In Memory Of Esne
Dreaded Real Life
Sorry I missed two entries. Various things delayed me the first week, but this is what delayed me the second week. If you've followed this blog long, you remember Esne from the memoriam entry for Penny, our golden retriever who passed away two years ago. Last Wednesday, Esne passed away as well.
Esne was a Brittany we adopted. We usually called her "Ezzie" or just "Ez." Her previous life we don't know that much about, but she was owned by a homeless woman and lived in a car. She was already old when we got her, but full of enough spunk to be confused with a puppy. We never knew exactly how old she was. She had "fatty tumors" as they're called in her skin, but they weren't cancerous; just something that breed gets. She was medium sized for a dog.
Ez was a very different dog than the other two dogs my family has owned during my lifetime. Penny and Duke were both Golden Retrievers. Duke loved playing fetch; Penny not as much, but she did play fetch sometimes. Ez almost never played fetch; she preferred walks and running in the yard. Sometimes she would get in the mood to throw a stuffed bone-shaped toy around, though. Penny would also leap at any opportunity to escape the yard's fence and run wild through the neighborhood, and sometimes Duke would as well. Not so with Ez -- she could be trusted totally with an open gate -- usually she would just go right to the car, because she loved car rides.
She was a very friendly dog who never showed any aggression towards people, and always wanted to be near people. If we were in one room, she would be in that room most times. She was fascinated at first when we got Hunter (a cat), but Hunter soon tamed her with a few slaps (Hunter is declawed in her front paws). Ez left both of our cats (including our new cat, Buddy) alone -- the three animals could walk by each other for the most part as if they were all dogs.
That never worked with Penny -- she would lunge at Hunter on sight so we had to keep them seperated. If there was a problem it was Hunter who would sometimes slap at Ez for no real reason other than she was there. In the last few weeks before her death, Ezzy's eyesight did start to go though and she started running into Hunter on accident.
Ez loved walks. We used to walk her with Penny before her death. She always had a lot of energy and would run around the house if she hadn't had her walk. Unfortunately there were weeks where we didn't walk her as much as we should have. And she would pull or drag sometimes, especially if Mom didn't come (who usually walked her), or if it was raining, snow, cold, or hot. She especially would sometimes pull so much she would choke herself and start coughing so we had to stop and try to get her to slow down, although everybody tells me it was mostly just for me.
We started watching the Dog Whisperer's show in recent years, and tried out his advice for being a good pack leader. For me the choke chain never worked with her unlike with the Retreivers; she wouldn't listen to it. I bought a harness that made it harder for her to choke herself and managed to train her to slow down or speed up with small tugs and better calm assertive energy (as Cesar puts it). Pretty much the last year or so of her life, she was the perfect dog in just about every way.
Unfortunately she did develop a rather gross habit of trying to eat you-know-what in the yard or in the cat litter when she was hungry. But we figured out ways to train her not to with that too (and make sure she ate her food lol). She had previously had allergies to her other food that made her unbearably itchy to the point she would bite her skin raw. We finally found the right diet to end that, and made sure any fleas from the cats were destroyed. But Ez still would sometimes try to avoid eating that food unless we stood there and blocked her if she tried to leave. Also had a bad habit of snarfing it down too much.
Anyways, I managed to correct her behavior in the yard simply by always gonig out with her and giving her a corrective tap like Cesar would and the "ch" sound if she sniffed a pile. Also would simply block her from going under our pine trees. By the end, I was pleased to see that she respected me perfectly as a pack leader. That was a cool feeling, if needed for rather strange reasons lol.
I trained her to totally obey hand, movement, and sound signals for the most part in her last year, and she knew certain words well. If I wanted her to come, all I had to do was clap and hold my hand out. Sometimes twice -- she would always come. I could tell her not to go somewhere just by moving towards her a little with the right posture. If we were driving somewhere but couldn't take her, she always went to her green chair if we said "watch the house." She knew all the synonyms for "walk". Her favorite word was "drive". I could correct just about any behavior with a clap to get her attention back on me.
