Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Skruffy Finally Has Her Last Bark

Christmas Eve Morning... 


Long time blog readers know about Skruffy…a few have even met her.  In late June 2016 Skruffy got very, very sick while we were in Alaska.  Meezie at the Soldotna Animal Hospital saved her life, giving Marcia and I another 3 1/2 years with my beloved Skruffy…for that, we will always be beholding to Meezie and the Soldotna Animal Hospital.  

Monday morning, yesterday, was like any other morning…Around 6:45 I let Skruffy and Bubba out, she heads to the sliding glass door and barks and barks until Arny opens the door, then goes inside and barks some more.  Just another day…just another bark.  

Around 11 I head out to do one last load of laundry.  Around noon Marcia texts me to say that Skruffy threw up, and 30 minutes later another text which says, “Again”.  I arrive back by 1:30 and test her…her glucose reading was in the mid-90’s, which is good…but she lost all her breakfast when she threw up.  At 4 she gets her last Sandy Treat, very small amount of pork, which she eats…her last meal because by 7 pm, she turns her nose away from her dinner. 

For the next 15 hours she struggles, drinking lots of water, tossing up the water, going inside, outside, inside, outside.  I gave her some Pedialyte by syringe to get some nourishment in her…I held her on my chest from midnight till after 2 am, and she finally did get some sleep.  We crawled into bed and she slept another 4 hours, I could not fall asleep and returned to my reclining chair.  At 6:15 she jumps off the bed, waking me up, and goes to the Pedialyte in her water dish, then wants outside.  At 6:35 Arny opens up the drapes, I let Bubba out, but Skruffy doesn’t bark, doesn’t take her treat.  I bring her back inside, and I hold her, remembering the struggle she went through up in Alaska.  Now she was close to 13 years old, at least 12 years old…you never know with rescue dogs just how old they are.

By 9:30 we knew it was time to take her to a vet, and in my heart and mind I knew she wasn’t coming back.  Goodbyes to Marcia, to Sandy, to Arny…  I went alone just like it was the first night we had together…and the many nights more until Marcia and Bubba arrived in our lives.

It was a short conversation with the vet, the decision was made.  I held her tight and said my goodbyes, thanking her for all the joy she brought into my life for the past 10 years.  I reminded her of all we have done and seen, but she just laid there fairly limp.  How can a dog go from barking with joy to being so lifeless in just 26 hours?  The wise Vet tells me that most dogs with Diabetes are lucky to live two more years…that we had done good getting 3 1/2 years.  Of course, that does not ease the pain, and she knows that, but still, it was of some comfort.

The only time I was alone was when they took her to put a port into her front leg.  I eagerly took her into my arms when she returned.  I petted her on the table as I waited for the Vet to come…then decided to pick her up and sit down with her, holding her, telling her how much I loved her.  Memories flowed, many of which are in the first blog about Skruffy’s Last Bark which is presented below.

The Vet enters and asked if I wanted to hold her or did I want her up on the table…of course, I held her…just like I did that first night that I got her…that night when she first let the world know that she owned me.

Her passing was quick, painless, her weak heart giving out within seconds of the second shot…the Vet told me she was gone.  Then, unexpected to me, she let out her last breath…and as if to pay me back for what I wrote below back when we were in Alaska, she let out her last breath again, and then again.  The Vet listened again for her heart, there was nothing.  “Sometimes they just do that,” she says.  I cannot reply.

I drive to a dog park that I had seen many times going back and forth to mom and dad’s previous Assisted Living Facility.  Tears flow..memories flash by.  I send my kids and my sister Patti, and others the following text:
Skruffy got sick yesterday, why we just don’t know…but she no longer has pain and is on Papa’s lap right now with my first dog Snoopy.  I miss them three so very much…
On my way back to the motorhome sitting in my sister’s backyard, I have a vision of Skruffy running through a large grassy field, the wind gently blowing, the sun’s warmth shinning down, she barks happy barks.  Skruffy looks back at me, her ears flapping as they did, her tail just wagging and wagging.  “Look Dad, I can run again…there is no pain, and I can see everything so clearly…

Below is the blog post of Friday, July 8, 2016 from Soldotna Alaska

Skruffy's Last Bark?

