Allow me to start off by saying that the story of Pete and his brothers and sisters should have been a lot longer of a story but the condensed story below sums it up in a nut shell as they say. I wish I could have focused on just the good stuff but to describe our story about Pete without the heartache and adversity too would have been a half story. That said, I appreciate those that read the whole story and remember it should have been longer:|
We were lucky enough to find Pete wandering homeless shortly after we moved from NY to AZ. He was in need of everything from food and water to medical attention and we could tell he would not have lasted much longer in the heat of the desert. I was finishing up helping a neighbor with a landscape project when I heard some neighbors not too far away talking about a loose dog. I said to myself that no way could it be my 2 dogs that we always made sure were safe from getting out of the house or yard for that matter. So I finished up the landscape job and approached those neighbors and asked about the loose dog I heard them conversing about. They described him and said that they tried to get him to come to them but he was scared. I went home and grabbed my bike to search the area they said he went towards and sure enough, there he was in a shaded area looking as pathetic as he could. He started to bark at me as to let me know he meant business (all 10 lbs of him ;), so I sat down at the curb and said to him "You let me know when you want to come over and talk about it" and within 10 seconds he began to make his way over with just the most pathetic look of help me written all over his face. So I asked him if he wanted to go for a bike ride and he accepted, so I scooped him up in my right hand and we headed home. Now my wife and I were not even working yet since moving to AZ in late 2004 to the new home we had built. We already had 2 dogs to feed, a mortgage and the uncertainty of what AZ would provide for us. My wife was out grocery shopping that day in March of 2005, so I called her to tell her I found what was a unique looking specimen of a dog. I thought he might be part pit but with all the scabby sun burned skin that turned out to be mange, bloated belly and cow spot like marks all over his skin, we just figured we would worry about what he was later. We got him fed, watered and then tried to find a vet that would get us in asap so that we could introduce him into the household with our other 2 dogs. Only place that would get us in was an old horse vet with very primitive style vet care. Long story short on that note was that Pete went undiagnosed with Tick Fever and the vet had us treating the mange with some chemical we had to mix with large amounts of water and pour over his body but make sure that we greased his eyes up first to make sure not to damage his vision. Seemed like a primitive way to get rid of mange but we did it with reluctancy. Well when he was not getting better, a neighbor suggested we try her vet and that is where Pete's health took a turn for the better now that the tick fever was being treated.
Now our intent was to rehab Pete and find him a good home with all of our uncertainty just being in AZ less than 6 months. I went back to work first in July of 2005, so my wife had at least 3 or 4 months of bonding with Pete while she nursed him back to health before she too went back to work. That said, I knew that we were no longer finding him a home elsewhere so dog #3 was here to stay. Besides, the other 2 liked Pete very much which was nice. Just an odd trio though as we had a Doberman (Casssie) and a Min Pin (Maynard) and then Pete who was part shar pei and maybe pit and cow or manatee as some people would joke. My wife was not fond of the jokes by the way. So with the crazy housing market back in 2004 thru 2008, we decided to build a slightly bigger home just south of our current one. Hey we need a little more room as Pete was getting bigger right? So we moved into the new digs in March of 2006 and somewhere along the way, Cassie and Pete built this bond that was just strange to watch but very inspiring as Pete was just the dog that made you love him. After dinner every night, they wrestled a bit before sitting face to face. Pete would suck on Cassie's ears while she sucked on his toes and it was just so cool to watch them connect like a mother and son would. Cassie was around 7 or 8 years old at the time and Pete was barely 2. Pete had developed some type of growth just below his right shoulder blade that looked like a tumor but it was on top of the skin and not internal. It was there for a few weeks before Cass decided to start to work on that vs sucking his toes. She licked and licked and licked until that cherry tomato sized growth was all but gone. She healed him of that growth which was quite amazing. We think with all the skin issues Pete showed up with, that this was just the beginning of what would probably be life long problems. He would not let us cut his nails once he was big enough to fight us off so we had to take him to a groomer monthly for that. One of the few things Pete put up resistance to was those darn toe nails. Everything else he was just as cooperative as possible.
