On September 29th, 2017 at 2:36pm, I lost my oldest and dearest friend. I call her a friend, because that’s what she was, the closest friend who knew all my troubles and secrets and didn’t judge me at all for them. She showed unconditional love through the hardest of times. I am so glad to say that I always showed that same unconditional love in return. Gabby was more than just my pet, she was my snuggle buddy when it was cold, we snored together, played together, ate together, and raised many other animals together too. She was the best friend I could have ever asked for in life. I will attempt to tell the story of her life in the fewest words possible, but I have a tendency to ramble. I guess that is a good thing I’m doing this on my own blog then huh?
I got Gabby my first semester senior year of high school in 2003. If I remember correctly, it was close to Christmas. She was given to us for free by a family member. Their in-laws parents had two Shih Tzus that had puppies. There were only a few left, and she was the runt of the litter. She was eaten up with fleas, and had a skin condition. That is why she was picked, because she was going to have the best life possible from there on out.
We quickly got the flea problems taken care of, and the skin condition remained through her whole life, of which was filled with plenty of soothing oatmeal baths that she didn’t particularly like, but boy did she love the hair dryer that came afterwards. She would hold her head high, and turn in model like poses while you were blowing her beautiful black and white coat back to is soft fluffy texture. She loved that part. I eventually moved out of the house a few years later, and I wanted to take Gabby with me, but my mother and her were firmly attached to each other also. I visited all the time, and we even had her a backpack made up with toys, food, treats, leash, harness, and potty pads for us to share her joint custody style. She would come spend the weekend with me and just be lazy with me. She was the best lap dog there ever could be. She also had this problem with her bark since she was a puppy. I guess it was where she was the runt and her vocal chords didn’t form properly? She sounded more like a toy dog that’s bark was running low on batteries. It was soft and distinct, and didnt change in pitch much. She never whined, ever, although she did snore with the best of us. She also had this thing she would do anytime anybody was eating. She could sit on her butt, straight up like a human, and balance for however long she wanted, without falter. I saw her sit like that, while eating scraps handed to her, without dropping to her feet, for many entire Thanksgiving dinners. She really was one of a kind.
She was raised by my mother’s dogs Prissy (a boston terrier mix), and Nick (a Cocker Spaniel Dachshund mix) who were like mothers to her. They got on to her when she misbehaved, played with her relentlessly, and snuggled up with her at night. She loved those two, and was just as heart-broken as anyone else in the family when they passed on. That is where Gert came in.
My fiance, at the time, and I drove a few counties away to get Gert, a full-blooded, black and white, nub tailed, Boston Terrier puppy at 8 weeks old. She was so scared the first night we brought her to my mom for her birthday. She stayed right against Gabby, and Gabby, being raised by the two pets that she was, showed her the same affection she was shown when she was a baby. For the rest of her life, Gabby would let Gert lay right against her, every night, sick or not, aggravated or not, and even when there was hardly any room on the edge of that Great Dane sized dog bed. Gert really and truly loved her. Gabby, regardless of Gert’s teasing her with high energy and playfulness, loved her also.
Eventually Gabby started showing signs of a small cyst, or tumor on her breast. She never had puppies, but we never fixed her either in hopes we would find another Shih Tzu she would tolerate enough to love and have puppies with. That never happened, and knowing what we know now, we would’ve had her fixed as soon as we knew that it could lead to cancer. We didn’t know it was cancer at the time and for the longest because it was very small, not painful, and seemed more like a cyst. She never acted sick. This was years and years ago. Then one day, not too long ago, it started growing. It got to be the size of a baseball and then ruptured. My mother didn’t know it ruptured because, as I said, Gabby never cried out about anything. She was very strong. The vet said it had to only be a day or so before my mom noticed the hole, when she brought Gabby in to see them. They surgically removed the tumor and asked if we wanted to do a scan to see if there was any more that had spread. We did, and soon found out that her lungs were filled with it, and she was in heart failure. Being as old as she was, we knew her heart couldn’t hold out forever, but the cancer in her lungs was a shock to us all. She just never cried. I guess she didn’t want anyone to worry over her? She wanted things to remain the same as they always had.
She recovered pretty well from the surgery. It took a little while, but she healed up nicely, but was beginning to struggle to breathe here and there. That eventually turned into lower energy and after many trips to the vet for different dosages of steroid and water pills, she started losing the ability to stand on all fours for long periods of time. That turned to not wanting to eat and stay hydrated enough. We threw caution to the wind and started feeding her the favorite human foods that she loved dearly. We knew what was coming soon, and wanted her to enjoy those chicken nuggets, and fries more than any others she had ever had. She ate very well when she still had the energy before the end. My mother had been sending me videos of her progress, and then decline, in between trips down to see her. She eventually lost the ability to stand for more than a few seconds, and the ability to get up to potty. She would walk out onto my mother’s covered and screened deck to overlook the river, and it took all she had to get out there. She loved to watch everything going on out there, even though she couldn’t get to it anymore.