To me her most endearing trait was her preference for her green chair. This is a broken chair with a matching footstool. One leg is gone, but we propped it up with a metal block. Partly out of sheer laziness and lack of budget. But also because Ez would have missed if it we threw it out. If nobody was in it, she would jump up on it anytime we were in that room. This is in the room we use to bag papers for the weekend delivery job and to watch TV -- if anyone was sitting in that chair and got up just for a second, bam, there would be Ezzy. She would move with a simple tap, though.
Her breathing problems slowly got worse. She would as I said sometimes snarf down her food too fast and it would go down the wrong way and someone would have to do the Heimlich pushing thing on her stomach to get her breathing right, until we were able to train her to eat more slowly. The choking herself on the walk thing never came back, at least not for me, once we trained her to not pull so hard. She always breathed heavily, though, and there were times recently when it got really loud and she was clearly having some difficulty breathing.
Her eyesight started slowly going, as well as her hearing. She never totally lost either though -- I remember that Duke was totally blind in last year or so. But she would run into things and cats. She wouldn't respond to sound corrections or calls as much. She also could not jump up on beds or into the car very well. She slept on the floor -- but upstairs; she could still climb steps up until her last day. We had to pick her up to get her into the car sometimes. She would stumble on things. In her last few days, she would sometimes trip just running or walking, on nothing but the floor or ground.
On Wednesday of last week (July 30), Mom took her on a walk after sundown (when it was cooler). About halfway through the walk, Mom says she started slowing down and breathing heavily. They stopped to rest halfway, then continued home. Ez started breathing heavily again, and it just got worse as they got closer to home. When she got in the yard, she held her head up and stopped paying attention to her surroundings. She gasped for air very loudly, constantly. Mom carried her inside and yelled for me.
I saw her standing like that, mouth wide open and loudly gasping for breath. She was salivating uncontrollably. I tried to do the Heimlich, hoping something was just stuck. I tried to calm her down, thinking she was just too worked up. It didn't change, except that her salivating got worse and her lungs started making a gurgling sound. Woke up Dad (he goes to work at around three in the morning so has to sleep early), and called emergency vet. The person on the line could hear her breathing and said "Is that her? Get her in here right away!"
We drove there. Man, those red lights were tense... Took maybe fifteen minutes, not sure. The salivating was more like foaming at the mouth now and had to be wiped every few minutes, and her breathing was still just as bad. When we got there, someone was standing outside and saw her, said her gums were purple. They took her in right away and had us wait in a waiting room.
Long story that I am not sure I totally remember correctly short, the vet was pretty sure there was nothing that could be done. It was a condition having to do with the larynx that happens with older dogs sometimes. We had two options. One, a thousand-dollar procedure involving a breathing tube that probably wouldn't work and would put Ez through a lot of pain. Even if it worked, this whole thing would almost certainly happen again soon, and worse that time. The other choice was to put her down. We decided we had to go with the second option.
Mom, Dad, and I said goodbye to her. She was laying on her side in a large metal box with a clear plastic door, with oxygen being pumped into it, still gasping, though she wasn't as purple as before. She didn't respond to us at all. I had to fight tears. Then the vet gave her a sedative, and we left the room.
After she was gone, the vet told us we definately made the right call -- the larynx condition was secondary. She had something like pus or an infection in her lungs that they couldn't have done anything to cure, so the procedure wouldn't have done any good.
My brother was away at a camp, and my sister doesn't live here anymore and was working at the time. Neither knew until the weekend. I started writing this blog entry on Thursday, but I just haven't been able to write it. It's hard to finish even now. I hate death. May death burn for a thousand years and then be destroyed forever.
I can see that this is very long now, so I guess I'll leave it at that. I'll miss you, Ezzy!