Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good Dog Carl

By Maggie

That's how our puppy Carl got his name back in 1996. We'd bought that great children's book "Good Dog Carl" for my preschool grandson, so when we suddenly fell in love with an 8 week old Rottweiler puppy, my girls said we had to name him Carl. Carl was a sweetie from the start. Full of play and fun. He grew up big and strong and was a wonderful playmate for my darling older dog, Sampson, who was half-Lab & half-Rottie. They made quite a team. Loving and protective. Believe me, vandals, thieves, and all-around baddies stayed away from houses where two big dogs patrolled the backyard.

My darling Sam lived to a wonderful age of 15 and passed in 2004. That's when I got my Border Collie mix, Katie, or "Miss Boss." That was how I discovered Lifeline Puppy Rescue near Denver. Katie was 10 weeks old and 15 lbs. And she proceeded to boss around (herding, actually) big, tough 100-lb Carl. And he let her. Carl was so lonely after Sam passed, he willingly let "Miss Boss" boss him around. He'd complain every now and then. Katie would stand up on her hind feet and put both front feet on Carl's shoulder and start chewing on his ear or his face. He let her. What a sweetie.

By now, most of you can tell where I'm going with this. Last week was a hint when I wrote about the new puppy and how "lonely" Katie had been until I brought Max home from Lifeline Puppy Rescue. Blue Tick Coonhound mic. All adorable and loving and all puppy. Katie once again has a playmate. Because------

This July my sweet, sweet Carl. . .my sugar bear. . .my Big Old Boy passed. He was 12 years old which they say is "old" for big dogs like Rotties. But I was hoping he'd be around longer. Unfortunately a virulent lung cancer took him in two months. Honest. On May 6th, Carl had his "senior well check" and he was fine. Blood work, urine, everything. He even had Xrays of lungs because he was to have his teetch cleaned and they have to put them under w/anesthesia. All appeared fine. Then he began to lose weight. By the end of May he looked skinnier even though I'd increased his food to canned and he was eating like a piggie. He continued to eat heartily all June, but at end of month he looked skinnier. I had a bad feeling. Only one thing does that to people and pets.

Right after July 4th he began to not want to eatr. One meal at first, then another. Finally that next Monday he refused food altogether, even in my hand. I called vet. They took him in the next day and called me later in afternoon to come over and see "what we've found." The Xrays from May showed Carl's lungs to be completely clear and healthy. Then the vet put up that day's Xrays. The lungs were filled--literally filled with lung cancer. If you haven't seen xrays of lung cancer, it looks like white cotton balls are filling up the lungs. Incredible. The vet said it came from a baseball size malignancy that wasn't there in May but now it was. And it had grown rapidly, metastisized, and spread to his lungs. All in two months. She told me he would lose the ability to breathe in a few days and would suffocate. I told her "that's not happening."

I wanted Carl to be able to pass lovingly and peacefully in my arms like my sweet Sam had done four years earlier. So we scheduled it for the next day. So I could have one more day with him. My sweet Carl had protected me all these years, now it was my turn to protect him. Protect him from a painful death. And it was peaceful and loving as it had been with Sam. The vet lets you stay in that special room, holding your beloved pet in your arms as long as you wish. Lets you mourn. Mourning is so important, and our society doesn't really honor it. Death is part of the Cycle of Life. Being allowed to mourn the loss of a loved one actually helps you to heal and to move on. Tears shed in mourning are healing. Truly.

I hadn't said anything to readers and fans publicly about Carl's passing until now. All my friends and my fellow Cozy Chicks knew, but it was hard to write about it. Still is. But, that's part of healing, too. And so is a "new puppy." Park of me thinks Carl's spirit is in Max because Max does some of the same things to Katie that she used to do to Carl. Miss Boss doesn't like it, but she "lets hime do it." Turn around is fair play, I remind her. <g>

Meanwhile----as far as the Kelly Flynn mysteries are concerned, fictional Carl will live forever. In that world, Carl is younger. He was barely two years old when Kelly returned to Fort Connor for Aunt Helen's funeral in KNIT ONE, KILL TWO. So---in Kelly's world----Carl will live forever. For Kelly, for the readers, and for me. Good Dog Carl.