Losing a pet, for us, was the hardest thing we have ever dealt with. Emotionally, the process was exhausting. I learned there is no ‘right way’ to grieve, and that this is a cycle that will surface from time and time again. We miss our boy dearly; Humphrey Bogart, you are one magnificent dog who we miss so much.Read More
I remember thinking, “But how will you KNOW when the end of your pets’ life is near?” As I write this with tear filled eyes, the computer screen is blurry and I keep pausing to rest my head in my hands to just sob. From time to time, Humphrey’s head will look up from his own paws to glance at me; but not often. He’s a very sick and very tired boy. And today he was given his life sentence.
Hours ago I sat on the floor at our vet’s clinic, gently petting him as we waited for the doctor to come in. The doctor who has been seeing Humphrey for at least a decade; who I used to work with at different animal clinic long long ago, and who knows me incredibly well as his client. “Okay, Ashley…” he said when he came in. I knew from his tone, and I couldn’t retain my tears. He continued to tell me about the diagnosis: a large mass in his chest, which has put pressure on Humphrey’s heart. He also has fluid in his lungs, and all of this is why he has been coughing for months. Months that I will never get back. I assumed he had acid reflux because it never seemed severe…until last night.
Last night I was sitting at my desk writing when I heard him cough. The cough was different this time though, I looked up and within seconds, Humphrey towered to the floor on his side. He attempted to get up three times and fell over after each one. I screamed for my husband who came flying down the stairs. I tried to explain what happened—it didn’t seem like a seizure, I just wasn’t sure WHAT had occurred. One thing was for certain though, Humphrey immediately transformed into a different dog. His eyes changed, his breathing became labored, and it appeared as if the will was sucked from his spirit. I almost had a panic attack…every ounce of me was shaking and I just kept saying, “I’m not ready. I’m not READY…..!” He calmed down some breathing wise, was able to go outside to potty, and we made it through the night without any other events. At 4:30 in the morning I heard him cough again and I stumbled out of bed. I could tell he was imbalanced and just not well…as much as I tried to sleep, it wasn’t happening and I knew that there was no way I could teach today.
I am glad I took the day off and that I was able to get him in to the doctor. But at the same time, I am so mad at SO many things. I’m mad at myself for getting so angry when he hasn’t been able to hold his poop and has accidents inside. I’m so mad at my negative thoughts that I have truthfully had, my impatience and frustration. Even recently I browsed the internet for Golden Retriever puppies because well, who doesn’t like looking at puppies?! And now I feel TERRIBLE. I had no idea. How could we have, right? But that doesn’t change anything. With my anger filters in sorrow and regret: how many more times could I have walked him around the neighborhood or taken him to the park? How many more photos could I have taken when he was healthy and fit and HAPPY? Sadness and fatigue now haze his beautiful brown eyes and the photos I have taken today remind me how quickly life can change.
Twenty-four hours ago he was playing with a ball and wagging his tail. He was following us up the stairs to the kids bedrooms and family room, he was begging for food and constantly under foot. Now I wonder, how will we go on without him?
I’m not dumb or irrational about my grief…I KNOW that time will heal us and that we will BE okay. I don’t think the world is going to combust or that anything serious will happen when Humphrey passes. But why do we have to experience this NOW? I’m not ready. I want more time.
There’s a good chance that you have had a pet of your own pass as well. Who is EVER ready for death to knock on their door step? So while I don’t know when it will happen, I do know that it will be soon. I don’t know how, but I know it will be tragic. I pray for my kids, that they can witness our strength and dignity through this time and that they will also grieve our Humphrey. I pray that they remember him always, as the Big Brown Wonder who used to knock them down SO often as babies, and who just recently, covered Pierson’s bare tummy and back with hundreds of kisses at bed time. I pray for my husband, OH how I pray for my husband…who picked Humphrey up and brought him home as an 8 week old puppy. Who endured major depression as a young adult, clinging to Humphrey the entire time. And while I pray for these things, I also want to remember, so bear with me as I share some of my favorites:
-The first day that I met Humphrey. It was my first unofficial date with Asa. Humphrey greeted me by knocking me down and slobbering all over me.
