Written Saturday, December 27, 2008
Today, I said good-bye to one of my canine friends, the one that started me working with rescue, the one who came into my life and stole my heart.
I had not wanted a dog. My oldest did. He wanted a basset. I told him if he could find a rescue within an hour’s drive, we’d get one. He found on in town. That was 5 years ago this past August.
We applied and Charlotte came for a visit. Her only true basset feature was her feet. Her ears were a little short, her face was shaped a bit wrong…..But she was wonderful and I fell in love with her and her alpha attitude.
In September, we adopted her. In October, we were asked to temporarily foster a dog with fear issues. That was before Scott and I married and he came over every day to work with Baxter and spend time with Charlotte. Baxter stayed and we became foster failures for the first time. When Scott and I married in November, we started fostering.
For 3 years, we opened our hearts to basset hounds who needed love, a place to stay, some manners, some patience, housetraining, belly rubs and ear treatments. Some became a part of our souls. Others, we were glad when they found a place with people who could appreciate their “uniqueness.”
Through it all, Charlotte was there. She loved each one, with a mother’s touch we never truly understood. She dished out discipline with an iron glove and gave comfort with a velvet hug. She was our pack leader, keeping us in line as well as the pack.
Yesterday, we noticed that she wasn’t using her back left leg. She didn’t even go to see an old friend who came to visit. Never left her bed. We made her an appointment this morning, Scott being a positive as possible, me being a realist and knowing this was the end. But I knew his positiveness was falling apart when he opted not to put a leash on her. My first sign he knew the truth.
She looked so tired. He carried her in, and the dog who hates vets and runs to the door to leave as soon as you take her in sat on the rug I had taken for her and never moved except to snuggle close as she shook.
Our vet took little time in telling us that she had some spinal damage and would not regain use of the leg. We could try steroids, but the outlook was not good. She was very sweet and cried with us as we made the choice. We talked to Charlotte and she looked at us as if she knew and understood. As if she were ready to go.
She gave her “daddy” one last kiss, then within seconds, it was over. She never struggled, never whimpered. Always the alpha dog, it was if she just too tired to keep it up any more, relieved to give up her role.
Our decision was to have her cremated. Part of her ashes will go back to her other mother, the rescue director, whom she always loved. The rest will be placed here, under a marker with her name in the puppy run so she’ll be with the others.
My house is oddly quiet. Of our 3 remaining dogs, Baxter, Charlotte’s constant companion and the one who seemed to be training lately to take over her job as alpha, has gone with Scott to Pennsylvania to visit family. We thought that would be easier for him than being here without Scott, who had been planning this trip for weeks, as well as without Charlotte, who has been with him since before they came to live with us. Just Christie, the Pikeville puppy mill basset, and Sadie Grace, the mix breed, are here. They seem a little lost, but will probably be better in a day or two.
I know we did the right thing, but my heart aches right now. Charlotte was my baby. She always knew that she was mine and Baxter belonged to Scott. She was difficult, stubborn, and a true basset personality with all of the ins and outs that come with it. I miss her so much.
Five years was much too short a time, but I know that we gave her a life as she had known somewhere in her past. Somewhere, she has a mommy who missed her for a long time. You see, we’re pretty sure she was grabbed by someone who didn’t know she was spayed until after they had her. Then, they just dumped her and she ended up in a shelter. Her life with us was like coming home again. But she never forgot that other home.
For a time after she came to live with us, she’d take off every chance she had to go “home.” In time, she understood that we loved her and settled down. Still, there were vehicles she searched for familiar faces. Green vans with ladies who had short blond hair and glasses made her ears perk up. White trucks made her shake and bark. Not any more…all that is behind her now. So is the pain. As much as I hurt, for that, I’m grateful.
Rest well, my angel. ‘Til we meet again.
Forever Charlotte’s Mom,
UPDATED Sunday, October 18
As of now, Charlotte’s ashes are still here with me in the puppy room. I haven’t been able to let them go. Moving this from the Basset Rescue site where it was posted, editing it again to fix some errors, just made it hurt all over again. Even though Stormy, a shar-pei/lab mix in desperate need of a home, came in January, nothing could ever take Charlotte’s spot in our lives or our hearts. I still hear a bark in the puppy room and could swear it’s her.
I still miss you, Char. Still know we did the right thing…but I’d give anything to watch you completely ignore your dad and come running straight to me when I call. You’re still the only dog we’ve ever had that minded me and turned your nose up at him.
Sending you a big kiss ~