I had planned on spending this first post of the New Year looking back on what turned out to be a mixed year for me. Some good results at prelim, a trip to Ireland, some bad results at prelim, Oh So’s injury and buying Bear, looking ahead to the future.
But then my English Pointer Ramsey died.
I could tell from my dad’s voice on the phone when I called him from the Palm Beach Airport on Saturday night that something was wrong. Our usual phone call consists of me asking how the horses/pets are, him telling me everything is fine, then saying goodbye.
“We had to put Ramsey down,” he said.
My heart almost stopped. “What?” was all I could say. That was the last thing I expected him to say. When I left five days earlier, he was cheerfully running around the yard and sleeping in his usual spot.
Through tears, he and my mom told me the story. On Friday, he began acting lethargic and not wanting to eat. They took him to the vet, who X-rayed him and found a large tumor on his spleen. They sent my dad to the emergency vet because they were closing and the emergency vet confirmed via ultrasound that it was a tumor and that it had burst and Ramsey had internal bleeding. The exact same thing that resulted in our last Pointer being euthanized, although she was much older (so we assumed since she’d just showed up on our doorstep one day).
My dad asked what the next step would be and the vet said that because of his age, probably about 6 or 7, the blood cells were likely cancerous, and even if they did surgery, he would probably only live a couple of months.
Knowing I was on assignment in Florida and would be coming home the next day, my parents decided to take some medication for him and bring him home so I could say goodbye.
They barely slept that night and by the morning, he wasn’t doing well. They knew it was time and that he couldn’t hold on.
Our vet is wonderful. She sat in the room with them and cried, just as she had with our last Pointer. She told them it was the right decision. He was in too much pain to hold on.
After I hung up, I struggled not to break down in the middle of the airport. I hadn’t even boarded my flight yet and would have to sit on the plane for 2 and a half hours.
Needless to say, it was a tough flight as I held back the tears. It just didn’t make any sense. He was perfectly happy and healthy. Besides a twice yearly body scan (which we can’t afford), how can you ever predict something like this? It happened so quickly and I was just in shock.
It’s been very quiet around our house this week. Our four cats know something is up and they’ve been hanging out with all three of us a lot more than usual. Some of them were his buddies.
We all miss our routine. He was a part of the family. My mom waited for him to greet her when she got home and he “helped” her cook dinner every night, waiting for a scrap or two. My dad still listens for the patter of his nails on the hardwood floor when he was ready to go out at night. I miss the feel of his paw in my hand when he wanted to shake (his favorite trick) or his soft amber-red eyes.
He was quiet and unassuming. All he wanted was to be with his people, whether it was on the couch with my mom or sitting by the dinner table.
The house feels empty. When we got Ramsey four and a half years ago sight unseen from Pointer Rescue, he helped us heal our hearts after our Pointer Lucy died. Now they’re broken again.
I feel disconnected from this because I wasn’t able to be there. He was there when I left and gone when I got back. There’s a void now.
The same thing happened with Lucy and I feel awful that my parents had to go through this alone. In fact, at 27 years old, I’ve never been in the room when we’ve had to euthanize a pet, either due to my being too young or being away. I’m not sure if I would want to be there in the room or not. Part of me is glad to have happy memories of Ramsey at his best, but the other part of me wants to say goodbye.
It’s going to take awhile for us to feel better, but for now, we just have to look back and think of the happy memories we have of him–barking at the doorbell and the UPS man, his utter excitement to go outside every time, only to be standing by the door minutes later, chewing on his bone while laying on his bed in full sight of the kitchen.
Ramsey is gone, but not forgotten.