Saturday, November 26, 2011

Scoutie O' Scoutie - 1996 to November 2011

My dog Scoutie O' Scoutie died last night at the emergency hospital for animals in Friendship Heights in Washington, DC. From the waiting room chairs my daughter Erin and I could see Scoutie on the table with three attendants petting him, checking his blood pressure with a little blue cuff, and giving him fluids through a catheter line in his right front leg. His snout rested in an oxygen "mask" made of clear plastic with an air tube coming into it from a central panel that looked like a rocket ship's display board with lights flashing and faint bells going off here and there.

Every once in a while, he'd raise his head to see where we were or at least what was going on . . . When well, he never liked the vet. Last night, he let the team work on him without a struggle. His fluids were low and his blood pressure hovering at 50 . . . instead of a healthy 100.

It was Erin's idea to go to the emergency room . . . I felt that if we took him there, he might not get out. Well, this is not the time to say I was right. At 15 and 9 months, Scoutie was definitely an elder in the clan of his breed, Shiba Inu. In Japanese, those words translate to "little dog." Foxlike, playful, and communicative, Scoutie lived like the king of his domain. Last night he let Erin hold him in the back seat the entire time we were driving to 4105 Brandwine Street NW. I never saw him do that before . . . ever.

In the mornings, his routine included trotting along the fence in the front yard making sure that no intruder squirrels had entered the yard. Then he'd trot right back in to have his arthritis medicine wrapped in cheese and his usual food. Turns out that xrays showed he had some kind of growth in his belly. His low blood volume meant that growth was causing some bleeding that no other checkups or treatments caught.

So here we are, in the ER, with the doc telling me it would be "inhumane" to bring him home in the car. The alternative? Leave him there for hydration purposes and see the internist on Monday morning to do an FNA and see what kind of growth we were dealing with. Chances that he might not survive the two days waiting for the internist were high. And chances are he might not survive the chemo to treat the tumor.

At home he would be more uncomfortable without the fluids.  This is a difficult decision . . . He raised his head from the table and looked directly into my eyes . . . I hugged him and that was it.

If you love your pet, would you make him go through chemo? Scoutie was so weak at that point, I couldn't imagine him surviving through the night.

And that was true . . .

My son and I almost lost our lives getting Scoutie near a strip mall on the other side of Richmond. We arrived early and as we hung up the payphone (1996, remember), this car full of teenagers came barrelling into the parking lot and crashed their car right into the payphone seconds after WE had stepped away.

So, we were compelled to pick out a puppy . . . the girl seemed aloof and certainly cost more. As Sean sat on the floor near the puppies, one tumbled over his legs and plopped in his lap. And Scoutie was ours . . .
forever, we thought, but no. Just for a while. As a family, we are grateful to have Scoutie as long as we did.

Scout seemed wise beyond his puppy existence . . . he came in every morning to wake me up in a staring game that always beat the alarm clock for precision. 6:30 on the dot . . . This morning I felt his eyes on me as usual . . . except of course, he wasn't really there. Or maybe he is . . . and will always be. My Scoutie.