Well it was 2006 and our dobie Cass had fallen ill with lymphoma. What a trying time that was as we had also moved my wife's parents out to AZ from NY as their lives were coming to an end and we felt that we needed to step up and take care of them as well. Cassie's treatments started in August of 06 and ended in February of 07 with a remission bandana neatly placed around her neck during her final visit to oncology. A few months later she fell ill just prior to Memorial Day weekend so we took her to the vet for a nagging cough she had developed. It was her lungs taking in fluid so they sent us home with meds that we had a feeling would not work. Friday evening of Memorial Day Weekend was strange as we just got back from the Vet for Cassie so we decided to bust out some new chews and treats for Cass, Maynard and Pete. It was like a celebration for those guys so it was fun to watch and even though Cass was ill, for those few hours she seemed to be ignoring her illnesses and having a ball with Maynard and Pete. The next day which was Saturday of the holiday weekend and Cass decided that she was no longer going to eat or drink that morning so I knew that we were heading for something bad. My wife went to the store for groceries and I stayed home with the crew. We were also taking care of my wife's parents in the previous months and unfortunately my wife's mother had passed away shortly after coming to AZ. We had her Dad living with us so we had a lot going on and as I type this story, I am now wondering how we coped with all these adversities but you just do what you gotta do I guess and we did. Well unforunately Cass passed away in my office next to my desk while I was talking with my brother in CA on the phone. I had to abruptly hang up on him as I knew she was struggling so I immediately got down in her dog bed with her. I was able to say a few things to her before her last breath. What a great relief I felt for her but I was soon leveled with great sadness of my own. My wife came home asap to help with the situation and we even had Maynard and Pete view Cassie's body before we took her to the vet for storing prior to cremation. I should be more detailed about that turn of events but it all happened so quick and let's face it, it was 8 years ago too. Over the next few days Pete was showing signs of depression and Maynard thought he did something wrong and hid in my wife's office. Seems like yesterday that this happened~
Fast forward to 2012 (5 years after Cassie died) as we had some real health issues arise with Pete and he was finally diagnosed with Auto Immune Poly Arthritis in 2012 where his own immune system would attack healthy tissue in his body instead of the areas that were effected which would have led to healing and not more problems. If he had a simple alergy, his immune system would attack his skin and joints so it was just baffling to say the least. Did I mention before that diagnosis Pete had a mass that attached itself to one of his lymphnodes in his neck? We were like "Oh no not Lymphoma like Cassie" but we got luckie as it was just a mass that was non cancerous. We did battle with the Auto Immune situation for three years and inbetween that Pete even had Bloat where his stomach got twisted inside his body and required emergency surgery that almost ended his life in 2014 but he helped us fight to get what turned out to be a little over a year of extended life and we would do it again if we had to looking back on it. We were on a good run from April of 2014 through the end of April 2015 where Pete started having labored breathing after a short alergy bout and we knew that there was great concern when it kept persisting after a few days. The vet was optimistic that all we had was a little bronchitis and that Prednisone should clear it up. No such luck though and the last week of what was 3 weeks total of the labored breathing was grueling for us and especially Pete but he just could not get better. On the day he died we were taking him to the Vet in haste after a sleepless night before watching over him but he died just 2 blocks from the place we were taking him to. We knew if we had made it, that there would have been grim news and that we would have had to make the decision for him. I don't think my wife (who was holding him in the back seat when he passed) or myself will ever forget that moment as he died in similar fashion to the way Cassie did where they gasp their last breath and then gone. Are we glad that he chose to go on his terms vs us having to do it for him? I don't know but I think the sadness would have been a little bit worse had we had to make the choice for him. I think Pete did not want us to have to do that and therefore he did us a great favor for all that we did for him over the years. Tail still wagging right before he left us as if to say thank you so much for taking care of me. We had a good run with Pete but there was something about him that makes this hurt real bad for both myself and especially my wife as their bond was unique and let's face it, we wanted him to live forever as 10 years was just too short. With the stresses of life these days and more so for my wife