Saturday, August 27, 2011

National Dog Day

Well, as usual I am a little late on the post, but I learned from Michelle over at Decor and the Dog, that yesterday was National Dog Day! It was founded by the Animal Miracle Network in 2004, and serves as a reminder of the importance of our furry friends and their roles in our lives.
Sammy is a frequent face around these parts... how can you resist this sweetness eh?
He is a camera lover, that's for sure.

But at one point, James and I were lucky enough to have another dog as well, Cruz.

This picture pretty much exemplifies his personality, always smiling and having fun, handsome little devil, and always up for an adventure. Words can not even express how much we miss him. Before we dive into that, a little backstory...
We take a lot of mini-vacations to the Mt. Hood area to ride our bikes and visit my family. There is a feed store in my hometown that always has free kittens and puppies (danger danger!!!). One day, we were nearby and I suggested that we pop in and just 'look'. Well, as luck would have it, they had a litter of rottweiler/boxer pups. And Cruz came home with us. 

This is the day we got him, he was 6 weeks old. He threw up on my lap in the car. Sammy was smitten with him instantly. It was love at first sight for all of us. 

James and I weren't living together at this time, we were both renting as well, so the doggie shuffle was just a way of life for us. We bent over backwards all the time to make sure Cruz was getting walks, getting outside when he needed it, and getting tons of socialization. 

He always loved kids. He is about 4 months old here...
Time passed, and Cruzie grew SO Fast!!

He would always find random objects on our walks, like this dead sunflower, and carry them until he got bored. One memory that always cracks me up, I was walking him and Sam to the store and he picked up a branch. It kept poking Sam in the face till  he finally frustrated and bit the branch in half. Killed me lol. 

He was a leaner and a groaner, and always slept with his head rested behind James when we rode in the car. He was James' first dog. 

He approached every adventure with a smile on his face.

He had serious hops...

And the most beautiful face ever...

Despite their constant battles over toys, Cruz and Sammy were inseparable, true brothers. 

He loved Sophie as well, and would follow her around and play her little games and let her pull on his face and tail, and never growl or bark, just shower her with kisses instead. 

Nearly a year ago now, Cruz started having problems relieving himself, so we went to the vet to get him checked out. We figured it was just a little bladder infection. He was about 18 months old at this time.

Were we ever wrong. Cancer. 

We opted to have the tumor, which was in his bladder, removed immediately. Chemo was an option after the surgery, which we decided to do. The cancer he had was extremely rare, and it was impossible to remove all the margins of the tumor. But the surgery went well, and we hoped that after a few months of chemo he would beat it and we would all move on with our lives. 

His spirit never sank. His positive outlook on life only grew stronger, which helped James and I soooo much in coping with the situation. 

After 6 rounds of chemo, the cancer seemed to not be spreading. We planned on doing one more round, just to be safe. 

He had a way of looking at a person, which made you feel like he really understood everything that was going on, and he was at peace with it. 
In February of this year, we woke up to him whining and running around the house frantically. It was a saturday, so we had to take him to the emergency vet. It was 3 days before his last chemo was to be done. 

The vet immediately put him on a catheter to drain his bladder and did an ultrasound.
The cancer has erupted in the two weeks since we had last been in and completely cut off his urethra and colon. To do surgery to remove it, they would have had to break his pelvis. 
We didn't know what to do. On the surface, he seemed fine, besides having to wear a catheter. A few days passed, and we spent every moment with him. 

He always loved to snuggle on the couch. We went for walks at his favorite places, and made him steak and eggs to eat. 
On Wednesday, just 3 days after he got dramatically worse, Cruzie left us for heaven. It was by far the hardest thing I have ever been through, same goes for James. Cruz was so peaceful though, no fear at all, even though it was obvious he knew what was going on. The shine was gone from his coat, and that mischievous spark in his eyes was fading. We had no other choice, although in hindsight I will always wonder.

It was two weeks before his second birthday. 

As we drove home from the vet that evening, after saying our last goodbyes, we saw a crazy rainbow prism in the sky. 

There were no other clouds around. I know deep inside me that it was Cruzie sending a message to us, letting us know he was ok and he would always be watching over us. Since then, we have seen another cloud like this, and every rainbow reminds us of him as well. 
We had a beautiful blown glass sphere made with some of his ashes...

We also planted a wildflower garden and mixed in some ashes, in his favorite place to sleep in our backyard. 

Losing a dog, a best friend, a furry child is never easy. The pain has faded some, but all of our memories remain clear as ever. Just yesterday I remembered how he used to dive into grassy places on walks and just lay there, as if to say, 'sorry boss, but I'm done walking for now.' 
We do plan on getting another puppy, but for now we are just happy to have been able to live with Cruz, and to have learned so much from him. 

Miss you buddy, and I'll see you someday at the Rainbow Bridge. I know you'll  be there waiting for us. 

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