On Tuesday, May 10 we lost our dear shepherd mix, Mable. She was a month shy of 16.
My college internship was with the Michigan Humane Society, in the marketing department. While there, I heard about the foster program and decided to volunteer and take in a foster dog. My first assignment was Barnaby, he was a sweet beagle and was only with me for about 2 weeks. My next assignment was Mable, a black shepherd mix, who was about 2 years old (no one knew for sure).
It was January 2002. I'm still not sure how Mable ended up at the shelter, I think she was surrendered by her owner for one reason or another. Mable was sick though. She had kennel cough, worms, and frostbite. When I opened the door to the quarantine area of the shelter she reared up on her hind legs and was waving at me with her two front paws. She was excited and seemed pretty happy. I'll admit though, driving home with her loose in my car made me nervous, afterall, I didn't know much about her.
She had her issues, like nipping at heels and fingers, and bolting out the door and down the street but we made do. After about a month she had gotten better and it was time for us to return her to the shelter and she was ready to go up for adoption. I designed a cute little flyer describing her in detail, her likes and dislikes. We dropped her off at the shelter and they put her in a stall, as we walked away she reared up on her hind legs and waved to us with a big smile on her face...she didn't know what was happening and my heart broke into pieces. In training, they warned us about getting attached. There's a term, "foster flunky". Within 24 hours, I had gone back to the shelter and adopted her. I still feel guilty for letting her stay that one night in the shelter.
My wedding was 5 months later, so Mable has been with my husband and I from the start. We worked hard with her, lots of training and over time she truly turned into one of the best dogs out there.
She stayed pretty healthy over the years. At around 13, she lost her hearing but her eyesight made up for it. We began seeing signs of degenerative myelopathy, which is a disease of the spinal cord and affects their hind legs. She still got around, but if she stood in one place for any length of time her rear end would sink. At 14 she ended up fighting off vestibular disease, which is the most cruel disease I've ever seen a dog go through. The poor girl had severe vertigo for weeks, couldn't stand or walk, couldn't eat, and was just pitiful. The vet said if we waited it out, she'd come back around and sure enough...she did. She didn't come out of it 100% though and my husband and I swore that if it ever came on again we'd end her suffering.
And that leads me to Tuesday, May 10. That morning she was a little more unstable on her feet than other days, and she wouldn't eat. I left for work and was nervous to what I might be coming home to, I knew the vestibular disease was flaring up again. Sure enough, when I got home, poor Mable couldn't stand and her eyes were darting back and forth trying to focus and find balance. I carried her outside to go to the bathroom and she fell multiple times. She got sick and I called my husband to come home and we made the decision to take her in that evening.
I thank God that the decision was so easy for us. I'm thankful I had no choice in this. We all surrounded her and loved on her until she left us. She was at rest and we will forever cherish our memories of her.