Rescued Dogs: Short Time, Long Love
This was as big a gift as I can ever recall, being given two more years of Cheyenne, just when we thought the end might be near.But Todd’s kids, who still came by to see her from time to time, said it wasn’t so. The vet’s records were wrong, they claimed–that Cheyenne was really just a year younger than Wolfie. Who knew for sure? We didn’t, and Cheyenne never let on. But she looked and seemed, most of the time, awfully good for a girl who’d had 50 puppies and was 12 years old. Or 14. Or 13, our best and favorite guess.
And she remained playful. She would actually play ball–meaning that she’d nose the ball out eight or ten feet to whomever she was playing with, and then catch it, and nose it out again. She’d play three-cup monte, too–meaning that we’d hide a ball under one of three cups and move the cups around. She delighted in nosing over the correct cup.
In the beginning, Todd’s kids told us, “That Cheyenne, she’ll play ball all day long.” Not now, not all day anymore. But she’d play ball.
And then one day, Cheyenne began to hack. Not badly, and not all the time. But it reminded us of when she’d had heartworm, of when we used to have to keep her in a crate most of the time, so that the medicine itself wouldn’t kill her.
And so we took her to see Dr. Menard, who had been seeing her–and her puppies–for however many years it actually was. Ann listened to her heart, listened to her lungs, and finally recommended an x-ray.
It showed cancerous nodes on Cheyenne’s lungs. Dr. Menard said it was only going to get worse, and probably soon. We could take another x-ray in a month, but only if she lasted that long. The prognosis wasn’t good. It was four years to the day since we’d moved into our house.
The next two weeks were long, yet they somehow flew by as we tried to deal with losing someone so close to us. We couldn’t take long walks down the driveway anymore, because Cheyenne couldn’t endure it. She’d go partway, sit down, and bark at the other dogs within earshot. The other dogs would, after a respectful moment, bark back. They seemed to know. Cheyenne would turn around and walk home.
We finally set a day, a Saturday. And then, on the Wednesday before, she rallied. We sat in our living room with her and talked about it, and Ann said, “She’ll tell us when it’s time.” Cheyenne got up, walked into the other room to her bucket of toys, grabbed a ball, and walked triumphantly back with the ball in her mouth.
We postponed our Saturday trip. Donnie came by the next night to say goodbye, and was greeted by a girl who he pronounced had a good year ahead of her. We spent the next half hour telling Cheyenne stories. The evening ended with Chloe, Donnie’s enthusiastic Labrador, coming in and knocking over everything except Cheyenne. Then it was time to go.