Greatest Love of All ❤
I was on my way to my boyfriend’s house, as I jumped into my car I noticed a tan bundle of fur scurrying to join me on the driver side. Here he was, this cute and charming nine-pound rat look alike with the biggest butterfly looking ears I had ever seen. All I could do was laugh and marvel at how adorable this creature was. Hustling as hard as he could, the little dog climbed into my car and into my heart. Just like that.
My parents had mentioned him to me in the past; he lived a couple houses over from ours, and it was apparent he was not taken care of or fed very well because he had been sneaking into the yard to eat our outdoor cat’s food.
My boyfriend and I decided he’d stay with him and his roommates. Everyone seemed to like him and we agreed his name was going to be Master Splinter. Well, his stay there didn’t last long because Splinter decided to mark his territory all over the roommate’s bed. The roommate was outraged and wanted him gone. When I think back now, I realize that this was Splinter’s way of choosing me to be his primary caregiver.
Shortly after he found me, I took him to the veterinarian for a check-up. He ended up having to get seven rotting teeth extracted. He was about four years old and was a mix between Chihuahua and Papillon — hence the butterfly ears. This was also when the vet told me he had Congestive Heart Failure. He was immediately put on medication.
Before Splinter, I had not been the most responsible person. Thinking of only myself, I guess I was a typical young and carefree 23-year-old. But things took a turn for the better after he came into my life.
During the following six and a half years, we moved around a few times. I was going through a lonely time in my life and he was the only stability I had. At one point we moved to Los Angeles with my boyfriend. At the time my boyfriend was traveling a lot for work, I didn’t know a soul, but I had my best friend next to me to cheer me up and take for long walks at Griffith Park, Echo Park, Silverlake and the beach.
The first time he collapsed I had just arrived home from work. Like clockwork, he would greet me with the utmost bouncy excitement and then he would typically begin to cough. Coughing had always been something he did which was caused by the CHF, but as the years went by his cough had become more frequent. This time, he didn’t stop until he suddenly lost control of his muscles and collapsed due to a lack of oxygen. I was extremely shaken and distraught. The first thing I did was to immediately call the vet. She advised me to increase one of his medications.
The change in dosage really improved his state for a while.
Knowing that he was sick and in need of his medication, I began to see him more as a mother sees her child. I knew that he depended on me. Our bond grew strong. He made me feel content even when I wasn’t the happiest. His mere presence would bring me ease and comfort having suffered from anxiety. I always made an effort to cheer up around him because I had heard that dogs sense human energy and I didn’t want him to feel anything other than comfortable and happy.
As most of us do in our 20’s, I experienced many life lessons through those years. Splinter helped me live in the moment because I was reminded every day by his physical state that all good things come to an end. Sharing the quiet moments with him brought me fulfillment and companionship. If I had a bad day, knowing that he’d be home waiting for me made it all better. Nothing mattered because I could go home and cuddle with him and all the negativity would vanish.
About two weeks before my 30th birthday, one morning Splinter and I woke up. Just as we were about to walk out the bedroom door, he suddenly collapsed. Considering he had experienced those before, I wasn’t too alarmed.
It happened again first thing the following morning. At this point, I was full of anxiety and afraid that something was seriously wrong. He had never collapsed twice in less than two days so I was worried sick. He wasn’t eating and I noticed his gums had turned pale. My first instinct was to take him to the emergency room where I thought they’d just give him oxygen. Once there they wanted to charge me more than I could afford to run tests before anything could be done.
I still don’t accept this, but we felt that there was nothing we could do at that moment, so we went home. He did not show any improvement over the weekend. I grew restless. I waited for Monday to come around to take him to the vet. I started to get my hopes up a little that morning, hoping for the best, but deep inside I was simply heartbroken.
The vet compared the routine blood work he had received a month earlier to the blood work they ran that morning and his numbers had drastically changed. The medication that had been prescribed for his CHF had caused kidney failure. He said nothing else could be done. He hadn’t eaten in four days; I could have brought him home, spent a little more time with him, but he was only going to get worse.
As hard as it was to make that decision, I knew that I couldn’t bear to see him suffer.
I tried so hard to fight back the tears for I did not want him to be scared as I held him on my lap one last time. He spent his last moments in my arms and I knew that’s all he wanted. As I looked into his calm, loving eyes, I too tried to let my pain leave with his last breath as he went peacefully.
It has been over a month and I know that I’ll be crying for a long time. I’ve read many blogs, many stories and everyone that has loved as much and lost agrees on one thing; the pain never goes away it just becomes easier. I have many pictures that remind me of the good times we had and if I had never brought him into my life he, most likely wouldn’t have lived as long as he did. That helps me cope. We changed each other’s lives. And I will forever be grateful for that unconditional love we shared.