In the end, it was her being unable to push her hind legs upright last night that finally made it clear it was time. For some days now, she’d been laboring more and more to breathe, and was urinating in the house (more than usual, anyway), all signs she wasn’t well. But when she finally couldn’t get herself off the floor, my heart broke, and I called the vet this morning.
It’s been almost a month now since she was diagnosed with lymphoma, a condition that comes on suddenly in otherwise healthy dogs, and that’s exactly what happened with Marley. I came home from a business trip and found her unwell, with swelling lymph nodes.
She was so sick that it didn’t seem like she would last a couple of days, but a steroid (prednisone) helped her a lot for the past few weeks. She was back to her old bad-dog ways… underfoot in the kitchen, and helping herself to “counter treats”. But even the drug stopped helping her so much in the past few days.
She was an adoptee from the UW Vet School, where she was a lab dog. Basically, she was a research subject for testing drugs, and had the marks on her side to show for it where she’d had biopsies taken over her four years there.
When I adopted her, she was a complete basket case. Every new stimulus was new and frightening, and she would start shivering in fear at the drop of a hat. I remember an early walk that Suz and I took her on. She had her nose to the ground (she always loved smells most of all) smelling all of this new world she was being exposed to. She looked up as we were passing a tricycle sitting idle in someone’s yard. Terrified, she jumped sideways as far as she could away from it, out into the street.
This is one of the earliest pictures I have of Marley, from a camping trip in 2002. She would have been four here, just weeks after I adopted her:
Eventually, she became a mostly normal dog. While she never was one of those dogs who slobbered you with kisses, she did learn to enjoy human attention and companionship. And she never lost her passion for smells, and especially the best way to cram those smells down her hound snout, which is by sticking her head out the car window.
She never barked; I can think of maybe 3 times in 8 years that I heard her bark. However, when prompted, she did love to howl. I just dug up an old video from 2003, the year after we adopted her:
When she first had to put on an e-collar (her first I think when we had her fixed), she was completely frozen by it. By the time of this video, she’d actually figured out how to move a little bit.
And is one of the last photos of Marley, from today:
Good bye, old girl.