On the loss of a pet

I realize I have totally neglected this blog for months. I may be getting too scattered for my own good. I still use Facebook quite a bit in spite of all the problems with it. And post some things on Instagram. And hopefully, you are already receiving my Mail-chimp newsletters. Please like my Facebook music page. Or you are welcome to actually friend me. Just bear in mind I talk about all sorts of things there and we may not agree.


So much has happened lately but the biggest change has been the loss of Marty, my basset hound.

Marty was my bridge after Kathy had passed away. He was my muse and kept me smiling through a lot of stuff, and he was over 14.

 The last week of March I brought him to Diana’s Grooming Salon. He seemed like he was his usual arthritic self. I had to help him up a few stairs.  But while he was there He started peeing uncontrollably. He peed in the crate while he was waiting too. Dogs hate to do that unless something is wrong. The groomers were worried about him. He seemed to be walking funny that day and wouldn’t eat much of anything although he kept drinking his water. Then that evening he threw up several times. He started yelping in pain and I tried to sleep on the floor with him on his extra dog cushion.

The next day I brought him to his vet in Hampden. She said she could feel some sort of mass in his abdomen. They did blood work and tried to X-ray him but I guess Marty wouldn’t cooperate by lying on his back. The X-rays they were able to do hinted at some sort of thing in his stomach area. They tried to show it to me but I couldn’t see whatever faint shadow they could see. They suggested that I could bring him to a vet hospital equipped with ultrasound equipment. The nearest place was in Connecticut about 45 minutes away. That vet would do the ultrasound and send the results to Marty’s vet and would be a little cheaper. Exploratory surgery was mentioned as a possibility to see what was going on. Marty and I went home. I didn’t even want to make him go on a long ride to another vet.

They gave me some pain meds for him and something to increase his appetite. And gave him some fluids. He seemed as comfortable as he could be. Saturday morning I called them up and told them I had decided to let him go. We decided to bring him in at the end of the day when the office would be empty. He slept most of the day and I brought him in.

Now he seemed like he was walking better and of course, I started having doubts.

When we arrived at the vet they had me pre-pay so that I could just leave once it was done. I had to decide if I wanted to bring his body home to bury. Or did I want his ashes returned? We kept having snow and sleet and my yard is a rock farm. There was no guarantee I could have dug a hole big enough. I decided that they should take care of it.

They brought us to a different office. Marty went into a nearby room where they installed some sort of catheter or line on his leg. They put blankets and a pad on the floor where I was sitting and led him in. He seemed to be smiling. I don’t think he was saying “Thanks.” But I knew it was the right thing to do. The vet and the assistant got down on the floor with Marty and I and she explained what was going to happen. Each step. First, she injected some sleeping medicine into the line. He immediately fell asleep. Then she dispensed the medicine to stop his breathing and heart. It was very quick.

I asked the vet if this is the hardest thing she has to do? She said, “Oh, not really. The hardest thing is when it isn’t really necessary.” She said there are times you “know you could do more to help the animal.” Or if there is a financial reason. Or a family fight or divorce. She said Marty had a good long happy life and there is little chance that anything would have helped him. “It was his time.”

She listened once more to his chest. “He passed.”

I patted him once more. They gave me Marty’s leash and collar and I left through a separate door so that I didn’t have to go through the lobby.

Thanks to all who offered their support, personally and on Facebook. It is really interesting how losing a pet is a chance for others to offer their condolences and to grieve a little more for some of their favorite dogs and cats. There is a sense of bonding. Maybe it feels safer to talk about the pets we have lost, than the loved ones we have lost to accidents or disease. Those human losses are so personal. The loss of a pet may be universal.


Back to fostering

When I returned home I put Marty’s food and water dishes away and stored his dog beds underneath my own bed. Some of his toys stayed on the floor for a few days. The following week I decided to contact New England Basset Hound Rescue about resuming fostering. Kathy and I enjoyed doing that for several years. I had attempted to foster a year or so ago and they placed a basset mix named Droopy with me. But when my sister, Barbara got ill and went into hospice I had to transfer him to another foster. I believe that next foster person adopted Droopy and was training him to be a therapy dog.

The rescue responded that they would put me on the list for foster homes. All their dogs were in foster care at the moment. But a week or so later they let me know that a foster dog named “Ian” needed to be relocated. The woman fostering him couldn’t take care of him.

I looked at his photo on the web and thought, “Since he is only part basset and doesn’t even look like a basset, I’m probably safe just fostering him. I won’t get attached. And I can wait for a real basset.”

We made the transfer at a Dunkin Donuts parking lot halfway between Hampden and Cape Cod. I went over his vet records with the couple. Ian was a runaway from a Texas kill shelter. I asked the couple, “Who names their dog, Ian?” The husband said “Well the good thing about bassets is they don’t remember anything. You could call them something different each day.” The foster mom said that one of the names listed on the vet records was “Dallas.”

They said Ian was pretty well-behaved. He needs more leash training. He jumps up when you get his food and he is a counter surfer. Oh and he chews shoes.

Ian and I drove home to Hampden.  ( to be continued)

Driving home with Ian

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  6 comments for “On the loss of a pet

  1. David A Stuart
    April 28, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    You’re a good man, Peter!

    Marty knew this about you.

  2. George
    April 28, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    Aw Peter. I’m so sorry about Marty. He was always with you and he loved you . When Ed died in January I was so happy to have my dog with me. She has helped me a lot .
    The best to you with Ian or Dallas or whatever you want to call him. He will have a wonderful life now.

    Best to you always. I love reading your blog.

  3. Joe and Nancy
    April 28, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    Good Looking Hound. You should post the rescue organization. Maybe some followers of yours will reach out….

  4. April 28, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    I believe that when we die and move on to our next existence, our dogs will be there to greet us. You gave Marty a graceful life. The final gift to our dogs is a gentle and peaceful passing, a release from pain.

  5. Randy
    April 28, 2018 at 9:43 pm

    I guess that’s the downside of getting off the Facebook train. You don’t hear the news — good or bad — in a timely fashion. I am saddened by your loss. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I say goodbye to Alice. Best of luck with Ian.

  6. Betsy
    April 28, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    Alas, poor Marty. I occasionally worried about this. Glad you got Ian.

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