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Tag: goodbye

Saying goodbye to Ace

SONY DSC

He was a well-traveled dog who loved the road more than anything, except maybe you and me.

He was a survivor of Baltimore’s less tender side who was picked up as a stray, placed in a city shelter, found a home with some writer guy and went on to become a therapy dog and minor celebrity.

He was the subject of a five-part newspaper series examining his roots, a book (unpublished and unfinished), the inspiration for this website, and my reason for being.

SONY DSCHe was an ambassador for mutts, and, more particularly, for all those disrespected breeds his sweet, gentle self was made up of — Rottweiler, Akita, Chow and pit bull.

And now the hardest words I’ve ever written: Ace is dead.

Last week, he was frolicking in the woods. This week, he slowed down to a state near lethargy and showed little interest in eating, and in the past two days he began swelling up — mostly in the belly region.

Having recovered from his recent bladder surgery, he was the same dog he always was — until Monday night when he came inside showing no interest in his nightly treat.

The vet’s diagnosis was congestive heart failure and possible tumors — hemangiosarcoma.

Blood was not getting to his liver, and fluids were pooling up inside.

Based on Ace’s age (nearly 12, a good 90 in human years for a dog of his size), based on the poor outlook in either case, or the even worse outlook in the case of both, and based on his apparent discomfort, the vet recommended putting him down.

When I asked for some time to think about it, the vet said that wasn’t a good idea. When I asked to take Ace home and bring him back today, he said that wasn’t a good idea, either.

So we took an hour before the deed was to be done. We started walking. It started raining. It was taking all of his effort to keep up with me, and I (being a fellow member of the congestive heart failure club) walk pretty darn slow.

brendanfinnertyWe only walked a few hundred yards, yet in that time I was asked twice what kind of dog he was, and thanked four people who complimented him on his good looks.

We stopped at a Domino’s and sat on the pavement under an overhang. I bought him a small cheese pizza — his favorite food. He took two bites, but only because I insisted.

We stopped in the rain on the way back. I briefly debated whether I was doing the right thing. I held his head in my hands, rested my head on his and looked into his eyes. I could still see the love in them, but not the joy.

Back at the vet, on the floor with his head in my lap, the vet administered a sedative. Ace was soon snoring. Once the lethal injection was administered, his heartbeat slowed within minutes and then, around 6 p.m. Thursday, stopped.

I’ll get his ashes in a week or so, and I’ll spread them in Black Walnut Bottoms, the trail in Bethania he loved.

Having written a lot about dogs and death, I thought I’d be better prepared for this. But I’m a wreck.

In answer to one of the questions asked a lot over the years, no — a resounding NO! — he will not be cloned. Having written a book on dog cloning, people ask that of me. Clearly, they never read the book.

SONY DSCIn answer to another — whatever happened to that book you were writing about Ace? — well, 95 percent of it exists, but only on the Internet.

In 2011, Ace and I set off on a trip duplicating the route John Steinbeck took in “Travels with Charley.”

It ended up lasting a year, and covering 27,000 miles. I think I speak for both of us when I say it was the time of our lives.

Travels with Ace” didn’t interest any publishers, but it will hang around on the Internet — at least until my time comes.

I still need to finish the last chapter, but I can promise you this:

In the book, Ace won’t die.

(Photos: Top, Ace at Salvation Mountain in California; Ace at the Bandera County Courier in Texas; Ace and John (photo by Brendan Finnerty); Ace with a bust of John Steinbeck in Monterey, California)

Family fulfills their Labrador’s “bucket list”

hudsonWhen Hudson, a 10-year-old chocolate Labrador was diagnosed with cancer, the Piper family of Irvine, California, put together a “bucket list” of his favorite things — from eating popcorn to riding in the car with his head out the window.

Their vet had predicted the dog had only a month to live, but Hudson survived three more months — long enough for the Pipers to check off every item.

Jenny and David Piper got Hudson the day they moved into their first home. After that, they moved on to children — four girls, including a set of twins, according to a story in yesterday’s Orange County Register.

After notifying their children of Hudson’s pending demise, the family came up with a plan to make the most of the time he had left — a bucket list.

The first item on it was a popcorn movie night, Hudson got his own sleeping bag on the floor with the kids to watch “Hotel For Dogs” and eat a bowl of buttered popcorn.

Next came a pancake dinner – a bowl of cheerios and pancakes. They would check off the list as they went. He had the car ride with his head out the window, more walks around the neighborhood, and extra hugs and kisses.

On the night it became clear that the end was near, the family all said their goodbyes,  and the next morning David Piper stopped and got Hudson some doughnuts on the way to the vet’s office, where he was put down.

In addition to fulfilling all the items on the bucket list, the Piper family left a gift in his name for canine cancer research.

Daughter Maggie, 8, after hearing a story at school about Terry Fox, who attempted to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research — and decided to something similar.

She asked the school if she could sell bracelets on campus for animal cancer research.  In all, she earned $1,300. The family dropped the money off at the veterinary school at UC Davis  last week.

Family is reunited with dog they surrendered

tacomareunionHere’s an ending almost too happy to be believed.

Three years ago, a Washington man surrendered his family dog, a five-year-old shepherd mix named Haley, to the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County.

An unspecified family crisis forced the family to give up the dog, the humane society said.

Though gone, she was not forgotten. The father still kept photos of the dog on his iphone, and his daughter, now 12, was, still missing and talking about the dog they had said goodbye to years earlier.

This week, with their crisis averted and the family having decided to get another dog, the father dropped by the Tacoma Humane Society to look at potential adoptees. Though it’s not uncommon for shelter dogs to start jumping and yapping when people come by, one dog went particularly crazy when the father approached, staff members say.

Taking a closer look, the father was shocked to see that the dog making all the noise was — you guessed it — Haley!

As it turns out, Haley, after being surrendered by the family, was adopted in 2007, but the family that adopted her the second time had so much trouble with her continually running away they’d returned her, just a few days ago.

The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County, which related the story on their  Facebook page, said the dog and her original family are now reunited.