-When he lived me for a period of time while Asa and I were dating and later engaged
-When he jumped out of a glass basement window just to be near to Asa
-He ate a 30 pound bag of dog treats while we were out of the house…and then pooped for days
-He ate our Christmas ham while I was nursing Reese and had no idea
-He welcomed a prostitute who broke into our house while I was nursing Pierson (okay this just changed my crying to laughing. Thanks, Hump)
-When he sliced a major artery in his tongue after catching a stick at the park; that wasn’t funny, like at ALL, but the memory of it is just insane and it has made for a good story ;)
-The 5 times he has moved with us into different homes, each one of them he has followed us around in and helped make us feel SAFE
-How he used to break up our fights. He would sit in the middle of us and paw at our legs trying to get us to stop!
-How he constantly whines and barks and whimpers while riding in a car…until today. When he laid down the entire time and never made one peep. My heart shattered and I’ll never forget that.
-His many trips to Michigan, how he loves to sunbathe on the hill in my parents yard, overlooking the field of sheep
-Taking him hiking and walking, watching him fetch sticks in creeks
-How he welcomed our kids when each was born, and how he has loved each of them so very well
There are so many more. You don’t put 11 years of memories [Humphrey was 1 when we met] into a single blog post. You can’t. I don’t know what the next days will look like. I keep going from being fine and talking calmly, to just sobbing hysterically. Never have I felt so emotionally unstable, so heartbroken, or so shattered. If you know Humphrey, I’m so glad that you do. For so many of you, he has greeted you with sloppy kisses and begged for food off your plate. Thank you for loving him.
I love you, Humphrey Bogart Glass. When it’s your time, may you greet Jesus with a ball in your mouth, leaping and bounding through His pearly gates. Please greet me when it’s my time down the road, okay? I too, may be a little older and a whole lot more grey, but you’ll remember me right? Bring me your ball and you can introduce me to our Creator. While you are still here, I promise to do nothing but love you, hold you, pray over you, and give you whatever you want. Be strong always, dear boy, here or there.
To all the dog lovers out there, well, I think you'll be able to relate to this post quite well. I've once been called "the most sentimental person ever," and because I fully embrace that characteristic, yes, I am writing a blog post dedicated to my now eleven year old dog.
Humphrey Bogart, the dog that most of you know VERY well, turns eleven years old TODAY. When my feet hit the floor I saw him sleeping on my side of the bed. I dropped to the ground beside him and kissed his face a thousand times, telling him, "Happy birthday, Buddy!" My daughter Reese woke soon after and excitedly reminded her brother that today is Humphrey's birthday! I had to rush for a work meeting, but as I left, my husband and the kids were singing him the birthday song. Celebrating pets birthdays may seem kind of strange, but if you're anything like me, than your pets are pretty up there in equality to your kids. (Okay, THAT may be a stretch...I am not fully equating our animals with our human children, however, I will say that MY love for all of them is pretty dang close in measure.)
I was introduced to Humphrey back in October of 2007. Growing up, I had a white Labrador Retriever named Holly, and I knew by Facebook stalking (you all do it) that the guy I was into (my now husband) had a Chocolate Lab. I was thrilled to spend a day with both, as that guy had invited me to meet at the coffee shop he worked at for a hot beverage. I walked out the back glass doors where his back was towards me. His dog however, saw me in an instant, and hopped up, greeting me with massive paws on my chest. He almost knocked me to the ground and I remember being so appalled at this--MY Lab, was perfect. Like, literally though, she turned herself into my brother's service dog, and basically never left his or my parents side. She was quiet and sweet, never licked, and lord have mercy, NEVER jumped! (Basically she was half human, we are all convinced, and her other half was angel.) I knew then, Humphrey was NOT part human nor part angel. Little did I know though....my heart would be transformed.