Breath in, breath out...
I remember that day as if it was yesterday, the day of the rescue. She brings you to me, sets you in my lap. I pet your head, your ears, your collarless neck. My hand roams down to your chest, and to your tummy...you bend and twist giving me access to the lower tummy as if I had been doing this all your life. She comes back to take you from my arms, you give that Skruffy growls of yours. “Oh my!” she exclaims. “What?” I ask. “She has proclaimed it already...in just ten short minutes...she owns you...” Owns me? I wonder...I thought I was rescuing her, not the other way around. She, Skruffy, is right...she owns me now. She owns a part of my heart that only Snoopy had seen before. My cats, no way...yes, they were loved, but the heart strings they never touched. Some people have a special place in their hearts for dogs...some for cats...many don't have it at all. But the dogs and cats know who you are, and they gladly take advantage of taking their own little leash and tie it right to that special place into your heart...as Skruffy had done to me.
Again I hear it...breath in, breath out...
Those cold, wet, thunder filled nights as you were lost out in that large lot before the rescue, hiding under trucks, took something from your heart girl...you never wanted to be alone again...you never wanted to be away from he, from me, the one you now owned. To work with me you came, out of desperation at first, but within days it became the norm. Eventually I could leave my office without you barking...for 5 minutes first, then ten...I don't think you ever made it to fifteen. But eventually your barking became a single solitary bark, followed by listening for my voice, sniffing to try and find my scent. Staff would come in and say, “It's alright Skruffy girl, he will be back real soon.” The Library would quiet down again, for 5 or 10...then that bark came back, followed by listening, followed by smelling, followed by yet another bark. And when I return the joy is indescribable...it was if I was gone for hours and hours, yet it had only been 20 to 30 minutes. Yes, my little girl, I am back...and quiet again reigned...until the next time I had to step out. Had my office had a hard floor instead of carpet, I would have heard the tap tap tap of your little feet as they move back and forth from excitement. Oh, how I love that sound.
There it is, I hear it again...breath in, breath out...
You eventually earned my trust, I'd let you go off leash from the car to inside our trailer at the RV Park...unless you saw a squirrel off in the distance, and away you ran despite my pleas. From tree to tree you would go as squirrels would be alerted and shoot up into the trees. Your short little legs would carry you fast and far, your ears flapping in the wind, your bark breaking the silence, except for the chirping of the birds. I followed as quick as I could, I call out to your deafening ears, but eventually your lungs give out, your legs grow tired.  You turn and look at me like, “Why are you breathing so hard, it was I who was running all around? But did you see them, did you?? Squirrel after squirrel, and they all ran up into the trees afraid of little me!” When the library was closed and it was only us there, I would let you go off leash from the car into the Library, or from the Library to the car...until that one Saturday evening when you saw a wedding carriage being pulled by a pair of horses, way across the huge parking lot, heading to the hotel across the street for their reception. Off you ran, barking and barking...I could only imagine how much larger each of those horses started to look as you got within 90 yards, within 70 yards, because around 50 yards you stop...you give them your three Skruffy Barks, you turn and walk triumphantly back to me...wondering why I have my hands up to my brow shaking my head back and forth as you walk, head raised high...but then you stop, look back and give another Skruffy bark. You come to me, stop short looking at me like, “Well, I doubt they will mess with Skruffy again!”
And again...breath in, breath out...
Then into our lives came two others. “Who is she, and does 'he' have to come with her?” you wondered. “Yes I have found another to share my life with, but don't worry, my dear Skruffy, you still own me. And as for 'he', he is Bubba...your new brother, but don't worry, you are still going to be the queen.” Within a year the Library becomes a retired memory, and now even more travels. Before Marcia and Bubba came into our lives, we had traveled up to Missouri to visit papa and grandma a few times, and you even went with me to Denver for some meetings that I had—remember you went to the Doggie Daycare, where I could watch you over the Internet while listening to speaker after speaker in my meeting talking about Library stuff. After Marcia and I married, there were times she needed to be in Florida while you and I still had to work at the Library. We would travel back and forth to Florida during those times. If we stopped so I could get some rest, you would watch out the window protecting our little car. Oh how I will miss those barks that awoke me so many times. But now we have a motorhome, and the real travels begin. 
A bit fainter now...breath in, breath out.
