Tresse Mae

For those of you that aren’t able to read a sad story about a pet, then this is definately a post to skip. (This means you, Meggers, I would hate for you to be upset while you’re pregnant.)

March 22,1993 – July 28, 2006

I was 15 years old when she came into my life, but before I say how she came to be apart of my family, let me tell you what I had to do to get her. Quite a few of my neighbors had dogs, you see, but I’d always had cats. I loved them, but they would always get all pissy when I would try to put them in a harness and leash. They just weren’t the outside types, at least not when I had them in any sort of constraint. So to prove my seriousness about wanting a dog I would go to my neighbors’ houses and ask to walk their dogs. There were quite a few, as I said before, so it was no easy task to be the neighborhood dog walker. Anyway, after some time passed and I didn’t get bored with it my neighbors started approaching my mom and saying, “You should get her a dog; she’s so good with [insert dog name here].” So, with my neighbors, my siblings, and me all working on my mom, she gave in and said we could get a dog, but only if it was a golden retriever. My evil plan had worked.

My sister Kim, her boyfriend Guy (yeah, that’s his name), my nephew Derek and I all went out to a farm to pick out a pup. Believe it or not, my first pick wasn’t my Tresse. I’d had my eyes set on one of her sisters, but the moment she wiggled over to my sister’s boyfriend instead of me, she was dead to me and I had to pick another. Tresse was sound asleep on their sofa and she was the lightest of the bunch, different is always good to me, so we took her home.

Enter Tresse. She was named after my dad’s first dog, a rusty colored great dane. Her middle name was Mae, after my “goody” grandma (my dad’s mom, because she always gave me goodies.). After she had her name for a while I realized it was horribly close to Tresemme, the shampoo, and so I would sing that to her on a regular basis (because I’m weird like that). I think she liked it, though. She was a good puppy, even though she peed all over the kitchen a quadzillion times, she eventually just puppy-dog-tail-wiggled into our hearts.

Upon bringing her home we soon discovered her devious side. She chewed clear through the baby gate we bought to keep her contained on the tile of the kitchen (so we didn’t have to clean carpets!), and found her bag of dog food and proceeded to eat it until she vomited…then ate some more. She pooped in her cage and then ate it, pee’ed when anyone got her really excited and absolutely loved biting the snot out of Derek whenever he would get down on her level (as seen in the picture above). She blended right in.

As a young adult dog she never lost that mischievous streak and we soon found her absolutely uncontrollable. We signed her up for doggy obedience school, which she spent the first 15 minutes of (every session) barking non-stop. On walks she would find the biggest stick she could possibly get into her mouth, which sometimes meant a tree branch, and would lug it along the entire walk. This sometimes made it impossible for people trying to walk by us, but it made me laugh. If it wasn’t some stick or branch in her mouth, it was the leash, and so she always looked as though she were walking me. If I jumped on my bed she would run down the steps, around the living room and then back up, and if I was still jumping when she got back she would run the same cycle again. When my mom got remarried she was an excellent tool for pissing Bob off. You see, he’s never been able to deal with noisiness of any kind, so getting my Tresse all wound up would get him in a snit and make me happy. She never stopped being a barker, and I always loved that about her. A big barker makes a girl feel a lot more safe when she’s home alone.

When Tresse has had enough of you she will make it quite clear. She would venture down into the basement where her cage had been placed and go in and close the door behind her. Now if she’s really misbehaved she’s more than ready to take her “punishment” (even though we’ve never been the kind to hit). She had a horrible habit of taking anything in my bathroom trash can and ripping it into itty bitty shreds. Most of the time it was when we were all out and about and she was at home alone. She hated being home alone. Well, if I would call her in the direction of the trash can she would lie down and refuse to come. That’s when you’d have to go and hunt down the mess to be angry at her about. Every little quirk she has is so funny to us, even the bad quirks.

Some of what made us all love Tresse:

She has to walk the length of her poop spot on the curb, not touching the grass, until she finds the right spot. It seems like the only thing she chews is uncooked pasta (which sounds like she’s crunching bones). If she begs and it goes unnoticed she’ll make a hacking noise or a great big sigh and sometimes the looong strings of drool will dangle. She’ll only visit me upstairs in my room because she knows I have a little container of treats I keep fully stocked just for the occasion. She’s afraid of the dark, thunderstorms, and the cat. She makes sneezy noises when you get the cough syrup out, and wrinkles her nose if she catches a sniff of nail polish remover. She’ll whine like a wookiee if she thinks the cat is getting attention when she should be (which is always). If you say “outside?” she’ll tilt her head at you curiously. She looooooooves babies. She loves to lick them and she adored Elek, my best friend’s first son. If Elek cried she would make a “drive by licking” so he’d stop. If you’re sick she’ll be by your side every moment of the day. If you’re not sick she’ll be your quiet shadow until you look her way, and then she’ll wag her tail. If you coo at her in soft tones and pet her head she’ll fall asleep. She loves to tug hair bands out of your hair while you’re on the ground. She’ll do “doggy carwash” until you can’t take it anymore (which is when she goes through your legs over and over). She loves the landscapers, especially Paige. If Paige is there to pet her she’s in heaven. Paige will wiggle in the grass with her, and as soon as she sees Paige she’ll fall over wiggling. She ate her birthday cupcake in one bite and nearly took Keith’s thumb off to get to it.

