The following letter was written on January 18th, 2011. I've needed this much time to reflect on my time with Trouble and my relationship with dogs before I was ready to share here. I will post photos and videos of our final weekend soon.
On Christmas Eve, Trouble came out of remission. The first signs of his not being in remission were thought to be a soft tissue or spinal injury by myself and 3 different vets. By January 9th, Trouble couldn't walk without a sling to support his back end. That evening, I found a lump in Troub's throat. The next day, Trouble had an MRI in Redwood City and saw his oncologist in Campbell. He resumed chemotherapy immediately.
Trouble had the use of his legs back just over 24 hours and was following us around the house pestering us. Over the next few days his strength and balance continued to improve and he was taking half mile walks with me and Marley. He kept his scheduled grooming appointment for Thursday and attended his Rally class with me in Fremont that evening. The only thing he couldn't do gracefully in class was his lovely drop-into-down, but he could lay down OK with encouragement. That weekend, Trouble and I attended the Rally competition that I had entered him in some weeks earlier. Trouble scored 99 out of 100 in both of his classes on Saturday, winning them both and eliciting compliments from classmates, spectators, and fellow competitors. On Sunday, Trouble scored 96 out of 100 for fourth place, earning his AKC novice title.
Unfortunately, Trouble's cancer wasn't responding to the chemotherapy this time. Not only were we not getting a remission, the cancer was coming back with a vengeance. On Tuesday morning, Trouble just wasn't his sparky self and he was coughing a bit. I made an appointment for him with his oncologist. Usually, I have pets put down at the house, but Trouble absolutely loved going to the oncologist and he would own the room the moment he entered the building.
Trouble had a big breakfast of warm turkey burger followed by a game of favorite toy fetching and wrestling with Marley. Within a hour, the tumor in this throat had roughly tripled in size. I was given such a gift of a time window - Trouble was alert and pretty much pain free, but it was only going to be hours before this wasn't the case.
At the oncologist office, they have a special room that is set up like a living room with carpet, nice chairs, a couch, and low (non fluorescent) lighting. Nurses and other vets came in to say goodbye. He did lots of waves, nose touches, lefts and rights, and leg crosses. He ate all 3 packs of madeleines that I bought for him that morning. He went with only one piece of madeleine remaining. Marley was by his side and he was petted and talked to by myself, my mom, Dr. Kiselow (his oncologist) and Aysha (his nurse) through the entire process. We were all crying (well, not Marley). Marley watched as Trouble passed. When I released her to investigate as she wished, she rushed to take care of Dr. Kiselow and give him kisses. Leave it to Marley to take care of us - she seemed to know Trouble was gone.
The house is quiet, but Marley is doing well and taking care of us a little more than usual and maybe needing to carry a big stuffed toy more that usual, too. I feel so fortunate to have had such a fantastic final weekend with Trouble, just the two of us. I'll send photos of his win after I purchase them from the photographer.
I'm so glad I got share my life with that fantastic, sweet dog. I'm so glad I got to share him with so many other people. Thank you for being part of Trouble's life.
I currently have two Australian Shepherds, with a third "on order." I love working with my dogs. I'm fortunate to get to bring my dogs to work where they take up floor space with a Cattle Dog, a German Shepherd, a Boxer/Shar Pei, and a Border Collie.