Thursday, July 8, 2010

Blue moon dog

I love every dog that's come through my house. Foster or otherwise. But anyone who's had dogs knows there are one or two that somehow manage to be more amazing than the rest. And that's the case with my Springer Spaniel, Brittany.

We don't call her Brittany much anymore, in fact, we never really did. She-of-a-thousand-nicknames has always been way too silly to be called such a prissy name. Her names run the gamut from Snuggles to Psycho. Poopyhead to Wigglebottom.

We adopted Brit when she was 2 (or so the vet guessed) and had come into Springer Spaniel Rescue after being hit by a car. Her family didn't want her back and didn't care that she was a) in pain, and b) would likely be euthanized.

Luckily a local vet in CT where she was found did some major surgery pro-bono because she was so special. The ACO that brought her into the vet called Springer Spaniel Rescue who then called us (the recently approved adopters). We were so taken by her personality that her inability to walk after surgery did not scare us away.

Brit was our first dog together. Ron had cats when he was a kid, but never dogs. I had dogs but my mom was always the main caretaker. Adopting Brit - especially given her issues - was a huge leap of faith that has changed my life.

She was a lot of work when we got her. Traumatized both physically and emotionally, we struggled to get her well. She rebounded from her hip surgery quicker than she did from the terrible anxiety that overwhelmed her at times. Even today she doesn't do well with change and seems to still fear, 10 years later, that she will be ditched again.

At heart, she is a fun, silly, happy, affectionate, and intuitive dog. The only "trouble" we've had with her is her love for chasing (and sometimes even catching) little furry creatures outside. An invisible fence kept her contained but two years ago, her hip started to act up again. It was then we found that her knees were an issue also and surgery isn't an option.

Most of her days are spent inside now. A retired racehorse of sorts. We take her on walks when her joint issues aren't too bad. We control the pain with meds and she is on a regimen of holistic treatments to attempt to keep her comfortable and rebuild some strength in her hind quarters.

However, lately some of the positive effects from treatments are being lost and we are faced with the reality that her mobility and pain may result in a life-ending decision. We thought that since our unhealthy Springer Alex made it to 15, surely Brit would too.

It's been hard for me to come to terms with this reality. Brit is my best friend, my constant companion, and "my little girl". Lots of emotions are tied up with her and I'm dreading the day when a decision has to be made. I also wonder if I will be capable of making one since letting go of her will be the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.

Last night, when she was dawdling with her dinner, I thought it was due mostly to her not being able to stand for long to eat. So I indulged her by sitting with her and feeding her by hand until she was tempted to start eating on her own again.

As always, she was as interested in me as anything else in front of her. She'd take one bite of food for herself, then lick my face. Another bite, then lick my fingers holding the bowl. She seemed to figure out early on that I love her as much as she loves me. And that will never change between us.

I've decided that I will continue to let her know just how much she means to me until I have to let her go. Don't say dogs aren't tuned in to how you feel. They know you better than you know yourself because they're not fooled by the words that come out of your mouth.

They read your heart and judge you by your actions. At least my Brit does.


  1. Kathy this was so sweet. I know how you are feeling and the fear and sadness this time causes. Dogs are the only animal I know that love with all of their being. My thoughts are with you during this time in your lives.

  2. Thank you for your thoughts. I hope I will be able to rise to the occasion when I have to. Only time will tell...

  3. Somehow..... she'll figure out how to help you. That's what dogs do.

  4. You and Brit are blessed to have each other! When the time comes, you'll do the right thing for her.