Humphrey got kicked out of his house shortly after this meet-up, because he had 'bit' the mailman. Asa ("that guy") was living with his parents and therefore, so was his dog. Well, Humphrey never actually DID bite the mailman, he excitedly had jumped on him and left BARELY a sliver of a red scratch. Regardless, that was taken very seriously and the humane society demanded that Humphrey be quarantined completely for two weeks. Asa's parents weren't mean or anything, but they just didn't exactly want them on their premises anymore. Before we decided that he could live with me [obviously Asa and I moved QUICK, because we had spent every single day together SINCE that coffee date, and I had in that time frame got my OWN puppy--our Golden Retriever, Elsa]; Humphrey did something kind of dumb. It was a Sunday morning, we had just got back to Asa's parents from church, and we saw Humphrey running down the driveway towards us to greet us. The funny (not funny?) thing IS, is that Humphrey had started the "quarantine" and had been locked in Asa's bedroom for the short couple of hours that we would be away. He has always been ASA'S DOG, and made this abundantly clear to all of us when we noticed he had busted out of the basement bedroom window, in order to GET to Asa who pulled into the driveway. He didn't have a scratch on him that day and wagged his tail, greeting us how he always did--with an over abundance of pure energy.
We decided that day, I would take him and keep him at my house, where he could hang out all day with Elsa. She quickly became his best friend and long lost companion--his disposition changed immensely in the coming weeks and months; though that may be largely due to how much more exercise he was getting? Asa and I went on walks daily with our dogs--taking them to open fields and letting them run ramped. Humphrey has always been the extreme, and Elsa has always been the quiet graceful one-- together, they make the most amazing duo.
Since I probably can't write one single post talking about all ELEVEN of Humphrey's years, I know I need to wrap it up. In June of 2011, he gave us quite the scare when he and I were playing fetch. Throwing a stick and him catching it completely wrong resulted in a punctured artery in his tongue and LOTS of blood. That moment was one of many that I realized how THANKFUL I am for Humphrey and how much I freeking love his soul.
Even when, for instance, he ate the entire Christmas ham. Or when he tried to burn Asa's parents house down by managing to turn on their stove when he hopped up for leftovers. Or when he ate a twenty pound bag of dog treats and we witnessed the results of that ALL night long. There have been quite a few (more than we can count) mishaps with this dog, but even and especially with those memories, he is the most lovable and protective friend.
We've learned this summer, that his neck has a disc that is showing wear and tear from age. Our vet explained it to us like one of us having a rotator cuff issue and it causing immense arm pain--Humphrey's neck was so sore and he was in SO much pain; he would holler out and was hardly able to move at all. Luckily it doesn't seem to be too major, and with the nerve meds he's been on and anti-inflammatories, he is already back to his normal self. See a trend here? He's just amazing. He is still on medication (I am guessing will always be?) but is no longer limping, is playing with his favorite ball, and goes out back to sunbathe on some of these incredibly hot summer afternoons. He begs 24/7, licks our faces, and his number one priority is being with us, wherever we are.
Asa shared this sweet birthday post on Facebook today with a photo I took a few days ago:
"This old man is one of my oldest and most loyal friends. Today he turns 11. Humphrey became part of my family when it was just he and I. I was battling depression, and had very little direction in life. He never seemed to care about those things. Humphrey was with me as I built a life with Ashley. He has protected us through 4 moves, and this week a 5th. He has been the gentle giant to both of my not so gentle children. Happy Birthday to great big lug of friend! Praying for many more happy returns!"
I feel like this sums (granted, a very LONG summary) our sweetheart of a dog pretty well. He was Asa's first, to walk beside him through some pretty dark days, and quickly jumped into the rest of our hearts. Michigan trips, lake swims, hikes, and more, he's been there for them all. I'm excited (and admittedly also nervous) to see where the months and next years take us. Eleven is a big birthday, and this guy deserves the world! Oh, and if you haven't noticed where I stand now, ten years since meeting him, I know now that Humphrey is also half human, half angel ;)
The Company Store gifted Humphrey with an amazing dog bed for this birthday. Made of memory foam, it is easier on his joints, provides extra comfort, and is great for older dogs like this sweet man. We've washed the cover several times already (because hello shedding Labs), and it looks just like the day we received it. We are so grateful, and I think Humphrey is too! [Full disclosure: ALL the other animals sleep and cuddle on it as well. Ha! It's a hit for all of them!] Thank you, Company Store!!
Clearly from above, boxes are currently our life at the moment. We are excited to get in to our new house and for the next pages of our story to be written! Thanks for following along, and if you wish Humphrey a happy birthday, I'll be sure to tell him! We are cooking him a burger now and about to sing together as family.