who still works on the corporate side of things. One of the only things that made her feel better at the end of any day is when she pulled into the driveway and the crew (at it's peak was 5 dogs strong- 6 if you counted me) would be going nuts until she got inside. Her favorite greeter was Pete for the last 10 years. She loves all the dogs just about equally but with Pete, there was no better cure for the blues than him. I would watch the two of them and it would make me very happy to see her forget the events of a work day. I just knew that when the day came and Pete had to go, that it would be difficult and difficult it still is. We now fight the tears and sadness as we think if Pete were still here that he would be sad too and that is not what we would have wanted him to see, is our sadness caused by his leaving. As for me, I was lucky that I spent more time with Pete as I work from home and was able to care for him which put my wife's mind at ease when she was on the road or out of town. I think the stars aligned perfectly for us to take care of Pete. My wife made a good point about the void that we feel right now has a lot to do with the fact that we took care of him as he needed a care giver most of the time and we both had our tasks daily. From the work of making home cooked meals, to the weekly baths, the monitoring of his temperature when he had fevers, to holding him down and comforting him while his nails were trimmed (he hated his toes being touched) as well as many trips to the vets. Now we have a lot of spare time unfortunately but I think Pete is happy for us now that he is less of a project (yes I said project and not burden as Pete was never a burden as he returned the favor and more with his presence).
I went to have Pete cremated on what was the Saturday of Memorial Day 2015 and did it as a witness so that I was assured that I would get his ashes back and not some other persons special friend. I got to see Pete one last time and he looked like he was in a very pain free state of sleep which made me feel good as the last time I saw him he was in such pain and stress that it tore us to shreds. I did the same witness cremation with Cassie back in 2007 and will continue to do the same for all my pets as they pass. I think I mentioned above that Cass had died on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend back in 2007 at the age of 10 and now I am having Pete cremated on that same Saturday 8 years later also at the age of 10. I keep bringing that up as it has got to be some kind of message from the universe right? What are the odds that 2 dogs with such a connection die right around the same time 8 years apart? Even though as I speak, I have mixed emotions about Memorial Day Weekend moving forward but it will make it easier to think about 2 of our best friends ever and smile that we had the privledge and pleasure of having them in our lives. I sure hope that one day we meet again in the next life but I really don't know what awaits us when we die. It just depends on any given day how I feel about the after life and if there is one. My wife has a stronger faith that we will see them again and I am glad that she has a stronger faith than I do. I know that if there is an after life and we get there, I sure hope that all of our pets from our lives are there to greet us (especially Pete and Cassie) and that we can pick up where we left off when things were good. Anything else would not be much of an after life. For now, my wife and I will direct our focus on our other 4 dogs that we have taken in over the years off the streets for the most part but Maynard now 13 will more than likely get top dog honors. Having them around during such a devastating time has helped greatly, so for those of you out there that have just one dog or no dog at all, do yourself and your best friend a favor and help another pet out there in need of a good home. Never let the grief of losing a loved one deter you from moving forward and helping out what are many homeless and or shelter animals. I happen to think it is why we are here on this planet and while it may be a lot of work, always remember the animals need our help. It takes sacrifice and committment but don't let that scare you away from taking in a friend and changing your life in ways that you never knew of. After all, it is unconditional love that they give us in return.
Pete, We always knew that you were this special thing that came into our lives for a reason. Now that you are gone we know even more so how important you were to us. Pete, we miss you and hope that you and Cass have been reunited and that you wait for us so that we can go back to the way things were when everything was perfect. Til then we will miss you both greatly. Oh and we know there are several other freinds of ours from over the years that you will also meet as we would not want to forget about all the others that we have crossed paths with in our time on this planet and there will be more to come. You and Cassie will make great gate keepers until the day comes when we can all be together again. Wouldn't that be grand.
Bye for now~
Mom, Dad, Maynard, Neveah, Vinny and Abbey