This week has been such a dreadful, sad week for me. Why? Most of you who read my blog regularly will know what an advocate I am for animals. On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, our family had to say goodbye to precious, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway.
Sir Shakespeare Hemingway, April 11, 2003 – March 7, 2017
Oh how I remember the day he was born, April 11, 2003. We received a phone call letting us know we could drop by at our convenience to select the puppy we wanted. Shakespeare was nicknamed at birth as Piglet, since he was the largest puppy. That evening, Phil and I drove to the home to look at the new puppies. I touched each pup, rubbing ears, and whispering gently to each. When I touched Shakespeare (Piglet) and rubbed his ear, he responded with a moan! I knew Piglet would be our puppy. I smiled, hugged him a bit and said, “This is our pup. Hello Shakespeare Hemingway.”
Everyone laughed. “His name is a big as he is,” their young daughter said. “In six weeks you can take him home.”
I was so excited. I counted down the weeks, recording them in my calendar. On May 23, 2003, Shakespeare came home with us. He curled his little body on my chest and went to sleep as I rubbed his ears.
Whenever he got upset, felt badly or just wanted a bit of affection, he would come to me wanting me to rub his ears. He became close friends with our oldest giant schnauzer, Prince Marmaduke Shamus. They romped and played outside, enjoyed boat rides and walks. Shakespeare LOVED walking. Whenever he passed by the area where the leashes hung, he would jump up and hit a leash, as if to say, “Hey Mom. It’s time for us to take a walk.”
Walking continued until we lost Shamus on May 2, 2012. Shakespeare loved being leader of the pack. He rushed ahead every time we walked. Over the years, Shakespeare loved to cuddle on my hip in bed. If I asked him to move so I could sleep, he groaned and when I fell back to sleep, he attached to me again.
Growing into a husky, mini-schnauzer size, Shakespeare loved to eat. At dinner time, he would stand under our kitchen table, knowing we would not allow him to beg for food, but he was nearby IF we gave him a bite. He grew to be 30 pounds. Once, while at his wellness check-up, our veterinarian suggested we cut back on his food a bit and give him green beans.
“Oh…He loves green beans!”
Our giant – Prince Marmaduke Shamus, lived with us from June 11,. 2001 – May 2, 2012
and Shakespeare, enjoying a walk
Every day with Shakespeare was a new experience. He would jump up to play, run around to play chase, and at Christmas time, he sniffed all the gifts until he found the gift wrapped doggie cookies. When he found it, he tore the gift wrap and chewed down, eating all of the cookies. When it was empty, he carried the empty container to me, as if to say, “May I have some more!” Every crumb was gone!
A few years ago, maybe in 2008, I started singing again. One morning, I was so wrapped up with a song, I didn’t notice Shakespeare until he tapped me with his paw. He was sitting up, listening to me singing, as if I was only singing to him. So, I sat down next to him and sang. When my husband came into the room, he watched us and said, “See, Shakespeare loves to hear you sing.”
Every time I sang after that day, I made certain to sing to Shakespeare.
We were bonded as one. Wherever I would go, Shakespeare wanted to go. When I went outside to enjoy the sunshine and work on my tan, Shakespeare followed. He would lie next to me on the ground, or he would jump on my chest. Silly boy!
He was independent. Charming. Trusting. Affectionate, and so funny! Shakespeare loved to spend time at home; however, when we left him in the breakfast room with the other dogs, if we failed to leave a light on and we arrived home in the dark, we could hear Shakespeare chewing us out as soon as we got out of the car. He would yelp at his highest pitch, as if he was saying to us: “How dare you to leave me in the dark. You know I don’t like the dark, and even if I am resting with the other dogs, I do not feel safe in the dark. DON’T LEAVE ME IN THE DARK AGAIN!”
I found a small vanity lamp, placing it in the breakfast room. Shakespeare would not be left in the dark again!
Approaching his senior years, he began losing weight, even though he was eating. The vets said he was OK. In 2015, his wellness check-up revealed he had lost a bit of weight. Even though he was husky, he was healthy. In September, 2016, after he was groomed, I noticed he was getting thin. In November, he would not eat occasionally. He didn’t want treats, nor did he want to play with Prince Midnight Shadow.
We cuddled a lot. His favorite spot was to be cuddled in a ball, next to my feet while I wrote. Often, I would touch him and rub him with my foot, and he moaned.
Two weeks ago, I noticed when he went outside to pee, he squatted. He could not lift his rear legs and when I picked him up, sometimes he would yelp. Shakespeare was quickly fading away.
