Tuesday, July 28, 2009

RIP Sara Puddles 9/30/95-7/28/09

This morning we had one of my octogenarian dogs, Sara, put to sleep. She had stopped eating for about a week, could not walk or move and was vomiting bile the last few days. I thought she might die overnight like our cat did when she stopped eating and drinking. But this morning Sara was still wagging her tail as she lay otherwise motionless on the grass under a tree. She had moved during the night from the patio to the grass and apparently had vomited half way there. Her breathing was very labored at the end and tears formed in her eyes. She looked at me very sadly. I believe the tears and "sadness" were due to the pain she must have been feeling. I refuse to entertain that she knew her end was near.

The vet told us immediately that it was likely the cancer had gotten into her lungs. Her heartbeat was weak as well as her breathing. We had decided on the way to the vet to end Sara's misery unless the vet identified a curable cause. When the vet said that it was unlikely Sara would last much longer even if they tested her and treated her, my husband, son and I agreed to let her go.

I could not stay in the room while the vet administered the injection. My son and husband decided to stay. My son was unequivocal. My husband decided to stay after my son decided. I went to the car to cry alone. My big strong men told me they both cried but Sara was very peaceful. One minute she was sniffing my son's hand and the next moment she was gone.

Sara was part of a miracle litter. Her mother, a pure bred Rottweiler, had been spayed but nevertheless went into heat and attracted a German Shepherd suitor who jumped the fence of her yard. There were 5 dogs in the litter. The owner was the mother of my son's middle school social studies teacher. We heard about the dogs and thought it would be nice for our other Shepherd mix, Chase, to have a companion. So we went to look at the litter and this lovely little pup climbed up on my lap. She wore a red collar and was named Sara, which is one of my favorite names. We waited for her to be weaned and took her home in mid November of 1995.

We quickly learned about the bias against Rotties. We needed to kennel the dogs during that first year and several places would not take a Rottweiler even as a puppy. The one that did take her said that they would not take her when she got bigger. Sara turned out to be a very gentle dog. However she was the not the easiest to house train. Hence we nicknamed her Puddles for obvious reasons. Eventually she was trained and learned some basic commands although nothing as fancy as what Chase learned. Sara could sit and come but never learned to roll over on command.

At some point we learned that Sara had a thing about toddlers and some children. She would bark and charge at them as if they were threatening the farm animals. Once she got out of the house and charged the toddler of the people subletting the house next door. Without warning us, they reported her (and us) to animal control. She did not hurt the child but scared him quite a bit. I hired a dog trainer to work with Sara but it did not do much. Sara was basically sweet but not the sharpest knife in the pack. Luckily she never did anything like charging a child again and indeed learned to love (and tolerate the pokings of) toddlers when my grandson came to live with us three years ago.

Sara and Chase went on hikes for a while together in the hills of Palos Verdes with a guy named Paul who had a dog hiking business. Sara tore her ACL in her knee on one of these hikes and had to have surgery. She never really could hike again with Chase and at that point we moved her into the house so that she would not get further hurt by running around in our yard with Chase.

In the past few years, Sara has been a wonderful companion to my mother in law who referred to Sara as an old lady. Sara has had cancer for a few years and was in some pain from time to time but continued to be a faithful companion up until the end.

Sara, you were a very good dog. I will miss you very much.

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