January 27, 2011

Bubba (featuring guest blogger T)

This is Guest Blogger T. Shannon’s T, not just a random T. First off, all apologies for the length of this post, but I feel no need to be concise. I should also apologize for the grammatical errors that are sure to occur. I am far from the writer my wife is. I am clueless as how to add pics, so S might do it in edit. Nothing groundbreaking or awe-inspiring will be said here. This is just the story I want to tell.

(For all non-dog lovers please go elsewhere, what are you communists? Click on the next blogger, I’m sure their drab introspections on life are a hoot.)


Doggies

In 1997 I lucked out in the dog lottery with the greatest dog that ever lived, Hobbes, a brindle boxer. Yes, he was the greatest dog that ever lived and your dog does not compare. I have never even met your dog and I know that to be a fact. You’re, of course, arguing with me, “No, Sir Barks-a-lot was the greatest dog ever,” “No, P. Doggy could run circles around your dog,” “Well Kim Kardaschund is the bestest ever." You’re all wrong. My dog, not yours.

Hobbes-y


Obviously, I’m joking a little (no I am not at all). My point is you had better be arguing with me. Of course, our own dogs are the greatest ever and we’ll all defend them. Hobbes was the greatest joy in my life. (Besides Shannon.) I could legitimately write scores of chapters on Hobbes, but that’s not my point for this story. Just know that Hobbes was my dog and the thought of ever replacing (I hate the use of that word in this case) him was not happening. When he passed away, we still had Murray, another brindle boxer, decidedly Shannon’s dog. Murray was extremely sad. Hobbes was his world, his big brother, playmate, protector, best friend.

Hobbes and Baby Murray


But, after some cajoling we decided to get another dog; this was to be “my” dog.

We were definitely set on getting another boxer, no other would suffice, love boxers. We showed up to a house with boxer puppies. First off, whoa lady, clean up some, your house is not intended for the sole use of a doggy outhouse. Seriously, 17 dogs lived in the house, NONE were house trained. The stench and her two teeth aside, one cute little boxer was hiding behind a couch and wanted nothing to do with his then-brothers and the other madness going on this house. That’s my dog, right there. He wants out as badly as I do. OK, so he’s covered with fleas, has a HORRENDOUS cough, he’s a fawn not a brindle, seems to be shy and doesn’t have that boxer spazzy hyperness that I love. This was “my” new dog. He was born on Dec. 17, 2004, was now 6 weeks old, and was going to be named Bubba. Bubba Ray to be precise, a nod to my hillbilly upbringing and since Shannon would never allow me to name my firstborn that, he would have to do.

We brought him home that day, after a quick stop at our friends' work to show him off. (They had asked us, oh, about 3 hours earlier if we ever thought about getting another dog. I guess we’re impulsive. Ooh, shiny.) Yes, indeed, the cajoling I referred to was just one of our friends asking if we had ever thought about it. (I dare you to walk into a room full of puppies with money in your pocket and not walk out with a new best friend.) Anyway, just like that we have a new addition to our humble home, Bubba. We get Bubba home and introduce him to Murray. Cue the string quartet. (HEY SHANNON!! Here would be appropriate place for the pic of baby Bubba and Murray meeting) :


Love at first sight does exist. Now if Shannon puts up the pic I’m thinking of, it doesn’t look like love. It looks like we’ve invested in a Devil dog. Bubba told Murray, “You might outweigh me by 80 pounds, but your ankles are in striking distance, Charge!!” Later on that day:


With our assistance Bubba got up on our couch and immediately went and laid down on Murray. A scene that has repeated EVERY day for 6 years. Buddies. It was readily apparent we had made the proper decision, the fleas went away, the cough left, the worry of 17 other dogs running over him passed. Another overwhelmingly obvious fact was Bubba was not “my” dog, he was Murray’s dog.

Dear readers, please forgive me, as I have never read this blog before, but I am sure that Shannon has frequently put up pics of their “companionship,” well Shannon, put the one where they’re spooning. And, no, we did not pose them for this pic.


We did, however, pose Bubba for this pic:


Hopefully, the previous pics illustrate how close they were. They never slept apart, always one on the other, and 9 out of 10 times it was Bubba on Murray. Let’s face it, Murray can handle it, he’s svelte. (Svelte means fat, right?) Point is, they have never been apart for 6 years.