Our first trip took all four of us to many fascinating places...the large trees of Sequoia, the wonderful walls and falls of Yosemite, the tall Coastal Redwoods, the deep blues of Glacier Lake, the waves along the Oregon Coast, the aroma of the Roses in Portland, the devastation of Mount St. Helens, the elk and buffalo of Yellowstone, the Mountains of Glacier Park. We saw bears, goats, sheep, deer, elk, buffalo and antelope. Future trips over the next few years included places like Zion and Arches, the balloons of Albuquerque, the homes of Mesa Verde, the deep dark forest of Olympia, names on rock walls along the Oregon Trail, cheese and ice cream from Tillamook. Every time we stopped the motorhome, there were new smells, new places to mark, new adventures for you and Bubba. Of course, there was always your favorite place of all...the backyard of Sandy and Arnys...where the squirrels were so close you could touch them, the grass so green and luscious that you could lay in it, treats so plentiful, and so many family and friends around. You could be trusted completely now, and off leash you would run over to Papa’s and Grandma's since they moved back to California and lived next door to Sandy. Of course, I overlook that time you, off leash, you decide to take off up the hill while visiting the Redwoods...or at that large park in Oregon where you saw some squirrels off in the distance...and into the distance you ran until your little legs got tired and you walk back to me who was in chase.
Fainter still...breath in, breath out...a hesitation.
You earned your badge in later years, you became a Service Dog for Marcia, to assist with certain needs. There were always those few months where you were needed at the Condo, no brother around, you had us to yourself. Then winter would be over, and off we would travel again. You heard me calling out for a long drive north, to Alaska I say, where there would be so much space, so many things to see, clean air to breath, and so many animals. But it was there that a new frontier opened up. A sore at first, then near death which tore my heart wide open, until we found she, the fisherman of small dogs, who tries to bring you back to us so that we could enjoy more time, more travels, until that last breath, that last hesitation which does not stop, the cold taste of death. And then I will be owned no more... free from your dedication, your love, your barks, your scratches, your walks. Then it will be your time to play with Snoopy, no pain, never fearing to be alone again. 
A bit stronger now...breath in, breath out...
That fisherman, she is not only a great fisherman, but she is also a great veterinarian. She sits up with you way after hours, she instantly falls for you, just as so many others have. The right dosage of this, the right amount of liquid food to run through your veins. All the while I have put out word onto our blog, on Facebook, through text messages and phone calls (though the calls are few since it is hard for the words to come out)...PRAY for our little Skruffy Girl! A few days later, after many visits to see you, after many prayers too numerous to count, you come home with us. It is struggle, but you are calmer at home, you sleep, you start to eat, you start to recover. Then the set-back hits...it is 4th of July weekend, but we handle it, and you get stronger yet. Finally the news today...test show you are in full recovery...the cold taste of death will need to wait for another day...many years as far as we are concerned. But the thought of losing you...the thought of being free...why does it hurt so very much? I don't want to break those chains which are connected to that part of my heart. I now have a taste, again, of what it will be like to have that part of my heart empty again, I don't like it – the ache is beyond description. How fortunate we are that we found the Soldotna Animal Hospital, found that fisherman of little dogs who goes by the name of Meezie, and how blessed we are that God has heard and answered those many prayers. My heart is filled with joy...the ache will need to wait for another day...another year...many years I hope.
Much stronger now...breath in, breath out...and there it goes, “BARK, BARK, BARK”, yes, the Skruffy bark is back, it is like music to our ears, it warms the heart just so... Last Bark? Nope, many more barks to come!


  1. I'm so sorry Dave. She had a good life with you and Marcia.

  2. Sorry for your loss Dave. This post is a tribute as to how deeply our pets affect our well being. Scruffy was a true inspiration.

    1. She came into my life at a time when life was hard...she made it so much easier and happier.

  3. OH NOOOOOOOOO! I'm so very sorry. As if you haven't had enough pain already, this is unbearable. Yes we all know they won't live forever, but it doesn't ease the pain of losing them. I love the image of Skruffy running through the field with ears flapping. I'm going to remember that one. You gave that puppy the best life ever!

    1. To go from happy and barking to deathly sick so quick. Could have spent a ton of money to find out exactly what went wrong, but it wasn't going to save her so why do it?? As to how we feel? It is like a double barrel shotgun hit us in the chest...first shot at Thanksgiving, the second shot on Christmas Eve. Glad God gave us such big big hearts...


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