His Name is Thunder

His name is Thunder and my boy is eleven years and a few months.  He, at one time, was very regal looking – both parents were yellow labs and his dad was 125 lbs.  Thunder was barrel chested, with muscular legs and just an all around strong looking dog.  His bark could scare anyone – a deep, throaty, husky “a-woooof!!” as he looks at you, his muscular frame seeming to say that he is, by all accounts, a dog of stature.  Now he is very frail, and you can count the amount of ribs sticking out.   I won’t pretend that Thunder is an overzealous guard dog or that he stalks small dogs for kicks.  Thunder is loyal, I’ll give him that, but he is timid, docile and is constantly fretting about something or other.  Everything makes him nervous and jumpy, like walking across the floor, going downstairs, if someone hollers while watching a hockey game on television, or a loud rain storm.  The dog shivers and shakes himself into a frenzy. 

Right now Thunder is lying on a warm dog bed in my bedroom. He’s got all of his favourite stuffies lying all around him, and every so often he gets up and stumbles around, looking confused.  Thunder has dementia…along with water on his lungs, hips that are giving out, and a lack of appetite.  My husband and I have been constantly monitoring him; we refuse to keep him here any longer than should be, as that would be selfish.  When his time comes to put him down, we will, and have known this all along.  We have taken him regularly to the vet to get assessed, to pick up new meds, and to let ourselves know that he will be with us for at least another short spell – he always is deemed okay when he is examined.

Thunder, in a matter of a week or two, has declined to such a degree that we know that keeping him alive is not an option.  He is no longer Thunder – in fact, he’s no longer a dog.  We have an appointment to take him in one final time to the vet’s office tomorrow.  We’re letting our little boy free, to remember where he is, and to no longer endure constant panting.  I told him earlier that we’re taking him to see his sister tomorrow and to get himself ready for a wonderful visit.

I’m crying as I write this.  He is my baby.  I’ve said it so many times before; the only bad thing about a dog is they don’t live long enough.  I wish I could help Thunder somehow, but it looks like the only help I can give him is to make him free from pain.  If there is a heaven, I know he’ll head there to meet up with his sister who passed on seven years ago and who he loved.  He’ll also meet up with other dogs that were a part of our family long before he became such a wonderful family member.  I’m hoping my Dad is there waiting for him, ready to take him for a long walk with no sore joints, and above all, a beautiful lake to swim in.  Thunder loved so much to swim. 

You were a true friend, Thunder.  You were part of many highs and lows in my life, and you loved me unconditionally.  Know that you are loved so much, that you have given us only beautiful memories, and that we will, one day, meet again.  I love you with all my heart, little guy.  Give the others a kiss for me and tell them they are remembered as well, and even after all of these years, the love I have for them (and now you) will never dissipate – somehow it only gets stronger.  I love you, my good boy.

A Lifetime Friend

They say that people come into your life for a reason, season or forever.  What about dogs?  Why do they come into your life?  Usually you are the one who knows that answer as you’re the one that purchased or adopted that furry bundle of joy.  Maybe you need some extra exercise, so walking a dog every day would accommodate that.  Maybe you’re concerned about safety – a guard dog would help alleviate your fears.  Maybe you just want to feel that feeling of unconditional love.  Take a deep look into those eyes and tell me you don’t feel an immediate tug at your heart.  You’re smitten, and so is your dog!

We bought my dog Thunder eleven years ago at a dog breeding facility close to home.  The day arrived when we were to pick up our new bundle of joy.  We had a dog reserved for us – a male, and we were given his litter number.  We arrived and were taken to the barn where both the boys and the girls were kept.  We were about to be introduced to our reserved pup when the telephone rang and the woman who worked at the kennel had to go and answer the call.  She said to take a look around and she’d be back in a minute.  I had my handbag on the ground and Thunder came scampering up and tried to run away with my purse! He was just a furry little bundle of yellow, no make that white fur.  Even though he is a yellow lab he really has a white tint to his fur.  I checked the tattoo in his ear – he wasn’t our reserved pup and my heart kind of sank a bit.  He definitely wanted to bond, and I was anxious for the kennel employee to end her phone conversation and return to us so we didn’t get any more attached to this beautiful dog.

“He ran away with my purse!”, I laughed, when the employee returned.  My husband came over and casually intervened.  “A cute little guy! Is he taken?” 

No, Thunder was not taken.  In fact no one had reserved him.  His sisters and his  brothers had all been reserved, but he somehow fell through the cracks.  “You can take him if you want him.”, advised the employee.  Right on queue, Thunder grabbed my purse and headed for the door and my life really has not been the same since.

Thunder is a sweetheart.  Saying he’s timid is an understatement.  He’s afraid of stairs, flooring, and changes in the surface of floors.  Sudden noises startle him, and the vet’s office petrifies him.  Naps are a hobby; any time of the day you can find Thunder sleeping peacefully on his couch.  In the computer room we have an old loveseat left over from years ago and we cover it with an old comforter.  That’s Thunder’s couch, and does he ever know it! And does he ever use it!

Thunder loves to cuddle and can sense my emotion with a quick sniff of his snout.  He’s been with me for eleven years now, through happy times, sad times, and now my cancer journey.  He is there for me.  Sadly, Thunder is getting on and having health issues of his own.  His hips give out a little on occasion.  He has water on his lungs that he takes medication for.  He pants and drools, and we notice he gets “lost” outside in our back yard, and have noticed other signs of dementia.  He’s in no pain, and absoluely loves his life with us, so for the time being, he’s still our Thunder.  I feel badly; the last year or so my patience hasn’t been the best with everything going on with my cancer, and he and his sister get a lot of my attention and love, but the patience just isn’t there as before, as much as I try.  And just when I’m too hard on myself, his eyes seek mine and a long gaze is held.  I see my furry little pup running through the barn with the strap of my handbag in his mouth, dragging it along the sawdust floor.  I couldn’t imagine my life without him, and as my arms open up wide for a hug we both look forward to, I know he thinks I have all the patience in the world for him and I do, I really do.  My aches and pains subside, the thoughts of my cancer’s progression are put on hold, and all I want to do is melt into my eleven year old puppy’s soft fur and have him give me reprieve from the everyday battles that life can sometimes offer.  And I know that everything is going to be just fine.