Hi there. It's been quite a while since I have written anything and we have so much going on that I should be shouting from rooftops or just doing something. But I'm not. Most of you that read this right now are my friends or family members, so you either know this story or have heard about it. But I need to write about it . I need this arena to talk about it. You see, I lost my best friend. Not the type of lost as in he can't find his way home or is missing. I know exactly where he is. Right now he is sitting in a box on my coffee table. He was 100 pounds of soft gray fur that had a distinctive catfish smell at times. He had toenails that went click, click, click as he walked across the hardwood floor. He had a tail that wagged when I looked at him and said "Cashew". He had lips that curled and teeth that snapped when I would grab his nose and say, "Rarrrh." He was my best friend and now he is in a box that is sitting on my coffee table.
Cash was a special boy--which let's be honest here, he was special and he was "special". We made fun of him all of the time. If he would have been a human he would have been a plethora of phobias. Agoraphobia, Acrophobia, Amaxophobia, Anthropophobia...those are seriously just the "A's". But he was also special in the way that when he gave in and loved you, you had no doubt about it. He always loved Zach and me--other people were a problem though. He was constantly on guard, ready to protect us at a moment's notice even to the point that there was no doubt he would give his life to make sure that Zach and I were safe.
Cash was six months old when we got him. The first four months of his life were spent with casts on his legs to keep him alive. He was a giant. He grew too fast for his puppy bones and his legs could not support the weight of his body. So he was lap bound, cast bound, and food withheld from him at the orders of the vet. When his breeder realized that he was going to survive his traumatic childhood, she set out to find the perfect parent. Linda, who was also a cousin of mine and lifelong neighbor, asked my dad if I would want a puppy. In turn, Bill called me and asked me if I wanted a puppy. At this point in my life, Brent and I were separated and when I got the call, I had just left a very adversarial marriage counseling session in which I had got up and left. When I answered the phone, the last question that I expected to be asked was if I wanted a puppy that needed a good, safe home. Of course my answer was yes. A puppy was the answer to all of my problems at the time. Zach needed something to love and so did I. So 30 minutes later we were on our way to pick up our new Weimaraner that was already named Cash and was already scared of the big world around him.
And how he grew into that world and mine. I always called him my middle child because at the time, I still had my other dogs with me that have now long since crossed the Rainbow Bridge. There was Mollie, the matriarch of the group, then Sophie, the temperamental Boxer, Ozzy~~my beloved sweet OCD baby, and now Cash. I was separated, a mom, giving piano lessons, and had just started working one day a week at Zach's school teaching music. Our house was loud, filled with the laughter of Zach and his best friends, Imanol and Gian, and Cash was thrust right into the middle of it. He adapted and oh, how he grew! Finally able to eat, he grew up, out, and around. Did I mention how soft he was? He hated water and would do anything to avoid it--not such an easy thing to do when we had a pool in the backyard. I couldn't resist pulling him into it simply because I wanted to make sure that he could swim. Let's just say that he could swim to save himself, but it wasn't pretty at all!
The thing about Cash was this. For being a giant, he was unassuming. He had his place and he knew it, but I didn't. I didn't know what a part of my life he had become. When I got Abby, it was so Cash could have a companion. He was terrified at being alone (separation anxiety is a very common trait of Weimaraners.) I knew Ozzy was getting older and also sick, so I knew that he needed a new friend. Abby always got all of my attention, but Cash was just there. He asserted himself when needed, but just was always there.
In 2016 we moved to Oregon. By this time, Ozzy was gone and it was just Cash and Abby. Ask me what it is like to move an agoraphobe 2,000 miles to the far west coast of the United States. By day 2 in the car, he was not eating and he was not getting out to potty again. It was a matter of literally dragging him out of the car and lifting him back in. He was a nervous, hot mess. When we reached our house the landlubber in him rejoiced and he was never going in a car again--and he didn't for a while.
Cash had rules in life. We always liked to joke that he was the fun police, but he really sort of was. About 3 months before Cash got sick, we got our building, so Cash and Abby were able to go to work with us. He got much better at going in a car and looked forward to leaving every day. He definitely had rules for riding: no moving once you got your seat in the car, no moving while the car was in motion, no eating cookies from the strangers at banks, no eating in the car (unless it was from McDonalds--it was safety approved then) and no sticking your head out the window. It were all of these quirks that made me love him until even now it feels like my heart will explode with grief.
It has been 1 month, 18 days since he left us. Four days prior to this, I noticed that he was lethargic and I thought that he possibly had the flu. I took him to the vet on Monday, October 08. Our new vet couldn't figure out what was wrong, but thought that he might have hurt his back initially because he did tense up when she pushed in a particular spot. I also casually mentioned that I hadn't seen him urinate in a day or so, but he also hadn't been drinking much. She took him back for an x-ray and found what she thought was a blockage in his bladder. After inserting a catheter and only being to enter a small way, she told me that I was going to have to take him to the emergency vet in Vancouver where they could do an ultrasound. She told me that I needed to get him there as soon as possible because it was a matter of life or death. So away we went at 5:00. We get to the clinic at 6:40 and they call triage to take him back. And we wait. Long story short, after some argument of them wanting to keep him overnight to do an ultrasound in the morning, I said no. I wanted to take him home, but please insert a catheter so his bladder was emptied. Finally after our persistence, more x-rays were done and finally a quick scan with the ultrasound which led the vet to grab the other doctor and do a more thorough one. In all of this, she kept me somewhat informed. The third time in the room, she handed me a paper on bladder cancer. The fourth time in the room it was worse. I didn't get a paper, but I got the pictures of the ultrasound scan. My sweet, gentle giant had a 17 cm. tumor in his abdomen that had attached to all of his major organs and was feeding off of his own bloodstream. Best case scenario was that I would get to take him home and spend some time with him. In his discharge papers, it was listed that he was on hospice care. Do you know what it is like to read that your best friend is on hospice care and sent home with high powered pain killers to keep him comfortable? That is a rhetorical question because I know that all of us have been through something similar, but it just made it so freaking real. I knew that I only had a few precious days with him. Literally just hours to soak up a lifetime of smells and feels and his special type of love for me. I wanted to be selfish and keep him with me for every minute that I could. I was afraid to sleep because what if I missed something, what if I missed a moment that I might forget in the not too distant future? We knew when it was time. He no longer would drink anything at all, food wasn't an option. That beast in his stomach was growing at an alarming rate becoming visibly distended at the end. He still wanted to get up occasionally and move around, he was uncomfortable no matter how he laid. And finally it was the look and the sound. He moaned. The first moan was too much to handle. My selfishness was over. I had to do what was right for the friend that had done so much for me. So I called the vet and I scheduled the appointment. Mark, Zach, and I made the trip together so Cash would be with the ones that he loved the most and we stayed with him long after his last breath and spirit had left his body. Even now I am crying as I finish writing this. It has taken me weeks to finish this post. I miss him with every fiber of my being and probably always will.
This weekend we are going to pick up a new brother for Abby. It is bittersweet. A new puppy makes it real--more real than it really has been. I am ready to love another boy but not ready to forget about the big gray dog that took my heart and a part of me with him. Cash and I learned not to be afraid of the world together. Now I am to continue on that path and let a new puppy teach me something else about life and myself.