We were lucky enough to be able to move to the country shortly after pairing the two and they went crazy. Acres to run around on and play with each other. Anyone that knows boxers know the 10-minute-long “run”: Run as fast as you possibly can in the most possibly random directions ever, stop, then repeat. This was also done inside of our house. This was Bubba’s favorite pastime. That and to attack Murray’s ankles, never got old. They loved to chase the random bird, curse the stray cat, find out what a snake is together, run away from butterflies (yes they did that), get lost in snow drifts that are taller than them, play “King of the Deck,” and of course their favorite, catch the bunny rabbit. Happiness.

Bubba was the quintessential happy dog. Never met a dog or person that he didn’t like and in return didn’t like him. Bubba was gentle versus Murray’s brute strength. Bubba had a clipped tail that we lovingly call his ‘nubbin. Wagged the live long day. It only stopped when he slept and even sometimes when dreaming it kept going. And Bubba loved to sing. Engage him with a staring contest and he would sing to you and break your concentration. He always won, cheater. Leave the house for 5 minutes and you were greeted the same as if you were gone for days. Have a bad day? He knew and you should be prepared for an hour of kisses. Have a lap? He’s in it. Hide Shannon in an unknown room with a blanket over her, he’s your man to find her. (Most times.) Put him in funny poses with different clothes and accessories, and he’s patient enough to indulge you. Bliss.

On June 12th, 2010 Bubba was diagnosed with Lymphoma, cancer. F**k! What do we do? What are the options? Chemo? Medicate? What do we do? He’s only 5, this can’t be. How did it happen? How long do we have? What will he go through? Will he understand what’s happening? What’s best for him? What’s the vet’s advice? Who does the procedures? What will it cost? What do we need to do? If we do this how long does he have? What are the success rates? Will he suffer? How will we know when its time? Do we want to put him through that? Will this hurt him? What should we feed him? These are the scores of questions that came up.

Unfortunately, our normal vet was out of town when we took Bubba in for diagnosis, and the new vet started him on steroids and antibiotics. We did not realize at the time, but if you were to consider chemotherapy for your dog do not start them on that course of treatment. The success rates are exponentially decreased if they’re started on steroids and antibiotics before chemo. This made our decision easier, along with our vet's eventual advice of not going through chemo. We were given 2-3 months with the steroid/antibiotic treatment; the vet said he’s seen it last 6 months, max.

Day one of treatment and every subsequent day we started out with meds and my telling Bubba, "We’re fighting this, you and me. We’re not giving up. I’m not letting go and neither are you." Day one was June 12th, and with an unlikely prognosis of 6 months at best we set our sights on Dec. 17, Bubba’s 6th birthday. That’s the goal. 6 months and 5 days away, no problem we can do it.

Bubba’s first surgery, our first hope: With lymphoma there are different types, one being beatable and one not, or it possibly could be lyme’s disease. To find out the type Bubba needed to have a lymph node removed from one of his legs. We did it. Took a week to determine. Fingers crossed, prayers flying. The scar was huge and ultimately the hair never grew back. Type was not beatable, back to the fight.

Several weeks later we were dogsitting for one of our neighbor’s dogs that happened to have fleas. Now Bubba has fleas. Apparently, Bubba is very allergic to flea bites and received a “hot spot” right on his ‘nubbin. (A hot spot is when green ooze flows out a dog’s skin. Not a pretty sight. Imagine his tail sneezing while battling a sinus infection.) Anyway, we had to scrub harshly with Dawn and a dish towel, which removed all the hair from the ‘nubbin. Again, the hair never grew back. Gave him a pill to kill off the fleas. Back to the fight.

Aug. 12th: 2 months, done. Sept. 12th: 3 months, toodles. The initial 2-3 month timeline laid to the wayside. Good appetite, good nature. Bald ‘nubbin wagging at full force. Beginning of December. Fight, fight, fight. Dec. 17th, still standing! Happy Birthday!! Bil-Jac and Frosty Paws all around. OK, let’s get to Christmas: Got it. We can make it to the New Year: Passed it. Bear with me here, Elvis’s Birthday, you can do it. MLK day, no problem. Groundhog day’s next, c’mon Punxsutawney Bubba.

