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Posts Tagged ‘senior dog’

March 17, 2017: Bubba

He was supposed to be a present for my ex’s brother but, after having him for two weeks, I decided to keep him and got  her brother a toaster oven instead. 

He was unlike my other two pugs at the time.  Whereas Jelly was a bossy bitch and Maximus a laid back lover, Bubba was a furry ball of anxiety, easily spooked by cyclists and skateboards, wary of strangers, parking entrances, and animatronic Christmas decorations.  He was, quite simply, a goof.

And yet, despite his adorable stiff-legged gait and furrowed brow that seemed to hint at some perpetual deep-seeded worries, he was never the one people were drawn to when they met the pack.  It was either Jelly or Maximus or, later, Lulu who would get all the attention while Bubba would warily hang back, hesitant to commit, his tail doing a slow noncommittal wag as he surveyed the situation.

It wouldn’t be uncommon for him to seek out the relative remote security of the laundry hamper, his toy box, the tiniest dog bed in the house.

He was in many ways a wallflower, the highschool equivalent of an outcast nerd – always self-conscious, always awkward.  But always happy.

And then, Akemi joined the family.  She’d never had much experience with dogs back in Japan but in short time, she and Bubba hit it off.  And over the next seven years, they developed a bond that would rival any relationship, human or otherwise.

She doted on him and he grew infatuated with her.  In time, they became inseparable.  I’d come home from work to find him sitting on her lap while she surfed the net, or parked comfortably beside her while she watched t.v.  He would sit by her feet whenever she cooked and nothing would make him happier than to join her on their extended walks, just the two of them, strolling for blocks on end.

When my television series, Dark Matter, was picked up, I granted Bubba a certain immortality by naming THREE’s big-ass gun after him.  Larger than life, unwieldy, sometimes comical – it was the perfect tribute.

In his later years, he lost his hearing and his ability to hop up to claim his favorite spot perched atop the living room couch, but he never slowed down – unless he sensed a walk was coming to an end in which case he’d draw out that final block for all he was worth.

Nothing made Akemi prouder than to have passersby mistake him for a puppy.  At the time, it seemed he would live forever.  Or, at least, close to.

When he developed a growth near his ear, we had it checked out and then, erring on the side of caution, had it surgically removed.  The tumor, it turned out, was cancerous. Months later, when Bubba developed a cough, we had x-rays taken. They came back all clear.  We ran further tests.  He was diagnosed with bronchitis and given antibiotics.

But even though the cough seemed to get better, it never really left.  And then, suddenly, a couple of months ago, it worsened.  To the point that we brought him in again.  This time, x-rays showed abnormalities in his lungs.  What at first was suspected to be an enlarged heart turned out to be lung cancer.

In his last months, perhaps sensing his time was limited, Bubba grew even more attached to Akemi, following her around the apartment, crying when he would lose sight of her.  He was at his happiest, as always, seated on her lap or right beside her, the feel of her reassuring hand on him.

We tried various treatments to save him, from acupuncture and astragalus to Palladia and Prednisone.  None of them had any effect.  X-rays taken two weeks later showed his situation had worsened.  But we never gave up hope.  And, I like to think that neither did Bubba.  Until yesterday.

His coughing worsened and his breathing grew more labored.  He stopped eating and could barely support himself.  I was at work when I received the text from Akemi.  It was time.

I drove back home, picked them up, and traveled to the 24 hour emergency clinic (twice actually because I realized I’d forgotten my wallet the first time).  There, late last night, we said goodbye to our goofy, needy, happy, wonderful boy.

I hope that somehow, somewhere out there, that old pug gang of mine has been reunited

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I first set eyes on her in her little enclosure, backing up and charging, stopping just short of the window, then backing up and charging again. She was admittedly adorable. And tiny! So small I could have held her in my hand.

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But I didn’t want a dog. Dogs were, after all, a huge responsibility and, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m an incredibly irresponsible person. It would have made for a terrible match. But, as I wrote back in February of 2007:

“My reasons for not wanting a dog were numerous: the expense, the unappealing prospect of having to housebreak the little furball, the loss of freedom that comes with being a pet-owner, the necessary commitment to everything from walks to vet visits. On the other hand, her argument for getting a dog was equally compelling: she really wanted one. My sister had tipped her off to a pug for sale at a local pet shop and, after an animated discussion, I agreed to accompany her to the Alexis Nihon Plaza. It was, we agreed beforehand, to be nothing more than a fact-finding mission. There would be no dog purchases on this day. Absolutely, positively, no way! I had steeled myself mentally and was prepared to stick to my guns.

We brought the puppy home that afternoon and named her Jelly after Joe Vitelli’s character in Analyze This.”

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That first day, she was constantly on the move, racing around the living room, around chairs, under tables, bounding around the backyard. And then, when she finally stopped, I grew concerned. She was unusually lethargic which I deemed a significant change in her personality. “I think she’s sick!”I said, ready to whisk her to the vet. “She’s tired,”I was told. “It’s two a.m.!”

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I didn’t want a dog but, once I got her, Jelly became my life. I walked her and fed her and brought her to the vet when she was sick; soothed her and bathed and brought her to doggy daycare. When I got a job working on Stargate in Vancouver, she came with me of course, to the other side of the country where she eventually settled in quite nicely, running the corridors of the production offices with the other dogs, sitting on Richard Dean Anderson’s chest when he would lie down on the floor to accommodate her, on one memorable occasion swiping Michael Shanks’s tuna fish sandwich when he briefly set it down to grab a script. Over the years, she became a mainstay of sorts, perched imperiously atop the headrest of my office couch, presiding over the the action.

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In time, we became inseparable. We were the perfect match. Her – bossy, demanding, fickle, and temperamental. Me – a sucker for a cute little thing. In the 16+ years we were together, she was my longest relationship.

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When she slowed down in later years, I doted on her, carrying her up and down, in and out, when she could no longer do stairs. She would sleep beside me, sometimes awakening in the middle of the night, crying out in confusion – and I’d wake up, lay my hand on her back and that would be enough to comfort her and send her back to sleep. When her eyesight started to fail, I applied the topical gel, morning and night, to help restore her vision. When she stopped walking, I arranged for the stem cell treatment that returned the strength to her hind legs. I’m not a dancer by any stretch of the imagination but, whenever she’d feel sick or down, I’d sweep her off her paws and bound around the room with her in my arms until she seemed a little better – or threw me that bewildering “What the hell is going on?” look.

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There was no denying, she was well-loved. And strong. Akemi was convinced she’d live to be a hundred. Dog years anyway.

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But, sadly, time caught up with her. She stopped walking. She started sleeping through the days. And, once her appetite faded, I realized it was time to say goodbye.

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Jelly took her final car ride this afternoon in the style to which she had grown accustomed – lounging in her big pink fluffy bed. When the time came, I gave her a kiss on the nose (something she’d always shied from in the past, but I guess she figured that, after sixteen years, she would stop playing hard to get and give in just this once), she shut her eyes and drifted off.

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In time, I’ll pick up her ashes and place them on my night stand where she’ll resume her rightful place by my bedside.

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Akemi told me that, at one point today, Jelly drifted off into what seemed a happy dreamland, wagging her tail perhaps at some fond recollection. I like to think that, maybe, even if only in her mind, she was, no longer fettered by those heavy years, bounding around that backyard one last time.

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