It is with enormous and deep sorrow that one of my best friends in the world passed away today as a result of Hemangiosarcoma. This is where the spleen becomes cancerous which eventually results in fatal hemorrhaging. There is virtually no treatment for this. She would likely pass away on her own accord within 24 hours. We didn’t know whether she was in pain or not, she rarely complained about anything, but we suspected she was. She looked absolutely miserable. We decided to take the incredibly difficult decision to put her to sleep instead of letting her suffer for another 24 hours. An incredibly sad day for all the family.
We got her 12.5 years ago as a puppy, full of life. We named her Rhody after the blossoming rhododendrons in our garden. She was a black Labrador, the sweetest dog you could imagine. She would wait for me outside to come home from work, and if she was in the house she’d listen for the sound of the bus that brought me home. When I entered the house she was almost always the first to greet me. She had an uncanny skill of measuring time. Her afternoon meal was at 4pm and somehow she knew when that time came. She would come to me or my wife looking at us in anticipation for the late lunch, often exactly at 4pm. The same thing would happen at 8pm for her evening snack.
After coming back from a walk with my wife she would rush (and I mean rush) downstairs to the basement to say hello to me. Like all Labradors she was obsessed with fetching balls and sticks and loved getting into water. She also knew how to relax and in the evening would lie on her back, legs up. I believe we gave here a happy life, she certainly gave much joy and love in return. She would be ecstatic when we went on trips to cabins we’d rent. We always picked a place where there was a river, because jumping into rivers was by far her absolute favorite pastime. It’s difficult to be sure, but she seemed to say thank you for the things we gave her. This was especially the case when I filled her dish with food. She would first walk back from her dish, circle me with a wagging tail while looking at me and return to her food. She also had a thing where she would smile at us, probably mimicking what we did. When my wife and kids were away on a trip and I was on my own I would let her upstairs to sleep in with me on her own bed. She would be so excited to do that. Some say Labradors aren’t the sharpest of dogs, but I can tell you she was a genius when it came to food. She had a wide range of words she knew, these included: rhody, ball, stick, get, fetch, sleep, bed, stay, wait, sit, lie, paw (i.e give me your paw), go pee, let’s go (meaning run), leash, walk, good girl, bad girl, dish, treat, squirrel, cat, rat, water, toy, car (she loved riding in the car), post (which actually meant let’s check out the fig tree on the road by our neighbors house next to the postbox), and what’s this (i.e check this out). She had a thing about figs. We also have a fig tree in the garden and as the figs developed she would inspect them almost daily to see if they were ripe. Once they were ripe, they would be gone. At Christmas we always had a wrapped present for her (a bit chewy bone).
This morning at 7.15am (28 Sept), we heard a loud falling sound. Rhody had collapsed, her legs had given away. We rushed downstairs, she was lying flat out at the bottom of the stairs where she usually waited for us to come down stairs in the morning. She couldn’t move and was clearly in a lot of distress. We took her to the vet, her ailment was diagnosed and we faced the abyss of having to lose her. It was an incredibly traumatic moment. You do not want to go through what we went through. It was unbearable. She was still conscious, her faculties were intact but her body was failing her and there was nothing that could be done about it. Imagine having to make the decision to let her go. For my wife and myself, this was the hardest and saddest decision we have ever made.
Rhody, we will miss you so deeply. May you rest in peace, our best friend and most loyal companion. Farewell.