Thursday, 26 September 2013

Life cycles.

Tess is going to be a huge miss in my everyday life. She gallumphed through the days like a small hippopotamous and it's fair to say that she was never the most graceful of dogs with her heavy feet, lack of brakes and great enthusiasm. She had a wonderful knack of blocking the hallway, lying across doorways and generally being in the way. She was an avid collector of large stones/small rocks which she liked to leave in strategic places so that people tripped over them or stood on them in the dark. She found the resulting calamity quite hillarious. Whenever I turned round she was there.So even though Rolf and Chico are here it seems quiet and empty without her.

She was typical of a female German Shepherd in that she was totally loyal and protective and always let me know when there was anyone about. She was always ready to warn off strangers yet perfectly happy to welcome them in once I'd ok'd them. She was excellent at dissuading the uninvited 'roof repairers', religious sales-people and cold-callers from entering my property. I'm guessing the postie will miss her. Won't he? Well, he'll be aware of her absence anyway.

I'd known for months that something was wrong, as you do when you know and love an animal so well. Something vague and insidious. I'm pretty sure that the vets had me marked as a neurotic pet owner as I kept going back, insisting on investigations that all came up negative.

It seems that Tess had haemangio-sarcoma. An aggressive tumour in the spleen that after causing a succession of minor bleeds that give transient symptoms and is hard to detect, ultimately ruptures causing a sudden devastating bleed. The dog then usually goes rapidly into hypovolaemic shock, loses consciousness and dies. Although it sounds odd I'm glad that she went so suddenly. Her arthritis was severe and was becoming crippling which just wasn't fair on a dog like her, highly active and involved and mentally alert. So amid the grief there is a strange sense of peace as well. And thankfulness. I'm thankful that she didn't undergo a long and painful decline that would end with me having to make quality of life decisions and I'm thankful that she spared me the following day when her scan was due and when I'd have had to decide to euthanise her.

My friend and I both love our dogs dearly and we have different feelings on losing them. She feels that the pain of grief is too much to risk doing it again. I feel that the joy of living with them is what matters more. Yes, if we love them as family members, they'll break our hearts. We know that at the start and can't lightly dismiss the extent of the pain to come but for me the pain of loss is worth it balanced against the highs and lows of sharing your life with them. Even now, in the harsh rawness of the early days of bereavement I know my life has been the richer for having known Tess. I was so lucky that she chose me.
You can read about how she came to me here.Introducing Tess.

Meanwhile the other beasties offer much needed distractions.

Evie continues to sit on the nest despite me having removed the non-viable eggs. This morning I also removed the small china dishes that I was feeding and watering her and the chicks from and which at some point during last night she had pulled beneath herself to incubate! She was furious, fluffing up her feathers so she looked like a giant killer turkey and attacked me with murderous intent! What a good mum.

 Continuing with her own unique interpretation of  the 'How to be a chicken' rule-book, she seems to view herself as a modern working mother and is doing a sterling job with the chicks as well as being convinced she should be hatching more. I've put the food and water right across the other side of the nursery and she takes the chicks to eat and drink but then comes straight back to the nest, re-arranges her skirts and in the chicks go. I'm hoping she starts behaving like a normal mother hen soon and actually brings the chicks out for a photo session. Preferably before they are fully feathered and fully grown!

Anyway here are the latest pics of The Triplets. It's their birthday - they are a whole week old!


  1. very sorry to read about the loss of Tess, there is nothing like that awful feeling. I have 4 dogs, one is now 12 so I dread the day. Best wishes.

    1. Thanks Cheyenne. They certainly wriggle into our hearts don't they? Hope you get many more healthy years with yours.