I have a Bear… and other revelations

Did you know I have a bear?  A real, live, furry bear.  A teddy bear I can hug and hold.  One that interacts with me by following me around, staying where I stay and showing me love with licks of her tongue and throaty whines?  I have had this bear for over 12 years now and yes…. she is my dog.

My bear is a 57 pound German-Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix a friend gave me when she was only 6 months old.  My friend’s vet named her Woogle, at the time, and she was brought in because she was a stray, running around with a wild pack of dogs, sleeping and eating on the streets.  Woogle dragged herself around, literally, because she could not stand except for her front legs.  To this day, we don’t know what happened to Woogle and why she dragged around her back legs.  My friend told me later that the Vet recommended she “put Woogle down” because he said it was hard enough to adopt out a healthy dog but a dog that might have problems later on would be even harder to adopt.  My friend took one look into Woogle’s eyes and saw the life in her and her will to live and she told the Vet she couldn’t do it.  She had to give Woogle a chance.

So, here I am 12 years and 1 month later with Woogle, now named Kaley.  My friend gifted us with her and we took her in shortly after surgery to “fix” her back legs so she could walk, run, and play with the best of them.  Kaley has blessed my husband and I and my dog at the time, Chanelle (a Beagle/Corgi mix) with her love, companionship, loyalty and her goofy, funny demeanor.  But now, sadly, because of a genetic condition called Degenerative Myelopathy, my Kaley will face euthanization this Saturday to return her to peace and much needed joy.

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) has caused my happy, playful, fun-loving, carefree dog to once again drag her back legs around.  They are now fully paralyzed and atrophied.  DM is now working on her right front leg, paralyzing that and lessening her ability to keep her head up.  DM has caused my bear to have an open wound that has healed into a large open bed sore that is patched nightly.  My bear who used to run in the yard and chase after Frisbees and Chanelle now lies around all day on a egg crate pad covered with quilts.  My husband has to carry her out to the yard but most of the time she “does her business” inside unaware that her body is doing so.  Because of DM, my once healthy dog has recently experienced seizures that cause her to jerk her head in unnatural ways and froth at the mouth, water spittle spilling over her chin.

DM seems to attack dogs with different time frames for the disease to take full effect.  Unfortunately for my bear she did not have the elongated 2 + years with DM some owners have had before it started attacking her upper body.  She was only diagnosed two months ago.

I will be holding my bear this Saturday at 9:30am while the 2 injections go into her to take her to heaven, thanking her for all the years she’s blessed my husband and I, reminding her she’s a good girl and always my baby and asking her to be around me, waiting for me to join her on the other side whenever my time may come.  I will be crying tears of sadness as I hold her until her last breath, wanting her to know I am with her until the very end, always her mother and always loving her.

I write this as a reminder to all pet owners that time passes so quickly and for us, the 12 years flew by with her because she was such an awesome dog who didn’t demand a thing.  She just wanted to be loved, cared for, and craved affection.  She was very much a “people dog” always willing to please her owners and be by her owners’ sides when they were down, sad, or in tears, willing to comfort in any way she could even if it was just lying at your feet.

So, take some time today to pat your dog on the head, scratch them behind their ears, say sweet, positive words to them to let them know how loved and cared for they are and above all, enjoy every day with them because you never know when it may be their last.  I know I will be spending lots of time hugging my bear until the last minute of her life on Earth.



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