St. Sydney Bean Basset
5.2.00 – 5.24.12

Dear Sydney,

It has been less than 36 hours since you left us and not a moment has passed where you haven’t been in my thoughts. I spent so much time yesterday replaying your final hours and minutes on this earth. Our last lunch date on the kitchen floor – I was so relieved to see you partake in that Arby’s roast beef the way I know you could. You’d refused food since morning – how I knew you were ready to go – and sharing that sandwich was a parting gift from you I will always treasure. You hadn’t budged from your bed all day but somehow you mustered up the energy to follow me into the foyer and peer outside into the sunshine of the day. I could see it took every ounce of energy and breath that you had. And that look in your eye when we took that last drive to the vet – a place you had been so many times before – telling me you were ready, is one I won’t forget.

I’ve replayed some not so great moments in my head too – your final minutes of life, me burying my face in your sweet fur, feeling your chest stop moving. Hearing your amazing doctor tell me that you were indeed at peace. I’m pretty sure I’d rather swim with a sea of great whites than have to relive that moment – yet being there with you as you passed on to your next journey is an honor I would not trade for anything. You chose me to be your person – and with that honor came the responsibility to be by your side as you had for me so many times before. I don’t know what I did to deserve the chance to be your person but you chose me that fateful day 12 years ago and loved me and the family I would add to our little trio that initially was you and your sister, with every ounce of your being.  Thank you.

When I got home last night – to the house that suddenly seemed so empty without the clickety clack of your paws and your voracious bark reminding me to get you a snack or take you for a trip outside – I looked at your line-up of medications on the windowsill. My goodness, Bean, how did you manage to wag your tail faithfully and maintain your happy disposition with everything that was seemingly failing inside your little basset hound body? Significant arthritis kept you from running yet somehow; you managed to climb the steps to be with your human family, almost nearly to the end. You were on a combination of three medicines just to keep the diarrhea that had plagued you since winter at bay and most recently had added three new heart medicines to help your failing heart pump more effectively. This of course was in addition to the prednisone that had kept you alive for the nearly 10 years it has been since you were diagnosed with Addison’s disease. If you hurt inside, you never let on. Your stoicism to the end will inspire me as I age in my own earthly journey.

I spent some time looking at pictures of happier days, the day I brought you and your sister Shelby home. You were runt and carried the scrappy attitude so many runts do. You loved to nap on my belly and often I’d cop a squat on the coach only to wake up to not one, but two snoozing bassets on my belly.  I loved to put you and Shelby in a picnic basket and show you off to my friends and co-workers.

Puppy Days

A few weeks after your arrival, you showed me what would be your lifelong zest for food. I dropped a raw chicken breast in front of you and you managed to ingest the entire piece of meat before I knew what had happened.  Terrified as I could see this massive chunk of meat inside your puppy body, I called the vet, who assured me you would surely be fine but to safeguard my carpet …just in case. My carpets and upholstery have never been the same since your arrival but I think the cleaning bills were a small price to pay for what you have given me.

I came home from work one day and found you, covered in blood and missing a big chunk of your ear. You and your sister had gotten into a squabble over some day old bread and you were perfectly willing to sacrifice that ear for that darn bread (I assume you figured you had plenty to spare). When I found you, you were still laying protectively over that bread. The vet operated and stitched you up – sans a quarter size chunk of your beautiful velvety ear – and that missing ear not only added to our bond but solidified that feisty spirit I love so much.

We nearly lost you just days after your second birthday.  I came home and you did not greet me with your usual boisterous greeting. I knew something was wrong and took you to the vet immediately. Your vitals keep crashing and they shipped you to the emergency hospital in Annapolis. Your wonderful vet tried to prepare me for the very real possibility that you may not make it. I held you in my lap the entire drive and prayed. As the vet tech at the emergency room entrance leaned into the car to pick up your very weak body, you lifted your head and licked her – and another Sydney fan was immediately born. The tech turned to me with misty eyes and said to me “Going to do everything to save this little sweetheart, she is a special one.” You rallied that day and five days later we brought you home with a diagnosis of Addison’s disease.  You survived an Addisonian crisis that many dogs do not – a feat you accomplished several times in your life. Your prognosis was good but guarded – you would be what they called a special needs dog on medication for the rest of your life.

Your dad and I remember taking you to Pet Smart after that hospital stay and the first thing you did was drive that snout of yours into a bag of kibble. A bag of kibble at the verrry bottom of a large stack of bags. Oh what a mess it made and oh how you gobbled up as much as you could get your little chompers on before we managed to drag you away (and sheepishly call for clean-up on aisle 4!)

