Remembering our furry family members that have crossed the rainbow bridge.
In Memoriam - Rumble
Even as you were dying, you were perfect. The way you politely paced in the middle of the night to see if one of us might be sleeping lightly enough to hear you. The prednisone made you drink more and pee more. If the gentle pacing didn’t work, you would let out the quietest cry, “meep,” until one of us stirred. We never wanted you to feel uncomfortable or stressed, so one of us would push ourselves awake and stumble outside with you. It reminded me of when you were a puppy, and we had to take turns taking you out in the night. You were so easy to house train. You were so easy to train to do anything. You were perfect.
We lived on a 4000-acre farm in Florida when we got you, so you experienced the leashless freedom of a farm dog. But you never left us. Why would you? We walked you on and off the farm every day, and you got used to seeing horses, cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, armadillos, and various other wildlife. It was normal for you. I was always awestruck that when we ran into another animal, I could always call you off. When I said, “Rumble, come!” it was as if a gun had gone off, and you raced back to us and sat. You learned so quickly when I taught you to move off the road and lie down whenever a truck was coming towards us on the farm. You actually learned this a bit too well. As soon as you heard a motor, you would move off the road and lie down, refusing to budge. I would eventually see the truck headlights approaching in the distance, and we would have to wait for it to pass before we could continue our walk because you were a safety dog. Somehow you also learned that freshwater in Florida is not for swimming due to alligators, but beaches in Florida (or anywhere) are the best thing ever. You swam after your ball for hours, hitting the Chuckit with your paw when we weren’t throwing it fast enough for you. Then, you would come back to our beach shelter and dry yourself on my towel. Still, you were perfect.
Your farm dog good looks got you a lot of attention, especially with the rural southern male crowd. I can’t even count how many times a cowboy in Florida stopped me and said, “Ma’am,” (and I always knew what was coming next. Wait for it…) “That’s a real purdy dog.” Once a cowboy even yelled that from his truck. That’s just how purdy you were; cowboys catcalled you. I always thought you were so beautiful, but I was never sure if it was because you were, or just because I loved you so much, the way mothers love ugly babies. But you were so handsome with your shepherd markings and your heeler speckled feet and muzzle and your dark eyes. I loved looking at you when you slept, so beautiful and perfect and cute.
I was so proud of you when we went on our book tour together. So proud to have you on the cover with me. So amazed with how you took all the travel and book signings and TV stations in stride. Time zones were hard for you, and when you woke me up at 4 a.m. for your morning pee in downtown Calgary, I had to oblige because it was 6 a.m. your time, and you always stuck to a strict schedule. And when the young guy, he was only about 18, came to talk to us at 4 a.m. because he was so excited to see a dog, because he had grown up with a dog like you, you let him talk. But when he got too close, you flashed your teeth at him and let out a low growl. Not a smile this time, but not overly aggressive either. He got the picture and said it was okay; it was a good thing because you were just protecting me. I always felt so safe with you. I was so proud walking with you, too. Everyone always commented on how well-trained you were. People asked me if you were a service dog because of the way you sat quietly, always doing exactly what I wanted you to. You were perfect.
You transitioned from being a southern dog to a Canadian dog and had to experience four winters. You learned to love the snow unless the temperature was -15C or worse. Then it was a hard no. You refused to wear booties, and while you put up with the coat I bought you, you did not love wearing it. Instead, you grew your own warm winter coat. Dogs are so adaptable. You learned to love lying by the fire on a winter night together. You were my constant through all the moves and job changes, and I never felt lonely if I was with you. I loved walking with you and, even through the pandemic, I was happy if I could spend time outside with you every day. I would watch you as you walked, your ears up, but the right one always just a bit more lax. The tip would bob up and down as you cantered along. And as we walked, I would feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t have a dog.
All my professional time is spent caring for dogs and cats with cancer, but somehow, despite having had animals for my entire life, I have never had this experience as a pet owner until now. I think of myself as such a tough person, as someone who can power through anything, but taking care of my beautiful dog with terminal stomach cancer has proved too much for me. I feel I might break from sadness.
This window into what my clients go through has been enlightening and horrible. The pill schedule alone is so hard. You hated all the pills, but you were so good. You would army crawl over to me, obedient but clearly not happy with the situation, hiding your head in my lap and thumping your tail lightly on the floor, asking me not to keep shoving pills down your throat—so many pills. I switched to hiding them in peanut butter, one of the only things that you would eat. I was relieved that we found this compromise.
I feel cheated by your relatively short life. I wanted a mixed-breed pound puppy rather than a purebred dog because I have seen so many purebreds with cancer. I can’t get over the shock and irony of the gastric carcinoma diagnosis in my eight-year-old mixed-breed dog, not to mention a nonresectable tumour in a surgical oncologist’s dog. With so many friends in the field and so much expertise at hand, there are still no viable treatment options other than making you comfortable and letting you go.
We were lucky that we could euthanize you on the farm, on the hill where you loved to look out on the horses every day. Just Steve and I, euthanizing you and then laying you to rest forever under the trees. As we say goodbye to you after eight years of being the best dog we could ever have asked for, I hope you know that you were loved.
You were perfect.