This morning, Willow, my failed foster from DRU (Doberman Rescue, Unlimited), was released from her pain in my arms.
Willow (Bowie's Shake Your Love v DRU) came home with me exactly 8 months ago, on a cold NH morning. It had been a little over a month after I had lost Mya (a hound mix), and I missed having two dogs in the house. Introductions could not have gone better at the time - Bowie and Willow were fine with each other and home she came.
Willow quickly proved that she wasn't an easy dog to love - she had been in two homes before being dropped off in a shelter in NY - but she grew on all of us. Her trepidation and fear in the house quickly became apparent - she would try her best to be in any other room but the one you were in - often secluding herself somewhere so quietly that noone could find her. She would crawl into your bed when you were gone, but run as soon as you came in the room, shaking. She tried to sleep in closets and eventually claimed my bathroom as her throne, complete with her leopard print bed and her elephant pillow - the only toy she would ever play with. I would often wake up early in the morning to the sound of her tossing this pillow around...
Willow was ncredibly fearful of the camera, and one flash would send her running to the bathroom to hide. Her fear also included expens and plastic bags. She also was barely housebroken - never understanding what it meant to ask to go outside, and if you were not around she would simply go where she was.
Willow's limp became more and more pronounced as time came on, and it became clear that it wasn't Wobbler's, which was the original thought. However she seemed to manage the pain well with acupuncture and chiropractics. Gradually she began to spend some time with us, enjoying walks and keeping everyone in their place. All progress we had made however came spiralling down when I lost my heart male Dobe Bowie, on April 4, 2006 (a mere 5 months after bringing her home) - the stress and sheer pain I felt was mirrored in Willow's behavior, as she spent literally 4 days hiding in the bathroom from me. I tried to reach her, but it took a long time... and we both needed someone in the house.
Three short weeks later, we took the trip back up to DRU and came home with a big blue male puppy - Willow tolerated him and even deigned sometimes to play - her royal highness enjoyed romping around and playing biteyface, quick to correct Rah whenever he bothered her (which was often!). She became a new dog - she was out sleeping in the living room, she asked to go for walks, and she enjoyed the presence of some happiness in both our lives. With that happiness came great pain though - her lameness becamse worse, and the pain control we had wasn't cutting it - Just three short weeks after Rah came home, Willow could not bear weight on that leg and radiographs revealed the reason - she had osteosarcoma.
Willow had her left front leg amputated on May 19th, and she handled that with grace and poise - she was not held back by only having three legs. Ten hours after surgery she was up and standing, demanding to be pet and enjoying having personal slaves at the vet school at her beck and call. She came home and defied me by doing stairs just 4 days after surgery - and on day 5, she played. Yes, folks - my tripod doberman with the big mean incision (54 staples) that covered her entire chest - brought that big blue puppy into the living room and MADE him play with her... and they fell in love all over again. Willow was a natural tripod- handling stairs, walks, and even trying to jump in and out of my car. She enjoyed wrestling with Rah daily and even managed to eat big raw meaty bones with only one front leg. She ran and chased other dogs,
Our world came crashing in when on her recheck to clear her for chemo - the chest metastases that we had hoped were just artifacts on the radiographs became clear that they were no such thing - Willow's cancer was back with a vengeance all over her chest. We enjoyed the remaining three weeks, and just 10 days ago Willow sat on the beach gazing out at the Long Island Sound - she waded in the water, she enjoyed the sand, and yes, she tried to escape (tripods CAN run fast!).
I am glad we had that day 10 days ago - since then, Willow has slowly faded. Four days ago her breathing became labored and she started coughing up some blood, and she hadn't eaten much since then, only nibbled on some treats. This morning, the light had gone from her eyes and she collapsed twice trying to go outside. So we went for one last walk - the brave girl rallied all her strength and came when the jingle of her collar and leash called her - and she walked slowly outside and onto the grass, and was helped into my car.
No, she wasn't an easy dog to love - but I loved her none-the-less. No matter what size hole she filled 8 months ago, she left an equally big one this morning.
May you never be in pain again, and may you always have another dog to boss around.
Run fast Willow, and catch up to Bowie. And BOTH of you - wait for me.