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  25. I cried. I'm so sorry for your loss. Some people don't get that a pet isn't just a pet, it becomes part of your family.

    I awarded you an award. Because it shows I care! Go pick it up and congratulations for being awesome!

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  26. I cried too

    I'm so sorry.
    =(


    He had a happy life
    because of you.

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  27. Sorry about the loss of your dog. Dang.

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  28. I was telling G man about your post today and he wanted me to let you know putting Hootie down was the right thing to do. We had our Twink for 12 years, she acted the way you described Hootie. We opted for the surgery...$2000.00.... they found cancer...a week later we had to put her down. If we had to do it over we would not do the surgery....she suffered needless because of it.....Best Wishes G man and cheer

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  29. What a beautiful tribute, Chris, for such a lovely dog. He was so lucky y'all found him. I'm sitting here sobbing. For you, and for the pets I've gone through this for.

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  30. Anonymous6:25 PM

    I'm so sorry for your loss today, Chris.

    My mom lost a pet when she was a little girl, and it affected her for her entire life. She felt that getting a pet was like getting a heartbreak - and she just couldn't understand why anyone would put themselves through it.

    Funny, both my sister and I are avid animal lovers. We see it differently. Love is love - it is always worth it, ironically, especially because it hurts. (Hurt sucks, but it wouldn't hurt if there wasn't something to hurt over.)

    Take care. Please consider adopting one or two of my four dogs, would you? I love them dearly, but I'm in over my head! Knowing that someone like you loves them would be such a blessing. One of them looks a lot like Hootie, only King-Sized Hootie. He could use some cooler weather.

    I know. It is too soon.

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  31. Oh no Chris! I'm so sorry. That really, really sucks. Hootie was such a great dog, and so photogenic. You both were lucky to find each other.

    I told Tobiko about it and she sends her regrets. You can believe I'm going to give her extra pets from now on. Pets' lives are way too short.

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  32. What a beautiful tribute to your furry friend. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    I'm with you on the "never really get over losing them." It's just so hard...

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  33. My deepest sympathies to you and your family - Hootie was a real cutie, and you gave him an awesome home. So very sorry my friend...

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  34. Such unconditional love they give us. I own a doggie daycare business and have the following quote stenciled on the wall: "Dogs aren't our whole lives, but they make our lives whole." My heart goes out to you as I know how heartbreaking it is to say goodbye to a beloved pet. He sounds like he was just precious.

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  35. So sad to hear this. Hootie was adorable! Losing a pet is always traumatic. People who don't think it is...well, I don't trust people like that. Those people who will stand there and gape and say, "it's just a DOG," I swear they have no souls.

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  36. So sorry to hear about your Hootie.

    Take care

    #1

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  37. Oh, I'm so sorry. Hootie was a beautiful dog. It looks like he had a love filled happy life thanks to you :)

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  38. I'm sorry for your loss. You showed a lot of compassion for him by doing the right thing, even when it hurt you.

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  39. What a wonderful looking friend, I'm glad you got so much love from him.

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  40. Awww sweet thing that's so sad

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  41. Sorry to hear it, sir - those pictures belie a life as happy as any of us could hope for.

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  42. What a handsome boy he was and what a great life he had with you! My condolences to you. ;)
    G

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  43. Oh what a beautiful story. What a GORGEOUS time you had with a kind, gentle spirit.

    True love is so hard to find sometimes. True friendship, that lasts and lasts is even harder.

    cherish the memories and keep them alive. love and kindness are for every single day, whether our friends are with us or not.

    :)

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  44. Oh wow, SD, I am so sorry!!! I teared up when I read this. I feel for you, I've had to make the same decision about a beloved dog, and it is the hardest thing I've ever done. I just found your blog and am reading my way through it, you are very funny! Take care!

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