As regular readers of my blog know, one of my dogs is Zeus, a half Sheppard, half American Eskimo. He looks like a German Sheppard puppy, just with a curved tail.
That is Zeus shortly after I adopted him, the picture was taken sometime in October of 2006, I would guess. I wish I had geo-tagged my pictures back then, did they even have that though?
Zeus came to live with me when I was living in an apartment in the west end of St. Catharines. I adopted him from the Welland Humane Society and I remember when I filled in the application form that they would deny me because I lived in an apartment. They didn’t, thankfully and I took Zeus home August 3, 2006.
Living in an apartment wasn’t ideal. He didn’t know me and didn’t know what surroundings he was in. The building super reported that Zeus barked most of the day. Who knows how exaggerated that was. He has always been a pretty quiet dog.
At that time that we lived in the apartment, I also owned a trailer in Dunnville, Ontario. That summer, as I remember it, was hot and humid. Zeus would accompany me to baseball games and then when we got home, if it was too hot (I didn’t have AC), we’d drive out to Dunnville and sleep in the AC comfort of my trailer.
In late August or September of 2006, I decided that apartment life wasn’t ideal for a dog. I couldn’t just let him out, not that I minded. I found a house for rent through work and went to take a look at it. They had no problem with a medium sized dog, so I jumped at renting the house. It was on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines, across from Midtown Plaza.
Zeus and I moved in and lived there for almost 5 years. I am not sure why I moved out, but I did, we did. We moved a few blocks away into a very nice place with a bachelor suite in the basement. I rented that out to help pay for the rent of the whole place.
Shortly after moving in, in a, perhaps, moment of weakness, I got Zeus a friend, Blondie:
That is Blondie on day 2, about 15 pounds of her.
Zeus did meet Blondie before I got her, I wanted to make sure he didn’t “hate her at first site”. Zeus didn’t really care for other dogs much but he tended to be OK with “blonde” coloured dogs. Prejudice perhaps, not sure.
Anyway, when I brought Blondie into the house, if Zeus could have spoken, I am sure he would have asked “who is this and what is SHE doing in my house?”. Blondie loved Zeus at first site. It took Zeus MUCH longer to warm up to Blondie. I am not sure if he ever actually loved her, not the way she worshiped the ground he walked on, but he did accept her into the house and I think, although he might have denied it, quite liked her.
Shortly after we moved into the new place and I took on a new responsibility in having a second dog, I left my job of 10 1/2 years. After a few months of looking, I was unable to find a job and my money was running out. I was afraid that I wouldn’t have somewhere to live, never mind providing for two dogs, one rapidly growing.
No fear, just before I did run out of money, and a place to live (I had already given notice to move out), I got a new job. The only issue, and not really an issue for me, was that it was in Calgary, Alberta.
Before I made the move, I had a moving sale. One person that I used to work with asked me “are you taking the dogs with you?”. I answered of course and she asked, “why, you could get NEW dogs when you get there” …
New dogs? What about my existing dogs? I asked if she had ever had a dog – no, of course not, she doesn’t like dogs – figures…
So, Zeus, Blondie and I (and my sister who went along on our “vacation west”) got into my Jeep with a trailer in tow (with all my worldly possessions) and we set course West, for Calgary.
Zeus changed when we went West, for the better. In Ontario, I couldn’t take Zeus to the dog park because he would be overly aggressive with the other dogs. In Calgary, Zeus loved going to the dog park. He didn’t really play with the other dogs, but he wasn’t aggressive, at all. I credit most of his change to living with a happy, go-lucky Yellow Lab named Blondie. Blondie taught him tolerance, perhaps, and unlimited love. I really think she helped him become a better dog.
Zeus might have resented her a bit though. Before Blondie, Zeus got ALL of the attention. After Blondie, he had to share the attention with an attention hog. I was always careful to ensure that Zeus got plenty of attention and he would always be fed first, get the first biscuit, choice of where to lay on the couch, where to sleep. He was the top dog and I made sure Blondie knew that and she seemed to accept her position as second dog very well. In four years, they never, not once had a run-in with each other. Blondie was a good little sister and Zeus was a good big brother. I guess because Blondie was half Zeus’ size when they met, he always figured he was the big dog and she was the goofy puppy.
Over the next three years, all in Alberta, the 3 of us had some adventures. I had a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and joined an off-road club. Zeus and Blondie would join me and would either ride in the Jeep or run along-side, in front, behind, all over the place. They seemed to love it as much as I did.
We ventured into the various dog parks around Calgary and there are LOTS of them. One time, shortly after we arrived here, we went for a walk in Nosehill Park. I didn’t realize how big Nosehill was and we walked around the perimeter and it took us nearly 4 hours. I thought that Zeus was going to collapse, but it was Blondie who was actually the more tired one. When we got back to the Jeep, they both fell asleep instantly. We all napped for a few hours that Saturday and both dogs slept most of the next day. We never did repeat that walk.
Zeus and Blondie also had to spend some time in two different kennels when I was working out of town. This isn’t something that I could have imagined for Zeus before moving to Alberta. I was told by staff that Zeus had a GREAT time and Blondie was friend with everyone. In the second “pet resort” that I took them to, the staff loved both dogs, but mostly Zeus I was told, he was a BIG dog in a little dogs body. I always thought that myself.
