Thursday, April 19, 2007

Goodbye, old friend...part II

Man, this has been a sh#tty couple of months for me, I don't mind telling you.

Those who know me know that I have been the proud owner of two Rottweilers: Duchess and Xena. The regulars here know that Duchess died two months ago of kidney failure, and that was a bitter pill for me to swallow. Well, bitter pill #2 was swallowed today.

My loyal friend Xena was born in November of 1998. I bought her from an auto mechanic in Jacksonville in March of 1999 when she weighed a mere 13 lbs. at 13 weeks of age.

Xena never perfected the art of playing fetch, but she did like snatching the ball from Duchess after Duchess did the grunt work of going to retrieve it. Xena loved car rides, and it didn't matter what kind of vehicle you wanted to take her in: car, van, SUV, Yugo, whatever. As with Duchess, Xena loved everyone, man, and child...defying the media-fed stereotypes of the Rottweiler as a devil dog. The mailman loved her. The neighborhood kids loved her. Hell, everyone did.

Xena was a mild-mannered, timid, obedient dog who knew several commands: sit, down, come here, paw, speak, and "crate" (she slept in a dog crate), as well as a couple of tricks like "Bang" (she'd drop on her back and throw her paws up in the air, like she was dead) and "high five" (she'd throw her paw up high to touch your palm). She loved chasing squirrels, especially along the fence. She had the dubious distinction of getting her #ss kicked by a near-toothless poodle in Tallahassee in 2001.

Xena was incredibly affectionate. She loved howling at sirens, or howling at me whenever I would wail like a siren. She had an incredible amount of energy, from puppyhood through last week. She still acted like a puppy, the big goof.

Xena lived a full life, experiencing much love and happiness. I was blessed enough to have had her as my dog. But all good things must come to an end, and as a result of a rapid onset of lymphoma, Xena's dignity needed to be preserved. I consulted with the vet to see what the options were, and they were few and unpromising: doggy chemotherapy, an expensive procedure which might buy a year or two (and quality of life wasn't guaranteed); do nothing, in which case she would die painfully and slowly over a 2 - 4 week period; or put her to sleep. She was euthanized today, ending her suffering but exacerbating mine. However, as with Duchess, I loved that dog too much to keep her alive for my selfish reasons.

I asked the vet if there was a possibility that the dogs were exposed to something in their environment that may have contributed to their deaths. She answered "No, because lymphoma is more of a genetic disease, with no proof to any environmental contributors. Duchess' kidney failure is something seen in a lot of old Rotties. Your dogs didn't die of anything in the environment...they died of old age." Yeah, but only two months apart? "Well, that's just crappy luck on your part." Definitely an understatement.

Rest in peace, Xena. I thank God for the wonderful memories you left me. Suffer no more, my friend, and go get that squirrel!

Xena: November 1998 - April 2007