Monday, September 28, 2009

It's a Dog's Life

My wife and I picked Chloe out of a litter of 12 puppies. She was the second largest pup and the largest female. Technically she was a yellow lab but her fur was so light that a lot of folks called her a white lab.

We decided to get a dog because we wanted to have kids. I know that sounds odd but we had been climbing up the ladder of things we could love and keep alive. My wife had a cat already when we got married. Shortly after that we adopted another cat from the Humane Society. A year after that we adopted a kitten. We loved every new member of our family and they all got along like, well, family.

Chloe was our "transitional child". The step between a kitten (which requires a polite point in the direction of it's litter box and food bowl) and a child (which requires a hell of a lot more than a polite point.)

We brought her home when she was 7 weeks old. I was in art school at the time so I got to spend tons of time with her. There was the occasional bout of "why the hell did we get a dog?!?!" But way more often than not each day with her was just a little more fun than the one before it. We even based a new car purchase on the fact that Chloe was too big to sit on the seat of my little, Nissan pick-up truck. Big was an 7 months she was already 70 pounds. She would top out at just under 100 pounds. Our vet called her our "big framed gal."

Chloe was 2 when our first daughter was born. That was when we started calling her the "gentle giant." Except for the occasional grumble (sounding more like a cranky old man than a dog) Chloe never once showed anything but love and patience with our girls. She was almost too good. Our daughters assumed that all dogs the size of small ponies must be as sweet as her. We managed to teach them that's not always the case. Chloe's sweet disposition was also the deciding factor in us adopting our second dog. Bliss (she came with that name so it stayed) was our rescue dog and quickly became Chloe's best friend. Chloe and Bliss would spend the next several years almost completely inseparable. Bliss has her issues so they quickly became known as "tweedle dee and tweedle dumb-ass."

Last year Chloe had her "episode." She collapsed. We took her to the emergency vet. We found out that she had internal bleeding and they ended up removing her spleen. Chloe had cancer. Hemangiosarcoma to be exact. We opted out of traditional chemo and went the "alternative route." We decided to do this because we couldn't bare the idea of her spending time feeling bad because of the treatment. The type of cancer she had guaranteed that she only had a short time and we wanted that time to be as quality as it could be. We were told we'd had 3 months if we were lucky...we got 8. They were an incredible 8 months too. Chloe did have some bad days but more often than not her days were really good. I cherished those days as did my wife. We knew what was inevitable so getting to spend this extra time with here was priceless.

I was in Austin on business when my wife called. Chloe was having a bad day. It quickly became obvious that it wasn't one of her normal bad days. She was bleeding internally again and the vet believed that the cancer had finally spread to her liver. My wonderful, incredible and loving wife made sure that Chloe's last bit of time with us was peaceful and filled with love.

Every room now seems to have a huge hole in it where our gentle giant should be. Some folks will probably read this and think, "dude, it's just a dog." That's fine. They don't get it and I don't expect them to. But to us she was more than a dog. Chloe helped us get ready for the much larger decisions in our life. She made our children smile daily (not every child has a giant dog that will patiently wear a tutu and a wig.) She was always there with unconditional love no matter how far I drug her across country (we did find out that she was a mountain girl at heart.) I think about her every morning as I walk Bliss and Maggie (our other dog.) Chloe was sweet, loving, gentle natured and one of my best friends.

.....I miss you "bugga."

No comments: