My Best Friend Romeo

I recently lost my dog Romeo. Of all the difficult things I have experienced in my life, nothing compares to the pain from losing him.

About six weeks ago I received a phone call from my mother in NY (I’m currently in Florida finishing my degree) who told me she was at the vet with Romeo. She said he could not feel or move his back legs, and that he would have to be put down. My mother put the vet on the phone and she told me Romeo was suffering from IVDD (Intervertebral Disk Disorder, which is extremely rare in Border Collies and also rare to happen to a 5-year-old dog), there was nothing they could do for him there, with the only option being to go to Cornell University’s Emergency Veterinary Hospital nearby for further testing and most likely surgery on his spine. I asked my mother to get him to Cornell quickly and have the Vet call me when Romeo arrived.

Romeo arrived at Cornell around midnight. The Vet called me and said he would need an MRI to confirm surgery was needed, and if so, they would undergo the emergency surgery as soon as possible. At 2 AM, they called back with news that Romeo had herniated two discs in his back, pressing into his spinal cord, and he immediately went into surgery. The operation lasted from 2 AM to 9 AM, and was successful. Romeo spent the next week recovering at Cornell Veterinary Center until my younger sister drove up from Nashville, Tennessee to pick him up and take care of him for a few days until I could drive up from Florida to get him after my Statistics exams. By the time I was able to pick up Romeo, he was a little over a week out of surgery, and had yet to regain feeling or movement in his legs, and bladder/bowel function.

For the month I took care of Romeo in Florida, each day was difficult for both of us. I would start the mornings off getting Romeo out of his crate, expressing his bladder, giving him all of his medications, doing physical therapy on his toes, feet, and legs, and hand feeding him his food, which he would only eat with a cream cheese bagel (his favorite). Romeo had a collection of toys that went with him everywhere, his favorite being balls, and he would love to chew the squeak part out of them. For dinner each night, Romeo would get his regular dog food with grilled chicken. Romeo was an incredibly intelligent dog, and although he didn’t know exactly what was wrong with him, it was obvious he could tell something was different and would get depressed from time to time. This didn’t stop him from being affectionate and loving, always tapping me with his paw to tell me he loved me and wanted attention. One of Romeo’s most unique qualities was his ability to give “hugs” when asked for them or on his own when he was happy. He would wrap his front paws around your shoulders while smiling and wagging his tail.

Six weeks after surgery, Romeo showed no signs of improvement and was starting to have more bad days than good days. Towards the end, Romeo started to stare off and was not the same happy Romeo that he was even weeks prior when I first took him back to Florida with me. My younger sister and I decided that Romeo had been through too much and the only thing left we could do for him was put him at peace. We decided I would drive to Nashville where she lived so we could both be there for him. Romeo passed at 5pm, Wednesday, June 22nd, after spending a day in the park eating two Five Guys Double Cheeseburgers and playing with his favorite red ball.

Romeo made a huge impact on everyone he met and had a knack for melting people’s hearts. When he was discharged from Cornell, the entire Veterinary staff that cared for him lined up to say goodbye and take pictures with him. When I first got Romeo as a puppy, he slept with me under the blankets on my pillow every night. He was always with me as my little sidekick and partner in crime. While I got ready for work, he would always sneak his toy ball into my purse so I would stay to play with him. To get my attention he would put all his toys in the bath tub and then bark for me to come play with him. More than anything, Romeo loved to run, we used to run laps together in the soccer fields behind my house and go on hikes through the woods. His favorite thing to play with was semi-deflated soccer balls, and he would jump in the air like a shark to grab them mid-flight. Anytime family or friends would visit the house, they would all say Romeo was the best dog ever. I want everyone to remember Romeo as the sweet, energetic, happy fluff ball he was. Romeo will forever be my best friend, and with his passing, there will always be a void in my heart.

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