Life outside of the blog got in the way over the last few weeks. The hard hit of losing Gus took its toll on all of our family and I just couldn’t drag up the urge to even write an entry here at Work-A-Bull. The words didn’t seem like they could be formed no matter how I tried and I couldn’t seem to focus on anything so I did the best thing I could do – stepped away and let myself heal. Well, it worked and Work-A-Bull is back on track along with a few updates.
Update #1: The Work-A-Bull crew will be moving at the end of September. We finally found “the one” in terms of housing for the family. It isn’t our dream home but it is home and it is perfect for our dogs with a super large yard that is fully fenced in with a six foot privacy fence and per-existing kennels that the current home owner is including (which we will be updating to ones we want shortly after closing). During that time, we may experience some down time online as we get settled but I don’t expect it to be too long as I may end up with blog withdraws over it.
Update #2: We hit a local UKC show last weekend. This show was hosted by the Michigan American Pit Bull Terrier Club in conjunction with the Michigan Gun Dog Club on Friday. Our wonderful boy, Ryker, managed to eek out two Group 1s and four Group 4s for an overall amazing weekend. Puppyface Orion had some practice time learning what UKC showing was about as well and learned that he must stand still for exams – which he thought was pointless because he couldn’t slobber all over the judge. Overall, it was a good show and the first one we’ve been to in months so the dogs all enjoyed their time.
All and all, it’s all coming back. Expect blog entries over the coming weeks and a (hopeful) return of Shelter Dog Saturday. It has been long overdue and I’ll make it with a little pit bull determination and my dearest and most wonderful readers.
It’s hard to believe that just two weeks, three days and four hours ago, I said goodbye to a dog I had barely begun to get to know. It seems like only yesterday an old, crotchety pit bull mix known at the shelter as Pugsley weaseled his hobbling mannerisms and dislike of any dog he couldn’t domineer and push around stole our hearts.
In the ten short months that Gus called our home his, we learned many valuable lessons – like the patience and unconditional love and trust of a dog who hadn’t always had the good life which showed through on the many scars and healed old wounds on his old body. He allowed us to fall truly, madly and deeply in love with his aged soul with utter abandon and his passing three weeks after being diagnosed with lymphosarcoma knocked the wind out of our sails as if we had been blessed to hold him in our hearts for the thirteen odd years he had walked this earth.
Gus was a truly special dog. He was dignified, stubborn, tenacious and all bulldog even when his body began to fail him. He pressed on even on those days where he hurt so badly that even a heavy dose of pain medication couldn’t touch. He always wanted to be the good dog in our house. He strived to always be with us – as close as physically possible – at all times. He was a good dog – even when he was being horridly naughty.
Gus was the heart and soul of what a ‘pit bull’ should be. He loved children and adults of all walks of life. He had never known a stranger and was as polite as a gentleman when he was asked to be – even if he encountered a rude, ill-mannered creature in our daily walks of life. He will always be remembered for what he was and not what the cancer stole from us in those last three, short weeks as a member of our crew. That hole will always be there where he took a piece of our hearts and the hearts of those who knew and loved him with him across the Rainbow Bridge to wait for us and teach those lessons to those who waited along with him until we are able to join him.
There is never ‘goodbye’ in Gus’s world only ‘see you later’ because tomorrow was a new adventure and a new journey on a path that will lead to something amazing.
What turned out as a routine senior exam because Gus wasn’t feeling good has turned our life upside down for the last couple of weeks. Gus has lymphosarcoma. It isn’t slow moving and it is attacking his GI tract pretty nastily. Our vet didn’t have a whole lot of positive to say because of his age and susceptibility to succumbing if we opted to treat our beloved Elderbull with chemo. He said that the kindest option would be management and then helping him cross the bridge when the time came – which could be sooner or later.
How did we find out and confirm our worst fears? Blood work. We had taken him in because his belly was a bit bloated and he didn’t want to eat his meals and was having trouble controlling his bladder. The latter is a common problem in the older dogs but I didn’t want him ending up with issues because he had an accident while we were at work and soiled his blanket in his crate.
The results from his blood work weren’t promising. He has hyper calcemia. He is anemic. His thyroid levels were incredibly low. All of that combined with the added insult, he also had a Urinary Tract Infection – the one thing we worked to prevent with his accidents. The final blow was the lymphosarcoma attacking his GI tract and causing the bloating and unwillingness to eat.
Cancer. It should be a curse word. This vile, vile disease is something that takes far too many loved ones from this Earth and runs rampant through our hearts as they deal and cope with this internal Hell until it is time for them to leave us. We’ve been dealing with it. We’re making our buddy comfortable. We are letting him eat whatever makes him eat and keep strength up. He has been getting to sleep in bed or we’ve been sleeping in the dog beds with him. We have to keep him cool since he gets uncomfortably hot even though he loves to bake in the sun. Whatever it takes for however long he has left with us.
We started a bucket list of things to do with him before he crosses the bridge – a “like” campaign on his Facebook page, Gus the Elderbull, in an effort to create a functioning memory that helps other dogs in shelters and a place for owners of their own elderbulls to come and share their memories, going swimming for the first time with us, eating an Oreo cookie even though they aren’t good for him, spending all night cuddling with us.
It hasn’t been easy. I’ve cried more nights than I care to admit to. My husband has remained stoic but even he can’t hide the pain. We’re having to make a decision that no person wants to make. When is the right time? Are we being selfish by waiting? Is Gus happy? We’re told time and again we’ll know but in my heart, I don’t know. It’s scary. I never expected to lose this beautiful soul in such a short time after we adopted him from the shelter – which is currently at almost two months shy of his September 23rd Gotcha Day. It sucks and it’s something that I could wish on my worst enemy but we will work through it and we’ll make the best of whatever time we have left until Gus lets us know it’s time.
If you had asked me two weeks ago if I had planned to add a new dog to the pack in the very near future I probably would have laughed. I had plans, yes, but they were weeks, months and even years in the future. I wasn’t in the thought process that the future and new dog were only a short time away or in the circumstance in which they happened to happen in.
When I first saw Gus (then Pugsley) and his photo on Facebook, my heart took a flying leap into my throat. Here was this sweet, old pit bull mix staring at me from the depths of my computer screen across the Internet. I cursed at the state he had arrived at the shelter in and wondered how this stately gentleman had ended up bitten to ribbons with sores and cuts all over his body even though I know the streets aren’t kind to any dog, especially an old guy with nubs for most of his teeth. This sweet guy and I would be seeing one another soon as there was no other option because he had landed himself at the very shelter I spend most of my time at. Just my luck, right?
It started off innocently enough. I offered to take this poor guy into the vet. I steeled myself against falling in love pretty successfully until he climbed into my lap as I sat on the floor of the exam room. That final tightening of the love noose came when he laid his greying head on my shoulder and let out a deep, relaxed sigh. I knew that it was the beginning of the end. He had to come home. My…no, our home would and must be his.
The rest of the week (since he came on with a black quick release collar) while he was on stray hold was pure agony. I waited to see if my sweet old man would be returned to his former home…but no one came and part of me was sad. Someone had to be missing him, right? I couldn’t dwell on it. He had served his mandatory seven day hold and was a stray no longer.
Officially available, I collected him from the shelter he had called home. Never again, I vowed, would he want or need for anything. His golden years will be full of love and care for as long as he is with us. He will be loved, cherished and spoiled utterly rotten. He will be able to call a place his forever home.
Happy Gotcha Day, Gus. Here is to many more years in the Work-A-Bull pack.