Sunday, August 07, 2011

A Long Overdue Ode to Howdy

January 10, 1998 - June 16, 2011

We lost a very dear friend in June.  Our beloved Howdy, also know as, Howdy Dog, Howdy-Howds.

Howdy was one of the best dogs I've ever had the pleasure to share a home with.  He arrived in our lives in the Spring of 1998 along with his sister Tobie.  They spent the first four months of their lives in Weatherford, Texas, with lots of room to roam and lots of other collies.  When we brought them home, they did not know how to go up and down stairs and we lived in a 3rd floor apartment.  They had never walked on a side walk or street and their poor little paws did not like it.  They quickly became such a big part of our lives.

From the beginning Howdy was such a laid-back, easy-going dog.  We joked about him not being the most intelligent dog, but I'm not sure that is true.  I think Howdy was always very content.  He was happiest to just be in the room with you.  He did not demand a lot of attention, he just liked being near his people.

Howdy was always very well behaved.  He wasn't one to chew on things, or get in trashcans or litter boxes.  He didn't try to get on the furniture.  He was a very good listener and always aimed to please.  We always described Howdy's personality as "Doh-de-doh-de-doh."

When someone would sneeze, Howdy would immediately come check on that person.  I don't know what he thought sneezes were, but they concerned him, greatly.   He had to get in your face and make sure you were OK. 

Howdy loved to play in the water.  He loved to curl up with his sister Tobie to sleep.  He loved to run laps in the yard while chasing his sister.

Howdy hated the vet.  For as laid-back as he was at home he was completely opposite at the vet.  He would go willingly but he did not want to be messed with at all!  He would not even cooperate for weighing.  He would not let them take blood, much less do anything more invasive.  It got to be a vicious circle of needing to do testing on him, but not being able to with out sedating him.  But he couldn't be sedated with out testing.  Yeah, confusing with no good solution.

Howdy had an ulcer when he was six or so.  We just happened to find it when doing routine testing as part of something else, though I don't even remember what the something else was now.

At eight and a half Howdy's gall bladder burst and we weren't sure if he would survive surgery.  Luckily, he did.  And had almost five more years with us.

In the last three to four years of his life, Howdy had severe arthritis in his hips and later in his neck.  He was on multiple medications multiple times a day for it.  The medication provided some pain relief but of course could not reverse the damage from the arthritis.  For the last two years of his life, Howdy was not able to climb the stairs in our house.  This was very hard on all of us as Howdy and Tobie had always slept in our room.

Baron (front) and Howdy (back) taking a nap together
After Tobie passed away, Howdy started losing weight.  No matter what we did, or offered him to eat, or how much he ate, he kept losing weight.  He also got very depressed and started pacing the house.  We realized that he was missing doggie companionship and decided it was in his best interest to adopt another dog, Baron.

Overall, Howdy and Baron got along well.  Howdy was definitely happier once he arrived.  Well, accept for when Baron would try to get Howdy to play with him.  Howdy wasn't able to play chase or tag and sometimes got annoyed with Baron for trying to play.  Honestly, I don't blame him as sometimes Baron would accidentally knock Howdy down trying to get him to play.

Howdy was always doing his best to please his people and loved being near them.  Even in the last year of life when standing was difficult and painful for Howdy, he would always follow me around in the kitchen with his head pressed up against my knee.  It was frustrating at times as it made it hard to cook, or I would trip over him.  But I miss that sweet boy when I cook these days.

In the last six months to a year, Howdy lost most of his hearing, his eye sight was not great, his mobility was limited and he would at times get confused.  Even with all of the decline he was still feisty at the vet.  In fact, just a few months before his death, it took three vet techs to clip his nails!  This was the dog that could only stand if moving and who fell over easily.  But he still hated having his feet touched and being messed with at the vet. 

It was very hard to come to the decision that it was Howdy's time to go to Dog Heaven.  His decline was so gradual but unfortunately continual.   As he declined, we kept doing new things to ensure his comfort and quality of life, but eventually we got to the place that there was no more we could do to achieve these goals.

Making the choice was so difficult.  Leaving with Howdy for his final vet appointment was very hard on our whole family.  That day, on the way to the vet, he stood and looked out of the back window of the van, something he had not done in years.  It took at least three people to place his final IV, because he still didn't like to be messed with.

But once we got to the vet and got everything ready, it wasn't hard.  It wasn't hard because it was the right choice at the right time for the right reasons.  I felt privileged to spend those last minutes with Howdy, hugging him and telling him how much we all loved him and that it was OK to go.  I walked out of the vet's office knowing we, as a family, had been good to Howdy, all the way to the end.  Knowing we would miss him, but have no regrets about the life he had lived and our parts in that life.

Howdy Dog, we still miss you.  You will always hold a special place in our hearts.  Thank you for being such a loyal and loving part of our family.


PS. More Howdy stories from the blog can be found here.

PPS. I planned to write this in June.  Actually I started it then.  Unfortunately, our laptop with all the pictures I took of Howdy in the last week of his life got dropped before I got the post written or the pictures backed up.  The laptop has been in the shop to see if it could be repaired or information off the hard drive retrieved.  I've been waiting to write this hoping that the pictures could be recovered.  I've given up hope and decided it was time to write this with or without the pictures.


Phyllis said...

Beautiful tribute as you always do. Pets are very fortunate to have you for a "Mommy".

Proud of you.

Shelly said...

Dang it, you made me cry. And I don't even like dogs. Sounds like Howdy was one special dog!