I got terrible news from a loved one last week, their dog has more cancer. Our four legged friend was diagnosed with stomach cancer two years ago and they have kept THAT at bay with special diet and special feeding tactics and medication. But now a new problem reared its ugly head and what was thought to be a problem on her foot…is actually a tumor. And it’s not possible to operate. The vet said a month. A month. After almost 14 years of unconditional love and devotion we now have a month (maybe) to say goodbye.
Our four legged friend is Wheaton & Daisy’s buddy/cousin Thule. My favourite house guest. Our ranch buddy. My aunt & uncle’s beloved devoted black lab…the love of their lives. Before there was a Daisy there was Thule. The first example of how a dog isn’t “like” your child…but IS your child. There is NOTHING my aunt & uncle won’t do for their dog. Thousands spent on an MRI, expensive ligament reattachment surgery, foods, beds, treats, medications, acupuncture, supplements, etc. You name it. Not only do I dog sit when they go on vacation…but they use to drop her off when they went out for the evening ~ don’t want to leave the dog at home alone. My uncle is retired now but he use to take Thule to work.
On Friday Thule took a turn for the worst. My aunt called me sobbing. She told me I should come see Thule. I went to say my goodbye. I keep putting myself in my aunt’s place, imagining that it was Daisy or Wheaton, and that’s killing me.
When people are losing a loved one we tell them to look back at the memories, take joy in the time you had, celebrate their life. So I will try to make this about my memories of Thule and the fun we had with her and the joy she brought us all.
Oh man she’s a good dog. The typical Lab character, so laid back. Calm and quiet, until she saw another dog while out walking then she’d bark like crazy. She has this deep bark, scary as hell if you didn’t know that she’s really a big softy! All bark. Thule was already 6 months old when my aunt and uncle got her. Out of the puppy phase but still full of energy and play. She just makes you want a dog like her. My grandma was still alive when my aunt got Thule and she absolutely loved Thule. My aunt would take Thule to the nursing home to visit and everybody loved Thule! She never jumped on furniture but for some reason she would jump on my grandma’s bed…my gran thought this was hilarious!
Thule is a bit of a goofball too! If you sat on the floor with her she’d stick her big lab snout in your armpit or your hair….give you a big sniff and a snort! She gives hugs and plops that big lab head right in your lap. She’s super lovable. She ooozes love. My uncle asks her, “Are you my friend?” and she gives him a kiss. Adorable.
Thule was Daisy’s first friend. Daisy loves Thule. In Thule’s younger days she and Daisy played a lot. We went camping with my aunt & uncle quite often and we hiked and kayaked with the dogs. Buddies. But Daisy was always the boss…and even though Thule could have put Daisy in her place, she never once did…she just let Daisy rule.
Thule came to stay with us many times and Daisy was always happy when “the big black dog” came to visit! It must have looked funny when we went for walks, Thule so big and Daisy so small but they trotted along beside each other happy as ever, sniffing and peeing and enjoying the fresh air together.
Wheaton’s first away trip was to “the ranch”, he hadn’t even been with us for a week when we went to house sit for my aunt & uncle. He instantly loved Thule! He followed her around like he had a crush on her. It was so cute. Wherever she went he would get up and follow. If she laid down, he laid down beside her. He just looked at her like she was magic! She has a great calm energy about her. It was good for him! As time went on we had a few extended weekends out at the ranch and watching the three dogs together over the last year has been awesome! Even in Thule’s advanced age and with her health issues, she would have these moments of play where she would engage the “snack dogs” (as my uncle calls them) and they would have a chase and bum wiggle and then all trot along beside each other on the walking path. Mornings with Thule are fun, my uncle gets up at 5am and dogs love routine, so every morning at 5am that big wet snout is in your face…and as soon as you open an eye or move she snorts in your face cause she knows you’re up now, “let’s go”!! My dogs would gladly stay in bed then go for a 5am walk! But nothing is nicer than a sunrise up over the farmer’s field out at the ranch! Anyway, hanging out at the ranch with the dogs…there’s always time for a nap!
I don’t know if dogs need to say goodbye but I have told Daisy & Wheaton what’s happening. My aunt asked me to come on my own, to leave the dogs at home in case they tried to bother Thule in the state that she’s in, I respected her wishes but I wish they could say goodbye. I’m sure they would be able to smell that Thule was sick, to give her space and then maybe understand why Thule won’t be there next time we go to the ranch? I don’t know how it works for dogs.
We humans have had almost 14 years of love with Thule….we want 14 more but it’s not going to be so. She’s going to move on to wherever our animals go in the afterlife. Her Spirit will stay with us, our hearts are full of love. She will leave a void. A Thule shaped hole that will never be filled. We have been lucky to know the unconditional love of this mighty dog.
Play on my friend….I hope there are never ending sticks to fetch and lakes to swim and snow banks to roll in…..we are going to miss you beyond what words will ever express….