Our memorial to Abel

My husband found Old Dog Have through our vet clinic and we loved the idea of helping old dogs. I  began checking the ODH website and that’s how we first saw Abel.  When he first walked up the steps, big tumor on his hip, it was as if he said “I’m Home!”.  We fell in love with him immediately. There was an immediate trust of us from him that was so unexpected.  It was like he’d been here for years. My friend commented that he ‘hit the dog lottery’ coming to our home but he was more a gift to us than I can express. I had to put my 19-year-old cat Zoe to sleep two days after Abel joined us and he filled a void I was afraid to face. I was lucky enough to have some time on sabbatical, so Abel and I got to spend a lot of time together. He spent the day of my cat’s passing laying in my lap snuggling and letting me cry. I told him he had the ‘spirit of the Z’ in him as he was a big snuggler just like her, very vocal and had pink paws just like she did.

Eleven days after moving in we took him in for surgery to remove the tumor. As soon as that thing was removed he was off and running – cone and all.  He always made us laugh, we’ve never seen a dog with a bigger heart than Abe’s. He was resilient and wouldn’t let that cone stop him from going through doors, up the stairs, onto the bed, – nothing deterred him. He really never acted sick with cancer or arthritis (though we knew from the vets that he had both) until the last couple of months. He just kept up and wanted to walk, play, run, chase, hunt, greet, jump, explore, go for car rides, play guard dog when our resident dog saw cars approach the house – he showed he still had puppy in him ‘til the end.

Early on he decided it was going to be okay to sleep anywhere and everywhere so he got up on every bed, every couch, every dog bed, every lap that came to visit. He gave kisses and LOVED to snuggle between my husband and I or put his head on your chest. In fact, he got quite jealous anytime Sam would hug or kiss me – he’d bark up a storm and worm his way in between us.  He LOVED getting a bath in the bathtub too. We found out on a trip to Rainer he loved the water and swimming. The river was more of a small creek/pool and he spent four days wading right in, swimming and swimming. He was in heaven.  He took to diving down to search for rocks. He brought me three, which I have since painted with his, my cat and our other dogs’ names on them and they sit on our mantle above the fireplace. They are priceless. He loved treats, loved telling us many times a day where they were stored in the pantry, had a sweet little whine when he wasn’t getting his way…..He knew he was being cared for unconditionally and in return he took care of and loved us back.

The last couple of days things turned really quickly and he just couldn’t make it up or down the stairs easily, his back legs had gone numb, the cancer had spread to his spleen and his accidents were increasing. That morning he asked to join me on the bed and we snuggled and slept for a good couple of hours. I knew he was telling me he was tired and it would be our last time. We took him in to to our vet and she confirmed it. My husband and I loved on him til the end, and Sam believes he told him he was tired too and ready to go on. He knew he was loved in the end. We had done just about all we could to provide him with medicine, surgery, non slip booties, and his quality of life was slipping. Even though his mind and heart were still active like a puppy.  We were a mess to say the least. Who knew a dog who joined your pack for a mere year could leave such paw prints on your heart?

Part of us feels selfish for only having such a short time with him but the other part feels so grateful he came into our lives. He wanted for nothing here and we’re so happy he got to have his final year with us. He taught us more about patience, forgiveness, resilience, empathy, unconditional love and living in the present moment than any life lessons ever have.

We want to give special thanks to Old Dog Haven for being such a champion of the old pups and helping guide us to knowing what to look for and when it might be time, and our vets for being so kind,  compassionate and caring.

Goodbye sweet Abel. You were such a good friend and companion for this past year. I hope you’re running free and enjoying all the treats, comfy beds and love you so deserve.

Mom, Dad and Otis

PS – two days after he passed my husband says he felt him on his leg in bed letting him know he was okay. That was our Abel.