Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ike 4/2000 - 12/2013

My favorite photo, he had a lot of growing to do to fit into that head of his.

It's been ten days since we lost Ike. I finally feel like I can talk about him without busting out into tears. You see, Ike was our first baby, the first pet that Scott and I got together. At the time were living in an apartment in Walnut Creek with Scott's two cats. Scott was in the application process for the CHP but was working for his Dad at his machine shop in Oakland near the Coliseum. Scott called me one day at work and told me that this cute pit bull puppy had wandered over tot he shop and was following him around. He said it appeared that someone had tied him up with car stereo wire that he had chewed through to escape. Scott spoke to a few neighbors but nobody recognized the pup. I told Scott he had to bring home, he would never survive living the streets in that neighborhood and would moist likely end up as a bait dog.

So Scott brought him home to his Mom's house. Barb was on vacation at the time and were taking care of the animals at her house. We figured we would find this cute little puppy a home since we couldn't have dogs at our apartment. This little guy quickly wormed his way in our hearts and it was pretty obvious we would do whatever it took to keep him. Lucky for us Scott's Mom was really generous with the "Surprise! We have a puppy at your house!" Shortly after that Scott found out he had been accepted into the CHP Academy, which meant we needed to move anyway because we couldn't swing the rent on his decreased salary while at the academy for six months. Once again being very generous, we moved in with Scott's Mom for the six month period with our puppy, and two cats. I spent that time looking for a suitable house to rent that would allow for our growing family.

Ike was a good boy and a goofy juvenile as he grew into his big head. He typically didn't know his own strength and pulled on the leash like no bodies business. But at the same time he was a super empathetic dog, he didn't like when we argued and he be super sad if he got in trouble. He just wanted to please us. He had a habit of chewing up toys and swallowing them which resulted in one surgery and very close call for a second one. We really wanted to get him a playmate and I fell in love with a puppy at the EBSPCA where I was a volunteer. We brought Ike into meet him, and lets just say he didn't show his best side. He was resourcing guarding food and toys. I remember the Shelter Manager looking at me and explaining that it just wouldn't work. I was devastated, but we wanted to do what was best for Ike. Maybe what was best for him was to be an only dog.

I continued volunteering at the SPCA and one day at work before the 4th of July holiday I got a call from the Volunteer Manager, asking if I could emergency foster a 3 legged puppy who was recovering from her surgery after having her leg amputated. I had fostered little puppies once before and it was a nightmare. I kept them in the bathtub to keep the mess contained (they were Chihuahua mixes, so they were small) but they were stinky and high maintenance. We said we were never fostering after that. But it was right before a holiday weekend and I figured "how much trouble could a 3 legged dog be).

This little girl was so sweet and so thankful for being out of the shelter. Much to our amazement, Ike was incredible with her. His empathy really came into play. He knew she was recovering and that she was special because she only had three legs. He was so gently with her, it really amazed me. We were schedule to foster her for three weeks, but after two weeks they called me and said they felt she was ready to come back to the shelter and be adopted. Scott was out of town when I told him the news. We were really worried about who she would be adopted to. It was obvious to us that her surgery hadn't gone as well as it could and that she would likely need one more surgery in her lifetime. We were really worried that someone would not do this for her because of the expense. When I spoke to Scott about bringing her back to the shelter he asked if we could keep her a few more days so that he get home and say goodbye to her. That was it, if he needed to say goodbye, we needed to keep her. It was a done deal and we turned into failed foster parents and officially adopted Tacoma.

These two became the best of friends. Tacoma didn't like toys so that suited Ike just fine. Even though she would occasionally steal a new toy from just because she was that bratty sister, he never growled at her. Eventually she grew tired of the toy and he would get it back. We always fed them separately so there would be no squabbles over food. Like toys, Tacoma has never been food driven like Ike, so that worked out well for their relationship.

Mostly Tacoma would herd Ike and nip at his back legs. He used to get little sores on his legs from where she would nip him, but he never let it bother him. Play was always on her terms, she would frequently put her one front paw up on his back to engage him play, but she trusted him so much not to hurt her or play too rough. Tacoma was your typical bratty sister, if Ike was where she wanted to be, she would just lay on top of him until he moved.

People always thought they were actual litter mates because they had the same brindle coloring, but Ike was a pit/boxer mix and Tacoma is a whippet mixed with some sort of herding breed.

In February Ike developed some eye issue where there appeared to be pressure on his eyeball. We brought him, tried some various meds but couldn't really figure out what was wrong. In my heart, I knew that 2013 would be his last year with us. While the eye seemed to improve, I noticed that it seemed like he was losing some hearing, or just specifically ignoring me, either was really a possibility. In August when we came back from a vacation, we noticed a lump on his throat, it felt like half of a tennis ball. We brought him back in a biopsied the outer tissue. the results came back inconclusive but suspicious. I had a sinking suspicion that was related to his eye issue earlier in the year and perhaps even his hearing. We had three options, none of which seemed like great options. One was to send him to a specialist, two was to put him under and do another biopsy at our vets office, three was to try meds that would hopefully reduce the tumor in size. Surgically removing it was not an option because of it's size and location, even biopsy was a risk because of it's location on the jugular and even just the anesthesia was risky. We ruled out a specialist because I knew I would not do chemo or radiation for him. Hus quality of life was the most important thing to me, and I felt putting him though that would quickly lesson his quality of life and probably not save him. The biopsy seemed to risky, I didn't want to loose him on the operating table. We opted for the meds, after a couple of weeks it was evident that the meds weren't making a difference. The tumor had basically doubled in size. Our vet agreed that the best thing to do was make him as comfortable and as happy as we could until it was time to say goodbye.

We spent a lot of time talking to he kids about what it all meant and trying to prepare them for hi s loss. He was treated to steak and banana pancakes every weekend until we had to switch him to a canned diet to keep his food down. Tacoma slept by his side everyday. As he slowly lost his vision, he finally got his payback to his little sister by laying on top of her because he couldn't see her.

Saying goodbye was the hardest thing we have ever done. I was with him to the end, he wagged his tail and gave me kisses as I said goodbye.

Life has not been the same without him but we are all making adjustments and giving lots of extra love to Tacoma. Pets bring us so much happiness and love, the hardest part is having to let them go. I wish we had more time together but I'm so thankful for the life we lived together.

His first trip to Lake Tahoe

Tacoma chewing on Ike's scarf trying to get him to play


  1. I love that picture of Ike at Lake Tahoe. {{hugs}} to all of you. Sleep well, Ike.

  2. *sob* Just heartbreaking but he was well loved and left his mark on all of you.