A dog friend we told you about during our travels was put down last week, at precisely 1:45 a.m. on Friday, after some long goodbyes from his family — George and Kathleen, who bid him farewell at the vet’s office in Virginia, and their daughter Elizabeth, who had a final talk with him via cellphone from California.
Puck was six weeks shy of turning 18.
Blind and deaf for the past two years, with one eye surgically removed, and diagnosed with congestive heart failure, Puck persevered — and did so with dignity, despite the diapers he wore and the daily shots he had to receive.
After months of wondering how they would know when it was time, they knew it was time.
The veterinary staff sent them to a room where they could say their goodbyes. They hugged him, cried a lot, and fed him turkey breast. He wagged his tail. They placed a call to their daughter in California and held the cell phone to Puck’s ear as she said goodbye.
Elizabeth was 7 when they got Puck, and she came up with the name — as in pucker up — because he liked to kiss. She’s 24 now.
A neighbor offered them the dog back then, describing the pup as a poodle. He didn’t look much like a poodle at all. That didn’t matter. They raised and taught Puck, and when he grew old, he, as dogs will do, taught them a thing or two, by example.
Puck was toted upstairs every night, carried downstairs every morning. Despite all his medical issues, the suspected strokes, the epilepsy, Puck was a stoic little guy. He never whined.
Despite all the inconveniences, the diapers, the shots, the veterinary bills, neither did Kathleen and George.
Near the end, Puck didn’t do much more than eat, sleep and cuddle.
Still, George noted, “It’s amazing the void there is now that he’s gone.”
Rest in peace, Puck.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aging dogs, america, animals, dead, death, dogs, dying, elderly dogs, goodbye, grieving, illness, in memory, medicine, mixed breed, old dogs, pets, poodle, puck, road trip, saying goodbye, terrier, travels with ace, veterinary, void
Puck’s family thinks their aging dog has lost most of his senses. He’s deaf. He’s blind in the one eye he has left. And if you put a treat on the ground in front of him, he can’t seem to hone in on it by sniffing. It’s more of a random search. He may or may not taste his watered down food.
But at least one sense remains — not one of the big five, but an important one all the same — his sense of dignity.
At 17, Puck doesn’t run anymore. In recent years, his three block walks shrunk to two block walks, then one block walks, then no block walks. He can’t do the stairs anymore. He has epilepsy, an enlarged heart, a hacking cough. He goes through long periods where he seems to zone out – standing motionlessly like a mini-cow in pasture — possibly the result of mini-strokes. He wears a diaper around the clock.
These days, Puck doesn’t jump, doesn’t play – instead he spends his days asleep or in quiet reflection.
And that’s just fine with George Fish and Kathleen Sullivan.
Puck can cuddle as well as he ever did; relishes a scratch behind the ears as much as he ever did – maybe even more.
George was once my college roommate; and my overnight visit with them last week at their home in Fredericksburg, Virginia, was the third time I’d seen Puck – the first being when he was a youngster, the second about two years ago. When I reconnect with George on the phone, I’m usually afraid to ask about Puck, fearing the worst. But George generally volunteers the information: “Puck’s still alive.” Or “Puck’s still around.”
George and Kathleen’s daughter, Elizabeth, was 7 when they got Puck, and she came up with the name — as in pucker up — based on how much he liked to kiss. She’s 24 now and living in California.
The dog – part of a litter that resulted from an unauthorized get-together between a poodle and a terrier — didn’t look anything like a poodle, Kathleen notes. “But it was cute.”
She called her husband to let him know: “We sort of have a dog now.”
“George came home and I think in three seconds he was in love,” she said.
Nearly a generation later, Puck remains – less lively, less mobile and diaper clad. It attaches with Velcro and holds a sanitary napkin, a regular one during the day, a maxi pad at night. It’s removed for his trips outside, where he mostly stands motionlessly, his tail periodically going into bouts of wagging.
Every night, they tote him to his upstairs bed. Every morning, they carry him to his downstairs bed, which they call his “office.” Next to it is a family portrait, a toy fax machine,a stapler and a collection of Puck’s other favorite things.
George says he has learned a lot from Puck – both about patience and grace.
Puck has had to put up with eye ulcers, which led to the removal of one of his eyes a year ago, and after that he lost sight in the remaining one. Vet bills amounted to about $4,000 for the eye problems alone. He also has been on medication for epileptic seizures since he was a pup. He’s probably had some small strokes, and his cough has led to more vet bills and interrupted sleep.
How much does all that matter in the big scheme of dog-family love? Not a bit.
Some friends tell George it’s time to put Puck down, but George can’t see doing that – “not as long as his tail keeps wagging.”
Posted by jwoestendiek August 29th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, aging, animals, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, elderly, fredericksburg, george fish, kathleen sullivan, mixed breed, mutt, old, old dogs, pets, poodle, puck, road trip, terrier, virginia