Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Canine Companion

After a brief illness, Carmen -- our beloved golden retriever -- succumbed to a heart ailment on Sunday, February 12, just short of her eighth birthday in April.

On Groundhog Day, Carmen collapsed and we rushed her to the nearby animal hospital, where we learned she had an enlarged heart. The vet suggested we take her to the Oregon State University Veterinary School for a more definitive diagnosis, so the whole family jumped into the car and rushed to Corvallis, about an hour drive from Eugene.

After several hours, we learned that Carmen had an inoperable tumor on her heart and that she had a few days to a few weeks to live.

Bad news, to be sure, but I must say that the cardiologist and her staff were wonderful -- very professional and muy sympatico.

For the next week and a half, at least one family member was with Carmen at every moment. Other than having a little less energy than usual, she seemed quite normal. Her ailment did nothing to diminish her appetite, and she was attentive and alert.

We continued to do the things we always do, taking walks at the fairgrounds and enjoying each other's company. Alas, on Sunday, she laid down outside, clearly not feeling well. We rushed her to the emergency clinic, where she died a few hours later.

Someone had commented that we didn't seem to have much luck with dogs. On the contrary, I thought, I've had better luck with dogs than with some people I know. Indeed, the average dog is a nicer person than the average person, and canines are unconditionally loyal.

We had a great run together, and we miss Carmen terribly, but we know she is no longer in pain. She came into our lives when we really needed her love and affection. For that, we will be forever grateful. Good-bye, old friend.

As Darwin said: "it is scarcely possible to doubt that the love of man has become instinctive in the dog." Or this, from an unknown author: "I hope to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am."