I met a Bouvier des Flandres last night.

This is Jasper. He’s a Bouvier des Flandres and he was chilling on the E train, calm as ever. His owner told me he weighs 120 pounds and is a service dog, which is why a crowded train did not bother him in the least.

About the breed via Your Pure Bred Puppy:

The Bouvier des Flandres is sober and thoughtful, rather than light-hearted or whimsical.
The AKC Standard calls him “equable, steady, resolute, and rugged.”
Though they can be athletic and agile, Bouviers are often a bit lazy unless deliberately taken out and encouraged to move. Brisk walks are a must to keep them in hard condition.
Mental stimulation in the form of advanced obedience, agility, tracking, herding, carting, or Schutzhund is even more important to this highly intelligent breed.
Though he is not overly demonstrative — he shows his loyalty in deeper, more subtle ways — the Bouvier des Flandres must live indoors and close to his family, his “flock.” When his needs are met, he is laid-back and serene.
Matching his stern appearance, he is often aloof with strangers and assertive when challenged. His air of calm appraisal can be intimidating, and he may use his big body to control people, rather than biting. Socialization must be early and frequent so that he learns to discriminate between friend and foe.
Most Bouvers des Flandres are dominant with other dogs, especially of the same sex, and those with a high prey drive are not reliable with cats and other creatures that run or flutter.
He may poke or nudge people and other animals in an attempt to gather them or move them along.
Make no mistake about it, the Bouvier des Flandres can be a pushy, strong-willed dog who requires a confident owner, especially during the challenging adolescent period. This is not a breed for first-time or passive owners.

 

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I saw my dog in a dream last night…

I had to put my dog down last month and, though I have absolutely no qualms about putting an end to his suffering, it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to experience. Seeing him forced to sleep, and then knowing the second injection would end his life.

I miss him so much.

Skunky on his last week alive. :(
Skunky on his last week alive. ūüė¶

Last night, I dreamt I was in a large, hospital-like building, and Skunky was walking towards me, slowly. He was so thin. He wasn’t having breathing problems like he did on his last weekend alive, but he was malnourished.

In my dream, the drug used to end his life didn’t work, and he awoke, and was looking for me to feed him. I was tortured in this dream, crying, repeatedly pushing on an elevator button so I could take him back to the vet (in my dream, he was on another floor in the same building) to have him put back to sleep. So, I dreamt I was trying to have him euthanized — again!

What does it mean? Here are a couple of interpretations I found online:

From the Times of India: If you see your pet suffer in it along with yourself, and wake up with a sense of loss, it’s most definitely a negative dream that is indicative of a burdened subconscious. Adds Sheesham, “It is important to let go off the emotion; by clinging to it you are only nurturing negativity.”

When the emotions are extremely deep-rooted, we may try to seek solace in our dreams and eagerly await one in which we can be together with our pet. But do such unions in dreams have a bearing on our real lives? Elaborates psychologist Dr Kamal Khurana, “Death of a pet is an emotional break off, and it’s our mind’s way of grasping the events by trying to complete that thought in semi-sleep state. But if such dreams have a disastrous effect on you to the extent of hampering your social life, it’s time you corrected it.”

From Dreaming the Dreams: If the dog is dead or dying in dream, then it symbolizes a loss of a good friend.

And from a random message board on ParanormalSoup.com:¬†I agree that it may either be a visitation (using dreams as a medium for cummincation) or your heart’s way of reassuring you that you did the right thing and that your puppy is at peace and still loves you as much as she ever did. ¬†

My dog is dying.

Screen shot 2015-08-10 at 6.36.32 PM
Skunky & I went on a long, 2.5 hour walk the other day. Yes, I brought water with us. He’s not the quick walker he once was, but I think he enjoyed walking along the Hudson River from the other side. Some of his best years were spent walking along the Hudson from the Washington Heights/Harlem side.

My dog is ill. He is dying, and I think it might be time to let him go.

Last month, when I found out the tumor on the roof of Skunky’s mouth was malignant (with hemangiosarcoma, a cancer that most often affects dogs), I felt numb to the news, in part, because, aside from being a little less active (he is 14, after all), he seemed fine. He was still eating normally and happy as ever to get out of the house and go for a walk.

The vet, who told me he would advise his own mother against putting the dog through chemo, radiation, or cryosurgery, told me to spoil him rotten, make him comfortable, and to monitor his quality of life as I’d know when it was time to let him go.

As a kid, if a horse or dog had to be put down in a book I was reading or a movie I watched, I never understood it. Why couldn’t the doctor patch them up?

But in the vet’s office that day, I recalled a time when¬†I took Skunky¬†to Inwood Hill Park when we lived in northern Manhattan some years ago. It was late fall, an absolute beautiful time in that park, and during our walk, we passed by a man wheeling his German Shepherd-mix¬†around the trail on a dolly as, presumably, his elderly dog could no longer walk. That was no life for the animal, I thought to myself. That’s selfish. That’s keeping the dog around for the owner, and I won’t ever do that, I thought.

And now, I find myself at that fork in the road. Yesterday, one side of his snout began to swell. Again, he is still eating and will go on a walk, but the swelling looks pretty bad. And he knows that I know something is up. When I look at him, or pet him gently, he starts to wag and gives me that look of shame he so often gave me as a pup if he thought he did something wrong.

I think it’s time to have him put to sleep. I know I will miss how he greets me when I get in. I will miss his extreme loyalty that ensures he never leaves my side. He’s part of the family, and that’s why my mom, brother, brother’s girlfriend, and the other pet living in the house (a shorkie!), don’t seem quite ready for him to go. ¬†(This is partly why I feel guilty about having to make this decision.)

I spoke with a colleague¬†about this a few weeks ago, as he worked at a veterinary¬†technician¬†many years ago, and he said, more often than not, owners wait too long. It’s not like a pet can tell us if they’re really suffering, right? He assured me the dog wouldn’t feel a thing when being euthanized. That gave me some comfort.

But it’s still tough.

You see, this is happening at a time when my own father is nearing the end of his life. A¬†very strong man who never had any health problems aside from his Parkinson’s disease, he’s been living in a nursing home for the past seven months. My father is not suffering, per se, but I wouldn’t say he has a great quality of life.

He is incontinent. His limbs are contracting. He is fed through a peg tube. He relies on nurse’s aides to reposition him every two hours. His ability to speak is pretty much gone. He does attempt to let us know when he is in pain. Sometimes, it’s not that, but it’s tough to understand what he is trying to tell us.

The best we can all do is make sure he’s as comfortable as possible. I thank the staff at the nursing home for doing that as best they can.

In many ways, it feels like he is already gone. I always loved talking to my father (he’s a very jovial and funny man) and I haven’t been able to do that in a long while. But, he’s not gone, and this is why 2015 has been a limbo year for me. I am constantly waiting for a shoe to drop. I cannot, I will not, enjoy myself. Being social is the last thing on my mind because it doesn’t feel right.

I control that, and I know I can make a better effort to “live my life” while my dad is at the nursing home, and while Skunky lives his last doggie days. But right now, I can’t seem to find my footing.