As she got older she developed arthritis, as a lot of goldens do, and she slowed down. She slept more, she barked more, and her eyesight got worse. We called her our “grumpy old lady” because if any other dog (or human, or rodent) was in her view, they were in her territory and she had to bark until we went insane. She also became cuddlier, more loving, and lumpier. Last summer we noticed a small grape sized lump on her side that we’d never felt before. It didn’t seem to bother her, but it bothered me. As fall came around it had grown into the size of a golf ball and I made a vet appointment. Our vet said she’s old, put a doggy sweater on her and call it an imperfection. It was hard to leave it alone, but we had to take her age into account. Twelve years old isn’t young for a bigger dog. We soon noticed other lumps that didn’t seem to be as pronounced as her golf ball lump and we consulted our vet who said she’s old, slap a sweater on her and nickname her lumpy. So, our little miss oatmeal continued to develop what we now know is cancer. Around February her golf ball grew into a grapefruit and I took her in so it could be removed. She came out of her surgery like a champion, and recovered more quickly than anyone imagined she would… but not me, she’s my little fighter. There were drainage tubes to clean, and dressings to change, and she never once gave any flinch of a clue that she was in pain. Golden Retrievers are notorious for taking pain and not complaining, my baby was no different.

We knew her time wasn’t going to go on forever, but when she’s here it just seems like there won’t be an end. Saturday (the 22nd) around midnight my mom came up to my room to tell me she was scared that something was wrong with Tresse, she wouldn’t lay her head down. I went downstairs as fast as my feet would take me and she had her nose up like she was trying to keep her nose out of water. The truth is she was drowning. She had so much fluid in her lungs she shouldn’t have been able to move. She couldn’t get up on the love seat (her usual snoozing spot) and it scared me half to death. I called our vet, and then called another, who referred us to an emergency clinic. She was panting and looked so miserable and I felt so helpless to do anything. I helped her into the Jeep and off I toted her (and my hysterical mother) to the clinic. The x-rays showed her entire body full of fluid. Her lungs had less than 10% capacity and there was so much fluid throughout her that there was no way they could even see her heart, much less hear it through all that. That’s when we heard the horrible news.

congestive heart failure
n.
A condition marked by weakness, edema (an excessive accumulation of serous fluid in tissue spaces or a body cavity), and shortness of breath that is caused by the inability of the heart to maintain adequate blood circulation in the peripheral tissues and the lungs.

They gave us Lasix, which I explained in an earlier post but I’ll explain it better now. Lasix is in a class of drugs called loop diuretics (water pills). It decreases the amount of fluid in the body by increasing the amount of salt and water lost in the urine. It’s used to reduce swelling in the body caused by congestive heart failure, liver disease, or kidney disease. Basically we had to dehydrate her so that her lungs would empty out and she could breathe better. They also pulled a half a liter of fluid from in and around her lungs. The next day she was very quiet and so calm it was eerie. Instead of grabbing food out of your hand and nearly taking your finger with it, she was going for it gingerly and actually chewing. I was so heavy hearted that she was sick, that the day with my brother and his family was lightening fast, and I felt numb.

Tuesday, since our vet was out of town, we went to the clinic her office referred us to and sat nervously as the vet took her sweet time getting in to see us (as vets usually do). My dog was shaking like a leaf, but she seemed like herself, and so we thought the worst was over and that we’d have her for a little while longer. The little voice in the back of my head was telling me that I was being foolish to hope like that, but I did it anyway. We had to leave her there, even though I hated to, so she could get more x-rays and, if need be, a sonogram of her heart. About three hours later, I called the office to see what was up.

“We took some x-rays but they didn’t show us what we wanted to see. It’s still hard to see her heart, but the fluid has drained from her lungs. One of the things we’re trying to out rule is if she has a hernia, which would draw organs and her intestines in towards her heart, making it hard to pump like it should. We also need to rule out if there’s any tumor growth on the heart. Our technician who does this for us will be here until 9pm, it could be as late as that.”