Bubba became very sick this past weekend. The appetite left, the ‘nubbin slowed, movement was gone and so on and so forth. It wasn’t a struggle to make the ultimate decision. We love Bubba very much and knew it was time. We were prepared, but not ready. I didn’t want it to have to come to this, but here we are. My fight chant went from "fight, fight, fight" to "you don’t have to fight anymore." "Never give up" was replaced with "it’s ok to let go." Bubba was much more the fighter than me. I attribute that to his not wanting to leave his momma, Shannon. Not wanting to leave Murray alone one more time. Not wanting to see me sad.

Bubba lost his fight today, Jan. 26th, 2011. He made it 7 months and 14 days, when he was given 2-3 months. We showed ‘em. It wasn’t enough. I wanted more. Years. Having said that, I’m thankful for every extra day that we somehow stole. Not one of them was taken for granted.

In 2004 when we lost Hobbes my mother asked our preacher a childlike question, “Do dogs go to Heaven?” He answered, and I believe rightly so (paraphrasing), “No, dogs don’t have souls and therefore don’t go to Heaven.” I believe his answer is correct and who am I to judge its accuracy. But will I be spending my night dreaming that Hobbes and Bubba finally meet in Heaven and play all day long? You’re damn right. I will dream that sweet dream every night. Right or wrong the thought of them being together is a beautiful thought and makes the pain all that much more bearable.

Bubba’s ‘nubbin. Now throughout this “ordeal,” Bubba did slow down: no more running, no more attacking Murray’s ankles, no jumping on your lap. That part of Bubba was gone. But the ‘nubbin remained the same. If the ‘nubbin was the measuring stick, Bubba was healthy as a horse (save the last few days). Today’s trip to the doctor I had to carry Bubba in. When I sat Bubba down and the doctor came in, it was classic Bubba, ‘nubbin flying saying “Hello friend!” When we said our good-byes, my boy let me know everything was ok with a little ‘nubbin wag.

My prayers at the beginning of this were for spontaneous remission. It’s happened before so why not for Bubba? It didn’t happen and my prayer tonight will be a simple one.

Bubba, you fought well. You did so good. I’m so very proud of you. I hope we did good by you. I miss you. I will never forget you. I love you.

Good Boy.

11 backtalk:

Summer said...

This is absolutely beautiful. T, you did well, T and S. . . I am so so so very sorry for your loss. I can't say it enough.

I am sending all of you big hugs.

Thank you, T, for sharing so beautifully.

Trophy Life said...

T - this was perfect.

i am hoping no one comes into my office now since i am crying like a baby.

being a dog person, my heart hurts for you. i have thought of the 4 of you every day since this journey started and prayed that he would just miraculously heal but that, if he didn't, the time would come and you would be able to move forward and do what is best for Bubba.

i send my hugs to you, my friends. i know how important Bubba will always be to you.

love you.

the grumbles said...

oh, tears.

nice work telling his story.

as Shannon knows, we have a very sick dog of our own. facing down the inevitable hurts me inside.

but they are so, so loved.

Kendra said...

T, thank you so much for contributing your story. I have been thinking of the four of you, too, since Shannon made the announcement, and also hoped for a miracle.

Love and hugs to the three of you as you continue to grieve the loss of Bubba.

Kendra

Mickey D. said...

So very well written. This was just lovely.

I love that he defied the odds and toughed it out for 7+ months. He wanted to spend as much time with the three of you as you did with him.

He sounds like a great dog.

SnappyTulip said...

My heart hurts for you at this moment.

Nadja said...

This was such a wonderful tribute. I'm tearing up and feeling your pain as we also lost a dog to cancer. It's just so hard to have to let go.

I'm sorry guys.

Iris Took said...

:(

My condolences for your loss.

wrestling kitties said...

This was such a lovely and heart felt post.

I am so sorry for your loss and even though he left sooner than he should have, I am glad that you did have such a special friend in your life.

Ky • twopretzels.com said...

I want the both of you to know that I read this this morning and cried rivers for you.

First off, T - what a touching, revealing, kind-hearted and sweet tribute to your sweet pooch.

Secondly, thank you for sharing your life experience in a not-so-easy public way.

Finally, oy. Oy, oy, oy. I know what it's like to walk in your shoes...

Please know that you're so supported.

And I hope that Bubba and Hobbes are up in heaven greeting my Nattie. I feel that the three of them would get along swimmingly; they could snort and sleep and cuddle all the day.

Much love,
ky

Written Permission said...

From T: I just want to thank everyone for your comments, thoughts and prayers for us the last week. Writing about this was very cathartic. Thank you for reading and thinking of us.

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