Monday, May 23, 2011

In loving memory, Oskar O'Naturel de Guerande

Oskar died today.  He bloated after dinner, and at the vet I chose to put him to sleep rather than subject him to invasive treatments that had low chances of helping.  I'd been putting this video together for a while now.  I was still working on it.  You might need a tissue.

Oskar was a great dog.  If you've been reading this blog, you know many stories about his 12-3/4 years.  So right now I'm just going to tell you how today, his last day, was really good.

Like the rest of the country we've had a lot of bad weather here lately.  Today, however, turned sunny and warm.  I got home from work and we had our typical weeknight routine.  Check the chickens, make supper for everyone.  By 6:30 Oskar was outside in the yard and I watched the evening news.  Between 7 and 8 I went outside with the dogs.  Ulani and I played frisbee, and Oskar did his tricks for treats.  The birds sang and all was happy.

Ulani and I came inside to watch Dancing with the Stars, but Oskar stayed in the backyard as he loved to do.  The evening was sunny and about 75 degrees -- just perfect.

A couple of times at commercial breaks I looked over to see Oskar in the grass by the gate, watching over all the activity in the yard.  This was his favorite thing.  Then about ten 'til 9 when I looked he wasn't there.  Not unusual because sometimes he'd go off to make rounds.

As DWTS wrapped up I looked out and he still wasn't there.  Looking a little more carefully I saw he had shifted to a different place in the grass, and was surrounded by what looked like strips of white paper.  Ulani and I went outside to check and I discovered that the white was foamy spit-up.  Any owner of a large, deep-chested dog should know the signs of bloat.  I had him stand up and thought his chest seemed a bit extended but certainly not that basketball appearance you fear.  His gums, however, were grayish.  Not a good sign.  And he was panting.

I quickly called Dr. Mike and arranged to meet at the hospital in 20 minutes.  Oskar carefully put his front legs into the backseat and I boosted him in.  Then I drove faster on country roads than I ever have.  Dr. Mike examined him then took him for an xray.  I paced.  When they returned I was given the bad news.  Oskar was bloating.  I already knew that I would not opt for surgery on a dog his age.  There was only one other option.

And so I sat on the floor with my big boy, sang the Puppy School song with him, had him shake hands and do a quiet bark, while the drugs took effect and he left me.  It was very peaceful and I was so grateful to be able to end his suffering.

I'll have more to write in a day or two.


Anonymous said...

Oh Johanna, I am so sorry. I remember when I first met you and Oskar, as he was spread out on the floor of your office, I knew I needed a Briard in my life. Though my Briard is still living, I do know how difficult it is to release such a dear soul and comforting friend from your life.(I'm ugly-face crying now!). What a beautiful tribute. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Ulani, and the rest of your tribe. I also want to thank you for sharing the information about bloat. I knew that was a concern with the breed, but I want to forward this to the adoptive parents. Roux has had some other health issues, so I would want them to be clear on these symptoms. My deepest sympathy. SA

sp said...
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Rose H said...

I'm so, so sorry that you have lost your beloved Oskar. What a hole you must have in your heart. Your beautiful video has moved me to tears. Know that Oskar has been surrounded by love and caring, and even as he slipped away to the rainbow bridge he was still loved and cared for and his dignity intact.
Sending you my deepest sympathy from over the pond Give Ulani a big hug from me.

Rose H (Second Hand Rose)

Heike Trozzo said...

I feel like I knew Oskar personally because of all the stories you shared over the years. I can't find any words, I just cry with you. May Ulani and you give each other comfort.
Hugs, Heike

Cyndi and Stumpy said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your beautiful boy. I hope you can find comfort in your memories and under the watchful eyes of Ulani.

Stumpy and me

Anonymous said...

Jo, dear,
I am just stunned and so very sorry.
It was a good thing, to release him from his old body.
So goodbye Oscar. It was great knowing you and about you all these years.

Guerande Briards said...

Dear Johanna... I'm at loss to know what to say to comfort you. I guess no words are good enough to make the pain go away. You will always hold Oskar near to your heart and when you look at the sun come down on your Busy Solitude Farm, you can raise your glass to a fine companion... your beloved Oskar Boy.
Hugs to you and Ulani.

The JR said...

This is making me cry. I'm so sad for you.

I've been praying everyday that I don't have to make the decision for my 16 yo Country.

I pray for her to go on her own, at peace and for me not to have to be the one to decide.

My heart hurts for you right now, he was such a wonderful fellow.

Anonymous said...

How wonderful of you to share the joy that Oskar brought to your life. I can't imagine any dog having a better life than the one that you provided Oskar. You write about how much he loved Busy Solitude and all the sights, sounds, and smells that made his life so much fuller. You never spared a bit of your capacity to love.
Bill and I are so sorry that you have to face this loss.
With love,

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute.

Our deepest sympathy D&D

Tomi said...

Oh my dear friend. I just saw your e-mail and responded. My heart is with you.

Roberta said...

No, no, no, no, no. I am so sincerely and deeply sorry. I wish I could make time go back and somehow prevent this. They are such friends, our dogs. The very best. I know that your Ulani will be a great comfort to you.

Sherry said...

This was shocking and sudden, yet you kept your good sense throughout. No individual's grief is exactly like another's, yet we who have loved dogs with our whole hearts share what you are going through.

Alice said...

There are no "good" words to heal the hole in your heart. Know that as time goes on, the hurt will ease a little, but Oskar will always be with you. His bark, his walk, his mannerisms will always be right ... there ... just beyond your physical vision.
Let Ulani comfort you as you comfort her.
My deepest sympathies

Melissa H. said...

Jo I am so sorry. Mom told me this morning, but we were just leaving to take me to the train. I'm sorry I never got to see Oskar again. He was a sweet, wonderful dog and I know he was very happy with you.

All my love to you and Ulani.

Anonymous said...

Imagine his joy when he meets Coleen at the Rainbow Bridge. She will cherish him until you meet again.

RockinTonyA said...

Johanna, you have my deepest sympathy. What a shock. I am glad that you can remember the good times and were able to be with Oskar at the end - easing him in to whatever comes next. If he needs to find more friends on the other side, there is a sweet Rottie name Shoggoth (called Sugar for his personality).


Trish said...

This has left me so choked up and teary eyed. I feel horrible that I'm just now catching up on the farm, but your Facebook post today made me think something was up.

I could not imagine and don't look forward to the day I have to do the same. Thank you for sharing your story and I'm so glad the day was a good one. I'm glad you and Ulani have so many great memories and he'll be there to watch out for you from the sky.

Wendy'sHens said...

My best friend lost a dog to bloat. She came home to it and there was nothing she could do. She is a veterinarian.
My thoughts are with you and I would hug you if I could. I'm so sad. I enjoy everything you say about your dear animals and feel as if I know them.
I'm so sorry for your loss.