I remembered when Shamus got so ill in May 2012. His wellness check-up was in February. He got a good report. All was fine. Everything changed in May. He would lie on the floor, his breathing was a bit too rapid and he flopped down on the ground after being outside. His stomach was puffy. I called the vet. That afternoon, I was totally unprepared for what we needed to do. I thought Shamus had another stomach blockage, only this time, it was much worse. He was bleeding internally. The vet suspected a tumor on his spleen but the x-rays could not reveal what was so wrong since there was so much blood. The vet looked at me. “I think it’s time to let him go,” she said. “If I do a blood transfusion and surgery, he will probably bleed out.”
How could I make that decision? I phoned my husband. He rushed to my side, and we agreed that since he was terminal, letting him go would be the only humane thing to do. And so we said our goodbyes. Before the first injection, I sang to him. Choking and almost hysterical, my voice trembled. “I love you, Shamus. I love you so much my precious Shamey-Pooh.” I did not stay with him for the final injection. How I wish I did.
Since November, I’ve debated a thousand times to myself about making that same decision for Shakespeare, my little “Shake n Bake.” I watched him losing more weight. Not eating at times, and walking around only when he had to. Occasionally, he would play with Shadow, the giant we rescued six weeks after losing Shamey-Pooh. I told myself IF he goes without food for two days, it was time.
I knew Shakespeare needed to go to the vet, but I was horrified that I would hear again those horrifying words, “I think it’s time to let him go.”
I wasn’t ready! How could I make that decision again? If it was time to say goodbye to Shakespeare, I did not want to make that decision. In November, I made lists of the pros and cons for Shakespeare. Yes, he occasionally played with Shadow. Yes, he ate – just not every day. I realized he was getting thinner. And thinner.
On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, I could feel all of his ribs and his backbone. He would not eat. He didn’t eat on Monday either. It had been two days since he ate anything.
I made another list:
Is Shakespeare eating? Not on a regular basis.
Was he drinking water? Although I watched him, he didn’t appear to walk towards the water bowl.
Is he walking? Did he get up to go outside? Only IF I coaxed him to go. He wasn’t interested in walking, even if I shook the leashes.
He was a bit hard of hearing and when he went outside, he would not come inside unless he heard me clapping my hands. When he did, he would slowly get up from his corner of the fence and come inside. Sometimes, he flopped down and I would get him. Although he did not like to be picked up, I realized I was carrying him more than he was walking.
Is he playing? No. He would not play with me, or with Shadow. All he wanted to do was to flop down and sleep.
Was he enjoying anything? No. Not even a treat.
Did he stand at the gate by the kitchen watching me cook? No. Not now.
Tuesday morning, I came to the reality it was time — time to let Shakespeare go home.
“But he is at home,” I argued with myself.
The truth was he was shutting down. He was letting go. He was in pain and he was miserable.
I spoke with him, brushing his fur back so I could see his eyes. His eyes were glassy and lifeless.
I called the vet, telling them we thought it was time to let Shakespeare go, but I wanted to see the vet, have him check him over and let me know what he would do, if this was his family member.
My vet has a wonderful demeanor with animals. He greeted Shakespeare and checked him over. A few minutes later he said he suspected Shakespeare was in kidney failure. He wasn’t eating properly and was almost anorexic. He was basically lifeless. Probably lingering on because of us.
Then the vet shocked me, telling me that he had to make the same decision in February and allow his mutt to die with dignity.
Although I realized we were making the same decision, my heart is so broken I cannot stop the tears. A tsunami of tears rushes at me and I cannot fight back. I feel such emptiness. I’ve only slept a few hours every night since we lost Shakespeare. I feel guilt, and I have doubts that we made the right decision. While I rested yesterday morning, I felt something touch my hip. I placed my hand there to rub Shakespeare, only to realize he wasn’t there. Maybe his spirit was connecting with me.
Sudden thoughts entered my mind. Shakespeare was communicating with me. He told me he appreciated the loving home we gave him, and he appreciated that we were letting him go with dignity. He reminded me that he will always be with us in spirit, just like Shamus. He said he could move easier now, but he did miss us. He wanted to know if we could welcome him as a spirit. I patted my hip, talking to him, letting him know we still loved him and we missed him, but we were happy he wanted to return in spirit form. Yesterday afternoon, I heard Shakespeare barking. This morning, I imagined him snoring, and I moved my leg to touch him, only he wasn’t there.
Yes, I miss him, and while writing this another tsunami of tears attack me once again. Deep inside, I know I must go on. Now we have four dogs as family members. I am certain one day, I will probably adopt a rescue, but for now, I will focus on the needs of Shadow, Hank, Sandy Bear and Toby. Believe me, they expect a lot of attention.
Rest in peace my dear, precious Sir Shakespeare Hemingway. Run and play with Prince Marmaduke Shamus and please remain the spirit I so desperately need. You are resting on our mantle, next to Shamus. I love you and will always love you, my silly, Adorable Shake n Bake!
Shakespeare, as a puppy, playing with his favorite toy.