Thursday, November 25, 2010

My dog Rain

My 15 year old Labrador Retriever passed away yesterday afternoon.  I came home early from work and found him laying on the floor with labored breath, and in a mess of blood, and excrement, and about an hour from death.  I carried him to my truck and then into the vet's office, after I cleaned him up, and he passed on his own in front of us moments after I signed the release to euthanize him.  I had a hard time signing the document.  If we did anything with him to try and save him, he would have needed an immediate blood transfusion.  The doctor said his proteins were down to 4 and wouldn't be able to heal with them down that far, especially at his age, and of bigger concern his red cell count was down to 14...normal is in the mid 30s.  It was critical.  I sensed it when I found him and carried him.  Even still, I labored on my own with making the decision if I wanted to be there in the room with him when they put him down.  I knew I wanted to, I just needed to say it to them.  When I decided that I would, and said it, he took one last breath and went on his own...literally a moment after I said it.

I have a lot of Rain stories.  He was a rescue dog.  I took him in when he was 1 and I was 27.  His first year was difficult; I brought him back from malnourishment, kennel cough, pneumonia, and the physical abuse he endured as a puppy with his previous, anonymous, owner.  Someone found him on a highway near Christiana, Delaware, and turned him in to the SPCA.

My favorite Rain story took place during his first year with me.  I had to run out to the market to grab cookies which I had promised my 8th grade homeroom as a snack for the next day, Friday.  A storm was kicking up and I had already learned in a short time that Rain didn't like storms.  He'd sit and lean next to me or literally on me if I let him.  He trembled during storms.

I took Rain with me everywhere when he was young, so he hopped into the back of our Jeep Wrangler and off we went to the market.  It really started to come down as we made the ride.  It was very dark.  The thunder and lightning kicked up, and the wind increased.  It was a nasty Spring storm.

I pulled in close to the front doors of the market.  Without a coat on, I sprinted into the store.  There were few people around and the automatic doors opened and I had an easy run to the cookie dough aisle.  I grabbed two sticks, paid for them and then hustled back out to the Jeep.

The back plastic window of the Jeep was pressed out and had been unhitched.  Rain was gone.

The market sat right next to a highway with a lot of traffic.  Being that he was a stray or left abandoned, I worried that he would run off someplace where I would never find him.  Or worse.

I shoved the bag into the Jeep and started to run through the lot screaming his name, Rain!  Rain!  Rain!

A car pulled up close to me, the driver rolled the window down and heard me yelling Rain!  Rain!  Rain like a lunatic in the storm...and he rolled the window right back up and sped off.

I couldn't find him.  Soaked to the bone, an old woman walked out from the overhang of the storefront and approached me.  She asked if I was looking for a dog.

He was in the store.

I sprinted into the store and ran aisle to aisle and found him sitting perfectly still next to the cookie dough.  He went right to spot I stood in only moments ago.  When he saw me he stood up and started wagging his tail so hard he actually was wagging his ass.

We both trotted up to each other, greeted each other, and then walked out of the store as if it were a perfectly natural order of business.  No one looked at us or seemed to even realize that there was a stray black dog in the store.

That's my Rain story.  He was a sweet, good dog.

1 comment:

  1. Brian- I am so sorry to hear this. I know how hard it is to lose a dog. I can't believe Rain was 15! That's pretty old for a lab; you must have been a great owner. I rescued my dog too! There's something special about rescue dogs. :) I'm sending positive thoughts your way this Thanksgiving.