He was never really overly friendly with anyone but myself, with the exception of some family members and people he really knew well. He was his own dog, did pretty much what he wanted and I pretty much let him do that as well. I didn’t have a lot of rules, didn’t really see it as a necessity.
Back last Fall, Zeus lost the ability to jump up onto the bed. In hindsight, perhaps I should have taken him to the very right away and maybe they could have helped him. I lifted him onto the bed, no problem. I had seen a set of pet steps in a mall outside of town and got them for him shortly after Christmas. It only took a few minutes and a few biscuits to train him to use the steps. He could jump down, no problem.
Around the same time, he also started having issues jumping up into my truck. No problem there, I would lift him into the truck. That’s part of my job and a job I would do willingly until the end of time.
In January, I took the dogs into the vet for their annual shots and checkup. They were a little concerned about Zeus, he had a bloated belly. I told the vet that every winter he would put on weight and his belly would get big. My sister always teased me that Zeus was a chunky dog.
I took him in for blood tests and they came back OK. The vet had suspected Cushings Disease.
In the last few weeks, Zeus started having issues walking up stairs to the point that I would have to help lift his back end up on each step. Again, this is something I would do without any complaint at all.
He started having issues jumping off of the bed as well. No problem, I will lift you down, you’re my little buddy and that isn’t asking for much at all.
This past Monday, Zeus, Blondie and I went for a walk around the block. The walk might have been 1km, at most, and it took us nearly 40 minutes to complete. Blondie was at the end of her leash pulling and Zeus was at the other end of his leash, dragging. At one point, he laid down in the grass and stayed there for a few minutes.
We made it home and Zeus was tired, I could tell. He didn’t seem to be in any pain at all though.
On Wednesday, I noticed that Zeus was having a really hard time in standing up on the laminate flooring. His legs would slide out from under him. I was concerned so I made an appointment at the vet for Friday evening.
We went to the vet and were there for over 3 hours. They started with a set of xrays to see what was going on with his back legs/hips and to see, if they would, why he had lost 7 pounds since his January visit. All of this happened VERY quickly. The weight loss may have been a little more gradual, and I really didn’t notice.
After the xrays, they saw that Zeus’ liver was nearly twice the size that it should be. They also saw some sort of “mass” in his stomach and liver. They were worried, so was I.
They wanted to do blood work – I gave the OK.
After they analyzed the first drawing of blood, they wanted to draw another sample because the results were not good. The second test confirmed what they saw in the first test.
Although we do not know exactly what was wrong with Zeus, they suspected cancer of the liver, Cushings Disease and he had issues with the vertebrate in his back – that was causing his standing/walking issues.
I was given two different drugs for him to take home and he started on them last night, right before we all went to bed.
We woke up at 5:30 this morning (it is now nearly midnight, so it has been a long day) and I carried him outside, he pooped and peed, no issues. I carried him back in, laid him down on his mat in the living room (my bathmat, Zeus LOVED it). I gave him another dose of painkillers.
A few hours later, after he had a second dose, he still appeared to be in a lot of pain. He was whimpering, constantly and if I left the room, he’d bark at me until I came back. I was worried about him and called the vet to see how long it should take for the drugs to take effect. I was told within an hour, so they told me to bring him back in.
Off we go, Blondie was in her crate at home, didn’t want to have her at the vet again, waiting…
The vet was concerned when he saw Zeus. He was panting and in obvious distress. If I stopped petting Zeus, he’d whimper.
I was told that an option would be an ultra-sound to see if they could determine if there was a cancerous mass in his liver or if there was a blockage somewhere. The scan would be nearly a thousand dollars because it is a long weekend.
Now, I could have withdrawn money from my RRSP to pay for this and I would have, but I didn’t think it made sense. If there was some sort of blockage and Zeus needed surgery, it would cost nearly $4000. If it was cancer, there really aren’t many options, regardless of cost. I was also concerned about his quality of life. He was no longer able to stand on his own, when he did stand, he couldn’t walk very well and when he did walk, he was VERY shaky.
What type of life is it for a dog who can’t walk? I think I would have issues if I couldn’t walk. I also couldn’t stand to see him in pain.
I posted this on Facebook a few days ago:
I do believe everything there. I moved, I took Zeus (and Blondie) with me. There was no other choice. I never did anything more than drive by a shelter. Their pet resort treated them well and they loved going there. When times were a bit tough and money was tight, I would feed my dogs before I would feed myself.
The next point, “I will never let you hurt” is where I had a problem. Zeus was hurting. It wasn’t my fault, I didn’t let him get hit by a car, but he was hurting and I had to help him.
I would never desert him when he was old, and he was getting old. Had he not been hurting, as I have said, I would carry him up, down, outside, inside, to the truck, from the truck, wherever he needed to go. I would do that without reservation. It is the least I could do for all he did for me, without ever saying a word.
Zeus, luckily, never went blind. Had he, I would have made sure that the house was safe.
The last two lines are the toughest two. The time came. It came today.
I made the hardest decision, by far, of my life. I had the vet put my little buddy, my best friend, down. I was there with him, at the end. I was holding him. I do love him. He is family.
I will miss you forever Zeus and I will never forget you. You were MY first dog and you taught me that I do love dogs. I am a dog person.
I hope that your life with me was a good one. I did my best.
Love Kevin, Blondie, Joan, Dave and everyone else that crossed your path. You were and are the best dog that anyone could have hoped for.
Until, perhaps, we meet again…