|Shadow - in better days|
I arrived in
not long after Shadow had turned one. Julie had sent me a few pictures of this
straggly mutt looking through the kitchen window so I knew that as well as
taking some responsibility for a three year old girl and a five year old boy, I
would also have a dog.
Until I turned up at the door, Shadow had been the alpha dog but as soon as I appeared he settled into a lesser role respecting my new position as head of the household. He instantly became my friend, showing me around the terraces where he buried his bones and the carcasses of rabbits he’d caught.
But he was a strange dog. He never chased after a ball and when we went to the river he had to be encouraged to take a swim. First thing in the morning he would wander down to the road at the bottom of the terraces to see all his doggy pals and invariably be led astray by them, ripping open people’s bin bags and coming back proudly holding a stale baguette in his jaws.
If this was a minor problem, it was nothing compared to when we took in a stray husky which we called Harry. Harry immediately decided he was now the alpha male and took to sleeping stretched out on one of the sofas in the lounge, with Shadow copying him by lying in an identical pose on the other sofa, something Shadow had never done in his life before. Destruction then began with Harry ripping things apart, digging up plants in the garden and worse of all, leading Shadow three miles along the busy road into the village where they would run about in the traffic.
After several trips to the dog pound where the police would deposit ‘stray’ dogs, and many euros in fines later, Harry was deposited with a family down the coast and Shadow’s life returned to normal.
It was about three years ago, when Shadow was eleven that the symptoms of his illness first began to show. He became lethargic, never moving from the house except when he needed to ‘go, except when Tan and Angie had a party when he would wander over and enjoy the company of the kids who were playing. His appetite never dimmed but he started to lose hair, he got lesions on his nose and put on weight. The initial diagnosis by our local vet was an under-active thyroid and so Shadow was put on a liquid medication which had to be squirted down his throat three times a day, something which he detested.
|He even loved the cats|
The vet put Shadow on a medication called Allopurinol which is a human medicine used for the treatment of gout and he seemed to improve but as the time passed his legs became more and more infirm and so he was then given another treatment, this time to alleviate the arthritis which most large dogs eventually suffer from.
It was only six months ago when we took Shadow for his latest check-up. By this time, his lesions had gone and he was now quite active, returning to his daily routine of strolling down to see his pals. We were encouraged by this but always with the nagging knowledge that the Liesmaniosis, caused by the infection of sand flies, was always present and could strike at any time.
It was when Julie was in
Kenya earlier this year that Shadow
suddenly went down hill. One day he was fine, the next, the Saturday, he could
not move – his legs had gone. He simply laid in his favourite place in the
lounge and did everything there – and I mean everything! All very distressing
and looking into his eyes, I’m sure he felt he’d lost any semblance of dignity.
On the Sunday, he rallied and I carried him outside so he could ‘do his business’ in the grass and he actually walked around and then back into the house.
On the Monday morning when I awoke, he was in a bad way. I tried to make him as comfortable as possible but then he had what I can only describe as the doggy equivalent of someone having an epileptic fit. It was extremely distressing and I thought that he would not survive but once again he rallied – he seemed to know that Julie and Kitty were returning from
morning and he wanted to hang on.
As soon as I returned from the airport, it was clear to the family that Shadow’s time had come and we lifted him into the jeep for what we all knew would be his last journey. He used to love sitting in the back of the jeep knowing there was some adventure in the offing, but this time, his head was on the carpet with a resigned look in his eyes. Julie laid in the back with him and as we passed David and Sarah’s house where his friend Charlie lived, Julie said Shadow struggled to raise his head to look for his playmate.
|The sadness in his eyes - Shadow was ill|
Shadow was lifted into the surgery and the vet administered a strong anesthetic which apparently relieved him of his final breath within seconds, although a few minutes later his eyes were still looking at me. I’m sure I saw a tear in the eyes of the nurse although I can’t be sure as I was crying my eyes out at the time.
The vet asked if we wanted Shadow’s ashes but when we heard the alternative, his remains being scattered at sea, we chose that and left for a very sad journey home.
A week later, a letter of sympathy arrived from the vet. A nice touch.
We all miss you Shadow.