Monday, 13 June 2016

A post about my friend

I wrote this blog post some weeks ago, in happier times before Jasper passed. This is a sad blog post to write and upload but I wrote it in advance of his passing as a kind of eulogy and knew that following his death I just would not be able to put into words my thoughts. I hope it will serve to celebrate him and the times we shared and in the future be a reminder if his fun and vivacity.

"Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality"
Emily Dickinson

My dog died today.

He was 11 years old, the second Cavalier King Charles spaniel we've had. He was born in March 2005 when my wife was pregnant with our son, now nearly 11 and we can still clearly remember bringing him home in a card board box with a towel in the bottom and then sitting with him for hours on our kitchen floor whilst he settled in.

He'd just woken up, was not deformed !

Although all the animals are my wife's, Jasper always seemed to be 'my dog'. He always wanted to know where I was at any point, even towards the end when he got a bit unstable on his paws and he usually waited on the door mat in the hall way waiting for me when I went out shopping at the weekend regardless of whatever anyone else in the house was doing.

He loved food, we always knew when he was poorly because he stopped eating. That was rare though because, with one or two exceptions although he had lots 'wrong' with him he was overall a healthy and vivacious dog.
He did love food !

We used to joke, especially when he was young that he was at least as intelligent as a person and sometimes looking at how he watched you and reacted to conversation I wouldn't be surprised if behind that handsome face he was, in a nice way, plotting doggy world domination.

Poised for action ...

As I mentioned above, Jasper was a healthy and happy dog. Not sure why but when he was a puppy we used to call him the Rangy Baby Jesus - that kind of stuck as he was never a fat Cavalier but always rangy and kind of athletic. He had a heart murmur from a relatively young age but this is common in Cavaliers and in no way caused problems, he also had syringomyelia a brain condition again common the breed which caused him every now and then to freak out and scratch but had no major health impacts.
 Last year he began coughing a little on an evening and this was a deterioration of the heart condition but was treated with meds and he came right back to normal. Over Winter 2014 and then Summer 2015, as a family we had some of our best, longest dog walks with Jasper and our other dog : Muffin in the local woods and really explored our local area through having our dogs. It could be seen as a bit of a cliche but they were great times and I am going to miss sharing them with him and of course the rest of my family.
Post eye problems

When we returned home from holiday in August last year Jasp developed an eye problem which deteriorated very quickly and one evening in late August his left eye literally burst and he had to have emergency surgery to remove the damaged eye and was left after several weeks of convalescence with a cuter face but only one eye. We quickly discovered though that his remaining eye had very limited sight. As a clever creature though he has been able to adapt to limited sight and has total recall of where everything is in the house, garden and on our regular walks.

We were staggered at how well he overcame the eye problem given his age and heart condition but then we hit another setback, no sooner was he over the eye and back to his normal self when he became very poorly with pancreatitis, a nasty gastric problem and came close to dying. With intensive treatment and a continuous vet food low fat diet he overcame not one but two serious bouts of this condition.

That was over Christmas 2015 and then again January of 2016.

Unfortunately the heart condition, eye and then pancreatitis have just taken their toll and his heart condition ramped up in mid March. We literally battled to save him, increasing medication to the absolute maximum and even a bit beyond to eke out a few more weeks for him because right til the end he was happy, eager to eat and walk and spend time with us. Over the last few weeks he couldn't be left alone because any noise outside would set him off barking and that stressed his heart and his breathing became harder.
With us on one of his favourite walks

In the end, we had to make the determination that all pet owners dread from the day they bring home their new family friend to the very second it happens and decided that it was us being selfish to make him suffer the difficult breathing problems that would only get worse and more uncomfortable for him any longer.

We all know what happened next. I will not suffer those last few moments again but suffice to say that I was with my friend for his last moments and am glad to have been able to see our friendship through to its bittersweet end.

I am an atheist so think there is no infinite green field for him to run through but perhaps there should be. Whatever happens afterwards, my friend will run through my happy dreams with me forever. 

"The song is ended but the melody lingers on ...."
Irving Berlin 


Jasper Nathaniel Knight - Catamaran Sweet Fudge - March 2005 to May 2016

Woof !

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