Yesterday, my mother texted me after running her to an unplanned trip to the vet. She had been up all night. Just sitting and staring at my mom whenever she would wake up. My mom would lay her back down in the bed, and she would be up staring at her again when she awoke to check on her. She had actually started letting out cries when mom would give her the steroid or water pills and wouldn’t eat, and barely drank anything. She knew it was bad. The text, which I can’t remember the exact wording, was along the lines of “Gabby has to be put to sleep. I told them I couldn’t do it right this minute, she needs to see you and im bringing her by your work”. I replied back that I was going back with her at 2:30 and was not going to let her die without me there by her side. She had helped me through so many hard and sad times, that I owed it all to her, and that I wouldn’t let her feel alone when she passed.
My mom brought her by my work while I was on lunch to see me. She was pitiful. She was limp, and couldn’t really hold her head up or tongue in her mouth. She was breathing rapidly and with great effort. She laid there on my lap and I rubbed her exactly how she loved to be rubbed. I had a good left over lunch of pork chops, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, and corn on the cob. I wish I could say that her last meal was great, but she didn’t have the strength. I took some beans and held them to her mouth. She raised her head, ever so slightly, and sniffed, and then dropped her head back down. I rubbed the sauce on her lips and tongue, but she didn’t even lick it off her mouth. She had no interest in eating at all. My mother took her to my grandmother’s house that was close by, for me to leave and come hold her on the way to the vet. When I got there, they had her laying in the grass in front of a water bowl under a shade tree. She was actually sitting with her head up for a little while and then rested it on the water bowl after taking a few drinks. They were fanning her to keep her cool.
I eventually picked her up and laid a potty pad under her in my lap. On the way to the vet she actually changed positions a couple of times, and even stood up for a second or two. She needed to pee, and didn’t want to on me, but I told her that was the last of my worries and I would clean her and myself up. She laid there and pee’d, and I did as I said I would. When we arrived at the vet, there were no rooms available. So we would have to wait a little bit. We were sitting on the bench, and I was rubbing her the whole time. She rolled onto her stomach, from her side, out of nowhere and looked at us and wagged her tail a few times, before laying back onto her side. a few seconds after that happened she had a seizure. She wrenched her head backwards, with her feet straight out and her eyes were moving back and forth as if she was trying to find sight of us again. It was heart breaking. My mom grabbed my arm and said she thought she had passed. I told her that she may be, but she was definitely having a seizure, right there in the waiting area. She eventually came out of it and went back to breathing heavy and fast again. I quickly told my mom that I needed the tissues out of her truck that I forgot to bring in with me. I wasn’t lying entirely, I really did forget them, but I also knew it was probably about to happen again from the feel of her. As soon as my mom went through the door, and at 2:36 pm (I know because my apple watch recorded a jump in my heart rate from 80bpm to 136bpm almost immediately at that time), she took her last breath. She wrenched back again, eyes moving rapidly, and I pulled her close to me and rubbed her furiously while burying my head in her neck and whispering to her how much I loved her, how much a good girl she was, and that no one will ever be her to me. I let her lay back down in my lap, and as my mother came in she said I was just staring down at her. When she asked if she was ok I just mumbled “She just died”. Her nerves will still causing her to try to breathe but her heart had all but stopped. It would beat once, every few seconds at most. She never took another breath. The rushed us into the back to try and give her the shot to help her along, but it took some massaging and several attempts to get her vein to take it because her blood pressure was almost non existent. I stayed with her and couldn’t stop rubbing or scratching her until the vet came to take her.
We are having her cremated, because of my mom’s plans to move, and she doesn’t want to leave her behind when she does. I think it is great thing, because she will always be with us no matter where we go in life, just like she was in her own life.
I’m sorry to be so graphic in my descriptions of the events, but it helps me cope when I can explain things in detail. I hope that no one has to go through the heartache I felt yesterday, but if ou are a pet owner, chances are that you will. So hug you pups and your cats, or whatever non human friend you have with you while reading this, because they need to feel your love to be able to carry on, and one day they won’t be able to receive that love anymore and will need as much as they can carry with them when they go. I know I will never stop feeling Gabby’s love, that’s for sure. She taught my Shih Tzu, Bella, what she knows, and Gert too, just like Prissy and Nick taught her.
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