Ok, I thought, it’s not a death sentence. She’ll be ok. It’ll be something easily fixed. All I wanted was my puppy back home. The rest of the day I had to keep myself occupied, so I’d stop thinking. When you’re upset it’s like thinking about it is your worst enemy, and I know that doesn’t really make sense, but it’s the only way I can explain the haze of thoughts I had that day.

Around an hour later we got another call, the vet again.

“We did the sonogram of Tresse’s heart, and from what we can diagnose, and we’re 99.9 % positive, there’s a tumor on her heart.”

My whole body went numb. “Ok.”

“It’s leaking blood into the sack around her heart, which is making it hard for the heart to pump the way it should, and making fluid back up into her lungs. We can do a surgery, we’d have to get a board certified doctor, to cut a large window into the sack so the blood can drain and be absorbed back into the body. Then we’d have about a 5 minute window to cut the tumor out and close the heart back up.”

I could barely breathe. “Ok.”

“The surgery will likely cost around $1000+. Then we’d put her on extensive chemotherapy afterwards, which could cost up to $2000. We have a couple vets willing to do the surgery for less, because we’ve never done it before …”

I stumbled down the steps and my mom saw my ashen face and said, “What?” so loud I had to wave my hand at her to be quiet.

“…if money is a problem, I mean.”

I put a hand to my forehead and nodded as if she could hear that.

“Are you still there?”

I was so coldly calm I scared myself. “Yes, but I’ll have to have a little while to absorb all of this. When can I pick up my dog?” I had to be strong for my mom because she was going to break down.

“I understand, how about 8 o’clock?”

I glanced at the clock, 2 hours? That’s so far away… I’m wasting time! “Fine.” And we hung up.

The moment I opened my mouth to explain, I started sobbing. I cried so hard and uncontrollably that I could barely talk. I got out bits and pieces of everything to my mom and then I numbly drug myself up the steps to lie in my bed and cry alone. I cried myself to sleep and woke up as the phone rang. It was one of the receptionists, “If you want to come get Tresse the vet said you could anytime.” I glanced at the clock, it was 7:30. Why the heck did they wait so long to tell me “anytime”? I hung up with her and we headed out to the clinic. It was the longest 10 minute drive I’ve ever had, or at least that I can remember right now. We waited forever, and the vet made us go through what she wanted to do again.

“I’m not putting her through that.” Is all I could think to say in my anger. I just wanted my dog, where the hell was she? It made me antsy. “What would you do?” My mom asked her. The vet looked pained, I’m sure no doctor likes to be asked that sort of question. I couldn’t let her flounder forever, “Mom, it doesn’t matter what she’d do because we’ve already decided not to put her through this.” My mom broke down and sobbed in front of the vet, which made me cry too, and the vet made a quick exit stage left with my mom words of, “She’s a proud dog, she doesn’t need to be shaven so much.” I remember looking at her oddly then. Clearly she was upset, but the proud dog thing was just weird. It’s weird what you remember when the situation has passed.

We decided then that we wanted a few more days with her before we let her go. My precious puppy, who has been my furry little baby for 13 years, has to leave me.

She has slept with my mom since they’ve been home from Florida (in May), and since the news she’s been coming up to my room to visit me if she knows I’m up. She’s always done this, but it’s more special to me now. I give her a treat, some water, and we talk for a little (which consists of “you’re such a good puppy!” and “I love you.”) before I take her back down to sleep next to my mom. It breaks my heart when she watches me leave so intently like, “Where are you going?” but I’d rather she be with my mom, who will wonder where she is if she’s not there…even though I need her too.

Yesterday she couldn’t keep anything down, not even water, and at 3am when she threw up it a very dark brown color. I called the clinic today because all I could see was my poor puppy suffering. She wasn’t Tresse anymore; she was a very weak version of what I will always love. Her vet asked us to bring her back in and when we did and she recommended more medication I’d had enough. The slow stab of agony that’s been plunging through my heart had to be over with. She took Tresse to go get blood work and I scowled at my mom. “I thought you didn’t want to put her through this anymore, mom? So now she’s going to be on 12 different medications just so we can be selfish and hang on to her a little bit longer? I personally don’t want to see her like this, especially when she’s clearly suffering.” She finally agreed and I called the vet back in.

The whole experience was something that’s been laser printed into my brain. It was a large amount of a pink liquid; they laid her down and shaved a very small spot on her hind leg to expose a vein. Tresse tensed as the needle went in, and I didn’t cry at all until I could see her start to relax, and then I sobbed. It was very fast, and she’s in no pain now. We’re going to have her cremated and save the ashes.

I love you, Tresse, and I’ll never forget you. You’ll always be in my heart, and you’ll always be my poopy puppy.