Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Watson: My Dog

Mid-week I happened to on my way home from a petroleum cleanup site in Houlton when she called me.  Wife found a small private farm advertising the 5 week old Aussie Pups the Uncle Henrys.  I was right near by and planned to meet her at the farm.  While standing among two litters of baby Aussies one of them walk up behind us, tap me on the foot, and sat down at heel position.  As if to say, 'Hey, Pick Me."  
 After waiting a few weeks for him to grow to 8 weeks by the 10th week we had started a puppy obedience training class.  This went very well, thou the memorable moment was when we learned that he could be submissive and peed on the floor from fear of the training woman once.  But from that we learned how to use the clicker training technique and his behavioral keys to understand how to maximize his potential.
Shortly afterward Wife took Watson for agility training classes.  This mostly served to reinforce voice commands.  When he was 3 and 4 years old Wife also found a woman in Stonington who had sheep and did herding instruction.  That was expensive but worth it for the few extra voice commands he learned, such as 'out' 'in' and the hand commands to wave him left or right.  
An incredibly loving dog Watson would lick the wax out of your ear then move over to your mouth if you'd let him.  More than once he basically 'french kissed' me. So gross.  Snuggling in bed was an exceptional skill.

Every day, rain or shine, 365 days a year he demanded high energy play.   And we gave it to him just about as much as he needed and we could handle.   During winter Wife and I would often switch half way through a session so that the other could warm up by the fire inside.  Frisbee was his athletically preferred sport, following a close second with chasing an 10" rubber ball (Jolly Ball).
In short he was the best dog ever.
But it only  took three weeks.  He had developed a cough.   We took him to the vet and found that his lympnodes were swollen but it might me a result of kennel cough. He was given some meds, that by Wednesday we knew were not working.  Watson stopped eating. And running much.  And was now sleeping out side for the whole night, alone.  
I went back to the vet with W ('W' pronounced Dubya, short for Watson) and I was told that he had lymphoma. Cancer of the lymph system.  This was not good.  We got a referral to a vet in Portland and got the next available visit.  
 Tuesday 9:30.  When I got in with the vet tech and started to give her some background on W, I totally started crying. BooHoo-n' even.  I knew by now. I had a whole day to google the shit out of the topic.  And by this morning his eye had tinted yellow. A sign of jaundice and an indication of  cancer migration  into his liver.  The Portland vet said he was to Stage IV probably even V by this point. That indicated to me how aggressive the disease was.  We, of course, talked about the chemo treatments but it just does not make sense to spend that kind of money (5-grand) only to extend our own emotional and physical agony.  And he may only live for 6 months.  No.  That is not good for us or him.
I texted Wife, she was at work: 
'Can you come home?'
 'To say goodbye'.
I had scheduled for the vet to lay Watson down that afternoon.  I had too, it was the only way.  We went in at 1:50pm.  
Holding Watson as he died,  hearing and watching as he exhaled his last two spastic breaths was without a doubt the saddest day of my life and I feel a profound deep sadness for him.
We decided to have him cremated.  The place that conducted it did an excellent job, and even included some clipping of his fur and a little certificate with his paw stamp. 
I will miss Watson forever.

We got Watson, a Red Merle colored, Australian Shepard, in Old Town, Maine in May 2003.  
He died of lymphoma on  November 9, 2010.