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anotherVegan
33 years old
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Florida
Born Oct-24-1986
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anotherVegan

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19 Apr 2012
Upon searching for some help, coping with the loss of my dog, I came across this site. After reading about how many wonderful companions have come and gone, I have to share the story of my wonderful dog, Redd.

I am 25 years old now. Redd was about fifteen years old when he passed. I've spent most of my life knowing that this long haired ball of love would be waiting for me when I came home, came up to me wanting pets, and despite being around 60 pounds or more, he believed he was a lap dog.

He originally came by my aunt's house as a skinny puppy, about 6-7 months old, with a tattered rope around his neck. He had run away from an abusive situation, and got some food and shelter at my aunt's home. She, however, had several dogs at the time, and didn't want to take another one in. So she brought him over to my house. We already had one dog, a sweet girl named Barbecue, so my dad wasn't sure about taking on another. However, this dog and Bar were instant best friends, so in a sense, he adopted us. In my family, our animals have always adopted us first. When you live out in the country, this can happen often.

Since he came from an abusive situation, my aunt and uncle were calling him Lucky. He was very lucky to find them, and very lucky to find us, and we were lucky to have him. I however, admired his unique red coat of fur, and I started calling him Redd. I added the extra D on there to make him unique. Eventually, the name stuck harder than Lucky. This was around late 1997.

Redd was one of the most playful and sweetest dogs ever - he wouldn't harm anyone. Hardly ever growled and/or barked. He would play rough, many a time I would have dirty clothes and scratched up arms from wrestling with my Wondermutt (one of the many nicknames he earned over the years). He would come up to you and lay his head on your lap wanting pets, but if you stopped, he would paw at you until you resumed. If he got too excited, you would suddenly find a dog in your lap. He would work hard to kill bumblebees that were flying in my garden - he would bite them once, and then paw at them until they stopped moving, and then eat them. It was quite humorous, and a lot of work for a little snack.

I had him for several years, I grew up having this dog by my side. In 2003, they both had a bad case of heartworms, and Redd pushed through the treatment, but Bar did not live through it. My mother passed away in 2004 to cancer, which appears to be something of a curse in my family. I graduated high school in 2005 and moved on to college. Redd stayed behind and lived with my dad. I visited just about every weekend, as I was only an hour away from home, and he was always happy to see me. My dad fell ill in 2007, and, unfortunately passed away. After then, I took Redd and brought him with me to my home.

He stayed and lived with us since, we even adopted a sweet black lab mix, Bella, and they became best friends. Once again, Redd had a smaller playmate, and they wrestled, groomed each other. It seemed odd to see the senior Redd wrestle with the much younger and smaller Bella, but it was a site to behold.

Redd lived out his senior years as a spoiled city dog. I originally thought he would have trouble adjusting from free-range country life to a mostly indoor life, but he loved every minute of it. He had his boy back, and so did I.

Starting with this year, I noticed Redd was slowing down quite a bit. I chalked it up as his old age - he was nearly 15 years old and not as energetic as before. But come February, he became reluctant to eat, and was drinking a lot. Up until this point in his life, every vet he ever visited was impressed by his high amount of energy, and his level of health, despite being a senior dog. Bella, and the rest of his family, kept him young. One vet told me the average life span of a large size dog is ten years. Around the beginning of March, we took him to the vet asking about his appetite. After a physical exam and ultrasound, he had advanced cancer growth in his liver, and that loss of appetite was the first of many symptoms to come. This was a silent killer that was hard to catch, and didn't show any symptoms until it was too late. His prognosis that he would be lucky to live a month longer. He also had a CCL tear in his hind leg, attributing to his slowness. Even though he seemed to get around fine. Both were inoperable, because of the advanced stage of the cancer, and the age of Redd. A this moment, I lost it.

We tried every medicine the doc prescribed for him to stimulate his hunger and liver function. He ate on occasion, but stopped liking his dog food. He sometimes liked sliced tofurky (I'm a vegetarian), pasta, other human foods, and he liked fish-based cat food. I was just happy when he ate, but it wasn't often. The last month and a half was the longest in my life. Keeping up with his meds, buying him meat for him to try, just being overjoyed whenever he wanted to eat. Eventually, he just stopped eating altogether, and I had to force his medicine down. I tried force feeding him food, but that didn't take at all, and I felt rotten doing it, so that stopped. I read that breastmilk can help fight cancer, so my wife was nursing my son and pumping breastmilk for Redd at night, which I also had to feed to him via syringe.

We did take him outdoors often, to the park, on longer walks. Eventually the walks got shorter, as he would make it to the grass, and then lie down from exhaustion. He did have one of his last hurrahs on his own. He limped his way to my front porch on a sunny day. Figuring he just wanted to lay in the sun, I let him. I went back inside to resume cleaning house. Next thing I know, he's walked off. A few minutes later, he came back on his own, laid down by the door. When I went back to get him, there was a dead bumblebee next to him. The only way that bee died was by Redd's paw.

Last week, with his appetite gone, and him hardly moving, he tried walking down my stairs. Despite him having limited mobility, he usually had no trouble going down stairs, since he went slowly. He stumbled down the last two steps, didn't make any noise indicating pain, but may have injured his leg further. After hardly moving at all, he couldn't get up, barely drank, didn't eat, despite my best efforts. Bella groomed him regularly, and I gave him baths during this time. During this time he lost a ton of weight, he couldn't stand on his own, and his breathing was very labor-intensive.

I took him in to the vet on Monday, the 16th, to have him looked at. The vet said he was past the point of no return, but she was glad that Redd was not vomiting bile profusely or having seizures, both of which can happen when the liver completely fails. Not wishing that horrific fate on Redd, she recommended that we said goodbye. She said that Redd had a great run at life, and that we should remember the good times, keeping in mind the average span of a large dog is ten years. We had him put down that morning, and we were all there petting him, and letting him know that he was loved. He knew. And we knew he loved us right back.

We were so happy to provide him such a loving home, and we are grateful that such a wonderful dog was in our lives. He always got compliments on his unique coat, and even vets couldn't pinpoint his breed. My best guess was a Golden Retriever and German Shepherd mix. But I've heard guesses of Chow, Australian Shepherd, among others. I just felt like the last bit of my home life had been gone. For the longest time, since Redd had always been so healthy, he would live forever. (I had a 19 year old cat at one point.) I find myself remembering the good days, and keeping in mind that Redd wasn't the same Redd that I knew and loved in his last days. He was a shadow of his former self, and now he is in a better place: relaxing with Bar, my parents, and my past animals that I have loved and lost over the years. But no animal loss has hurt so much. I hadn't lost anyone in a long time, and Redd was such a staple in my life growing up. This was also the first time I personally witnessed euthanasia. I personally felt him stop breathing, and his heart stop beating. It was one of the hardest days of my life. I had him the longest of any of my dogs. I had him growing up. There's a picture of him and my dad on my wall that is one of my favorite pictures ever (I may scan it if I can get my scanner working). The last bit of my hometown legacy was gone, and my family lost our oldest child.

I miss him dearly, but I know I saved him from a much harsher fate, and he is in such a better place now. It just still hurts a lot.

Attached is a picture. The day he was diagnosed, I took him to the park, and let him walk around, free-reign. This pic was him enjoying the breeze. And if you have a guess at his breed, feel free.
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24 Oct 2012 - 18:57

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