There are times when I wonder what makes a house (or condo) a home.
Of course, it's the things I surround myself, the things I love and things that are special to me. But I am a dog owner, a lover of all things canine, and my condo was made a home by my loving companions.
For me, it's Murphy, my West Highland terrier, and Joey, a cairn terrier who thinks he is a clown. I love them both, but Murphy is, or was, my special girl.
Murphy died Tuesday, April 24. She was eight days short of her 13th birthday.
Murphy had been ailing for a long time. Some six years ago she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and she had surgery to remove the tumour, followed by six rounds of chemo therapy (and yes, she lost her hair; she looked like a white sausage). It seemed to be successful, but a short year later the tumour reappeared. In consultation with a wonderful veterinarian, Dr. Alan Norris at the Veterinary Emergency Hospital near Yonge and Bloor, we decided not to peruse any further treatment (chemo or radiation). She would live out her life with as much quality as I could possibly give her.
Her tumour grew (I laughingly called it her goitre as it grew to the size of a tennis ball), but it didn't seem to stop her. She ate, and walked (oh boy, she loved her walks), she played and she gave Joey heck whenever he annoyed her, which was just about 100 per cent of the time.
But her health was always a concern, and I was alway anxious about her.
Murphy and I had a special bond, which, if you are not a pet owner, you may not understand. But the two of us knew what each other were thinking – all we had to do was look in each other's eyes.
Murphy's health took a turn for the worse earlier this year. I believe she had bladder cancer.
In late March, she started peeing blood – a lot of it. Tests didn't show any sign of infection, and antibiotics didn't help. And then she passed blood clots. A lot of them. I worried, but Murphy didn't seem to be in any pain, and she still loved her walks and was eating like crazy (the thyroid tumour meant she needed lots of calories).
I knew the end was coming, she was getting older, but I was putting off making the decision. “She's not in pain,” I kept telling myself, “and she still loves her walks and her dinner.”
But on Monday, April 23 I came home from work and found her on the sofa, shaking in pain. I called the vet. The decision was made. I would not let her live in pain.
The next morning, my friend, Helen, and I took Murphy (who was loaded up with children's Advil) for a walk ... off her leash. She loved that! What a special treat! And then I feed her miles of liver! She loved that, too!
And then we went to the vet's office, where she happily chased the office's bunny rabbit around ... always a terrier!
I know my gorgeous little girl was ready to go. She had had enough. Her eyes – and her body – were tired.
It was a difficult day, and then wonderful friends sent me the “Rainbow Bridge Poem.” It got me through the night.
THE RAINBOW BRIDGE:
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to the Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.