Saturday, November 9, 2013

One Blue Eye ... What?

Last May, we lost our dear Frankie.  She was an Australian Shepherd mix dog that had been a faithful member of our family for 16 years.  (See my post dated May 18 – RIP Frankie.) 

Naturally, Tyler started asking immediately when we would get a new puppy.  The thought of “replacing” Frankie was something I didn’t even want to consider.  But, I knew that the day would come.  I just didn’t know when.

Frankie was special in more ways than one.  But, one of her physical attributes that made her stand out was that she had one blue eye.  So, Pat wisely told Tyler that Mom wouldn’t want another dog unless we could find a female with one blue eye. We knew that would hold him off for a while.

Tyler continued to ask Pat all summer to start looking for a puppy with one blue eye.  A couple of months ago, Tyler started asking me when we were going to start looking for a puppy with one blue eye.  As the frequency of his question increased, I realized that the day was rapidly approaching when I would have to “give in” and say “ok” to getting a new puppy. 

We knew that we wanted to find another Australian Shepherd mix.  I started looking online and discovered that they were really hard to find.  The ones I did find, were extremely pricey and had to be shipped from another state – sight unseen.  I told our vet, Dr. Gary, to let us know if he ever became aware of an Australian Shepherd mix that we could adopt.  He told me that they were very hard to come by, and he advised me to just keep checking the SPCA website.

So, I began checking the SPCA website regularly.  There were lots of dogs to adopt – but not many puppies – and no Australian Shepherds.  I was getting discouraged.  But, yesterday, I checked the site and low and behold, a whole litter of Australian Shepherd mix puppies had just arrived.  There were 8 of them – 7 of them were female!  They were so new to the SPCA that they didn’t have any pictures of them for us to see. 

Still not sure if I was ready to add a new member to our family, I asked Pat if he wanted to go check them out – kind of like dipping my toe in the water.  When we arrived at the SPCA, we learned they had a policy of not letting you see more than 3 puppies in a visit.  It is their way of assuring germ control.  Without any pictures to go by, we were rather at a loss.  Six of the females were in the 10 lb. range.  But, the runt of the litter was a little over 5 lb.  So, we asked to see her.  The person that was helping us said, “well, you need to know that she has one blue eye.”  WHAT???  The manner in which she said that was as if it was a negative thing!  Pat and I just looked at each other and laughed.

So, they took us into this glass room and sat us down.  When they brought this one blue-eyed Australian Shepherd mix puppy into the room, she brought tears to my eyes.  It was love at first sight!  There really was no doubt that she would be going home with us that day.  

Meet our new family member - Sadie

Tyler was still in school when we brought Sadie home.  
We couldn’t wait to see his reaction.


Sadie likes to cuddle!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

R.I.P. Frankie

My heart is breaking because we just lost our beloved    4-legged family member, Frankie.  

When I was growing up, I never developed a relationship with a pet. We had lots of “outside” cats, but they never hung around for very long. So, I never could really understand the special bond that so many people had with their pets.

After the boys were born, Pat started working on me to prepare me that we needed to get a dog – “for the boys” he said. After many conversations and lots of convincing, I eventually gave in. Sixteen years ago, we took a trip to the animal shelter to see if we could find a dog that I would be willing to agree to. We hadn’t been there very long when I spotted the sweetest white and black dog – part Australian Shepherd – the other part a big question mark. 

The thing that captured my attention was that she had one blue eye.  The other one was partially blue and brown.  I was convinced she was the one. Right there, I said we should name her Frankie – after ol’ blue eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. And so began my relationship with a dog!

Pat trained her very quickly – we never had the annoying puppy phase that I had heard so much about. Frankie really became a family member, but more than anything, became Tyler’s “protector.” We think she could sense that Tyler was special and needed to be helped and watched more. Whenever Tyler went outside, she was right there by his side. No one would even think of messing with Tyler, because they would have had to go through Frankie.

That special relationship with Tyler continued – even when he didn’t need protecting anymore. When he was outside, she was always there. Frankie was always the family’s protector, too. Whenever Pat would go out of town, she became the one to watch over the rest of the family. She would pace the house at night, and when it was time to turn in, she wouldn’t take up her usual place in her bed. Instead, she would “camp out” on the stairs – in a spot where she had a good view of all of the doors into the house. She stayed there all night, making sure no one would hurt her family.

A few years ago, she was outside with Tyler when she spotted a rabbit. She started to take chase, but in so doing, ended up tearing her Achilles tendon. The surgery to repair this was something that we could not afford to do. We were so blessed when a very special friend paid for the surgery she needed. From that point on, she couldn’t move the same. Her leg was so stiff that she couldn't bend it and had to lay in a very awkward position. But she just kept right on going.

Then 2 years ago, we noticed a growth on her leg.       Dr. Gary diagnosed her with cancer. Again, our dear friend helped us get her the surgery she so desperately needed. There was no guarantee that it wouldn’t come back, but every thing was done that could be done.

After the cancer surgery, Frankie really began to slow down. But she still was our watchdog, making sure that no doorbell ever went unnoticed and that all strangers were very aware that she was the “protector.” (Her bark was definitely worse than her bite!) She still met us at the door with a wagging tail. She still went everywhere with Tyler.

But the slowing down really started to be obvious about 6 months ago. We noticed she didn’t seem to be hearing very well, her eyes were getting cloudy, and the pep in her step was almost gone. We finally realized at the end of last year that she had gone completely deaf and that she had also lost her bark. So, she stopped hearing the doorbell and stopped greeting us at the door, because she couldn’t hear when we arrived home.

Recently, Frankie started having trouble eating and breathing. When we took her in to see Dr. Gary, he told us that she had developed several tumors in her throat. That was probably one of the reasons that she lost her bark, too. He told us then that she probably didn’t have much longer to live. I was praying that things would happen naturally, because I just couldn’t bear the thought of making the choice to say “goodbye” to this trusted member of our family. But as time passed, things got so much worse. She began to really struggle with her breathing and was not able to do much more than sleep.

This afternoon, we made a very painful decision. Deaf, almost blind, barely able to walk or eat – we decided it was time.  This afternoon, when Dr. Gary examined her, he said that the tumors had spread throughout her body since he saw her a few weeks ago.  With all 4 of us around Frankie, Gary lovingly sent her on her way to Dog Heaven, where once again, she will be able to run, play, chase rabbits, and be young again.

Even though I know it was the right decision for Frankie, in my own selfish - human way, I wanted to keep her with us.  I will miss her more than I ever thought possible.  I can’t imagine that I will ever be able to love another animal in the same way, and honestly, don’t want to even give it a try. But, I know that eventually, we will need to do that for Tyler.

Today our family lost a very important member, and we are mourning her loss. 

R.I.P. Frankie! We love you so much!