We moved you into a new home a few years after that – and you quickly found your favorite sleeping spot. You weren’t a huge fan of the new captain’s bed that we added – you somehow managed to convince us that specially made basset steps that would allow you to join us in that king-sized bed, was an essential purchase.

We added some new family members and you welcomed them each without so much as a growl or even a snarl. First Murray, the kitten, who would become your soulmate and best sleeping buddy, followed by noisy George boy #1 and noisy George boy #2. As they grew more mobile and active, I always trusted you with Noah and Nate – and despite their rowdy hijinks, more than a couple stepped-on tails and plenty of ride-on toys whizzing past you at crazy speeds, you never bared a tooth or did anything more than a quick warning bark – which I think you did more for self preservation than anything else. Thank you for being so gentle and sweet to my human babies. Even though the amount of attention I was able to give you changed when they arrived, your place in my heart was always secure.

You’ve kept me on my toes over the years with health scares. Addison’s dogs have that guarded prognosis and every vomiting episode or bad day usually meant a trip to the vet. No matter what, you propped your paws up at the vet’s lobby counter looking for a handout from your friends – and your charms always won you at least a couple extra treats each time.

Best Friends, circa 2004

I would give my left arm to feel your nose snuggle into my arm the way you liked to – or to feel those massive basset paws climb into my lap. I’d give anything to see you greet me in your usual way – by going and fetching a favorite stuffed toy and bringing it my way. You hadn’t done that in years and last month picked up the habit a few times. It was a glimpse of my young puppy again – another one of your final gifts as your story came full circle. Arthritis had taken this away a couple years ago but I will never forget the tap, tap, tap your back leg made when someone gave your belly a good scratch – or the RiverDance type moves you made at night to get your bed linens crumpled up just right before you settled in. You managed an abbreviated version of that comical dance yesterday – another final gift  and moment I’ll never forget.

I’m not sure dinners will ever be the same without the musical accompaniment of your nonstop barking, insisting a spot at the table be made for you. You got a lot of scraps thrown your way – though your dad reminds me that one of the few tricks you and I learned before we dropped out of obedience school was ‘speak” – and you were just making sure I knew you hadn’t forgotten your schooling!

I don’t think I can count how many times I’ve e cone upstairs to find the contents of my purse, gym bag or briefcase strewn across the room and the remnants of whatever granola bar or candy was inside. Trashcans were fair game too and as the boys begin to bring more snacks into their room, you made certain no crumb was wasted.

My emotions have ebbed and flowed today. I’ve cried in your fur many a time over things that had nothing to do with you – so you know what a softie your Mom is. I came downstairs and saw a piece of your hair on the hardwood floor – the last place you sat – and suddenly could not breathe. I checked in on my Facebook page and saw over 100 loving posts in your honor on my page! Our vet office even posted a touching tribute in your honor on their Facebook page. The tears flowed again.

I’m looking for a sign that you are OK and have made it safely to your next destination. I don’t know how to not worry about you – its been part of my identity for over a decade now – but my faith tells me you are better than you have ever been, back in the loving arms of your Maker.  I hope you have found your real mommy by now – she was so sad when I picked you and your sister up from the breeder’s that day – I could hear her sad howls the entire way to the car as I carried you and Shelby away. She sure loved you and I can only imagine was thrilled for that sweet reunion with her scrappy runt baby.

I’m not sure I’ve said all I have to say to you, sweet Bean, but tonight, typing furiously on my keyboard is somehow keeping a smile on my face as the tears roll down. You were a great dog. The best dog. And I am so grateful you picked me. Send my love to Lucy and Bear and all our other furry friends and know that no matter how many days pass, you will always carry a piece of my heart. You’ve taken a piece of my heart with you that I am not sure I will ever get back – but my heart grew at least a couple sizes because of your love so I hopeful that someday, I’ll let myself open it up to another four-legged loved one. I’m sure you will help send me a sign.

I’ll bid you goodnight, sweet Syd and leave you with the prayer your daddy read to you as we said goodbye to you yesterday. Rest well, Bean, Good girl. I love you.

Loving God,

Our beloved pet and family member Sydney is on her final journey.

We will miss her dearly because of the joy and affection Sydney has given to us so unconditionally.

Bless Sydney and give her peace.

May your care for Sydney never die.

We thank you for the gift that Sydney has been to us.

Give us hope that in your great kindness, you may restore Sydney in your heavenly kingdom, according to your wisdom, which goes beyond all human understanding.

Make a place for her with you God and help us find our way to the sweet reunion we will have with her in heaven.

Amen.

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