Saturday, February 09, 2008


What a strange Friday night it was when I came home. My dog Speck did not jump all over me and make a big fuss as she has each and every night for many years. That’s just the way this lovable pup has always been. Lately I have tried to sneak in through the garage door when I came home to see how far I could get into my heavily fortified bunker before she noticed me. It’s a nightly game I liked to play with her.

Speck is getting older (9yrs.) and I have recently been able to sneak in on occasion making it all the way into the kitchen before she was alerted to my presence. Once she sensed me, the big welcome home routine took place where she whines, squeals, jumps three feet in the air, throws herself at me and rolls over begging for a belly rub. She just won’t stop until I love her up and rub her for a while which I am more than happy to do.

Friday night, she just laid in my chair with her eyes barely open waiting for me to come to her. She appeared to have some type of eye infection and could hardly recognize me. What were Thursday night’s big, bright eyes were suddenly bloodshot, squinty, weepy and weak only one day later. Something wasn’t right. Speck was just not herself at all.

One difference between dogs and children is that children can tell you how and where they hurt. They cry and point and tell you what’s wrong. Without any words I could tell that Speck was hurting badly, so plans were made for a visit to the vet first thing in the morning. It was such a helpless feeling to me. What could I do?

When it came time to go out for our 6am Saturday morning walk her eyes looked better but she did not perform her usual acrobatic twisting 3' vertical leaps at the back door when I grabbed for the leash. This was not a good sign at all. Along with Mookie (my 14yr. old retired English setter), the morning walk and doggie business went as usual. Walk...sniff…pee…walk…poop…walk…sniff…and back home again. Once within the warm confines of the country bunker Speck went back into that droopy-eyed lethargic mood.

I could tell this was not a simple eye infection, her eyes told me that there was something seriously wrong. Now was the time for deep concern.

We took her to the vet at 11am. Upon the vet's first observations of Speck she noticed the bloodshot eyes had a yellow cast (jaundice) along with an unusually dry mouth. This led the vet to comment that it could be as simple as an eye infection or as complex as a problem with Speck’s liver such as hepatitis, infection or tumors. Not good. They took Speck away and we nervously waited in the small exam room for over an hour.

After the eye tests, the X-rays and a sonogram the vet came back and gave us the bad news. Speck had infected ovaries, which is a life threatening condition. Then came the really bad news. The vet had discovered some breast tumors. Surgery to remove the ovaries would need to take place immediately to save her life and at the same time the breast tumors would be removed and sent away for testing. There was nothing left for me to do so I went home to wait for news.

Three hours later the vet called and she said that the surgery went well. Speck was awake but needed to stay a day or so on I.V. and to be monitored for after effects. The tumors would be sent for testing and we would know the results Tuesday. Then I asked the Vet if Speck would be with us a while longer and if the tumors were cancerous. She answered yes to both questions. When I hung up the phone I wept uncontrollably and was a total wreck for hours.

Just listen to me, here I am writing as if Speck were gone. She’s not. The vet told me Speck will be with us for a while longer, how long we don’t know. They will have more information for me on Tuesday. But knowing Speck would be home with me again was very good news. I had prepared myself for the worst.

It is so devastating to know you may be losing a pet that you have cared for and have grown to love so much over the years. Speck is the most affectionate house dog I have ever known. She craves attention and we are more than willing to give it to her. Speck is much more obedient than most dogs, always coming when called, heeling, waiting for my commands and very obedient in the field when chasing game. Speck is a spirited high-tailed FDSB registered bird dog that always works close to me and she just loves it so. Speck is much more than a pet to me, she is my best hunting buddy. Hell, I can’t always depend on my human hunting buddy’s to go on a given date or show up or even shoot straight.

I could always depend on Speck at a moment’s notice and she never, ever let me down day in and day out. Each fall we went out hunting so many times together, just the two of us. Each time was so very special to me. We always bagged at least one bird and I cannot remember ever being skunked. I could not have done it without her. It now appears that Speck and I have chased our last game bird together. Forever.

Right now I don’t even feel like eating, much less cooking, writing or taking photographs. My recent back problem is nothing compared to the pain I feel with the thought of possibly losing my very best hunting buddy.

One thing is for sure. The blog sure helps me ease the pain by simply writing this entry and hitting the publish button. It helps me so much I can't put it into words. And I greatly appreciate the opportunity to do so.

UPDATE: I wrote this entry about 5pm this afternoon, The vet called late tonight, about 8pm. Speck is awake, alert and doing well in her kennel. The vet asked that we come over tomorrow morning for a short visit. I will take her a pheasant tail feather bouquet instead of flowers. We may be bringing her home on Monday. This is worth at least a small grin…At least. =)


jti said...

Best of luck, Gerry. We have two dogs and a Keeper of the Underworld (cat). Our girls are like children to us, and I know one day we may have difficult decisions to make. As for the KOTU, well, we may just find her hanging from the rafters one day with a suicide note...

Dan from Madison said...

Wow you have had a tough run the past couple of weeks, hope it ends up for the better.

Annie said...

Glad she's doing better, and hope you get to bring her home soon!

Jonathan said...

Sorry to hear this news.

James R. Rummel said...

I know that she is a good dog.


jim said...

Do you curse out in the Midwest like we're inclined to do out in NYC when we read stuff like this?

If no, then I'll hold off on the f-bombs because this just chewed me up.

Good luck to you and of course the pooch. I hated to read of your sufferings.

Gerry from Valpo said...

Thank you, Jim. Your concern means a lot to me and Speck. And yes, I cursed a blue streak over this.

Anonymous said...

My family has a "lap dog" that is 11 years old and I have a Brittany that is 7. I noticed my Brit has started getting older this winter. He gets to come in the house a lot now and sleeps inside most nights (unless it's really warm out). But still I know the day is coming and not far off when we will no longer go to Winimac to chase Pheasants together. I have a ten year old son and he needs a good bird dog pup to train him. However, I just am finding it hard to admit it's time to think about a replacement for good ol "Chance" my buddy for the last 7 years.

I feel for ya!
Jay Fogle (Greencastle IN)