Monday, November 19, 2007

Time to Give Thanks to a Dear Friend--But How Do You Say Goodbye?

Everyday for the past several years, after I sent my family off to school and work, I have a faithful companion by my side. He would follow me into my office and be my alarm if when someone drove up the driveway or knocked on the door. Sitting at my feet, thumping his tail, Tikki has been our family dog for nearly 16 years. I am lucky and thankful for my wonderful canine companion!

Tikki is an Australian Shepard mix that was thrust upon us by some family friends years ago. He was a playful pup that grew up with the kids. Tikki's sheparding instincts kept the kids from running too far. The boys weren’t too happy about the dog biting the tops of their shoes. When you are a wobbly toddler it doesn’t take much to knock you down!

When Tikki joined the family, we still lived in a North St Paul neighborhood. He had a fenced yard and great insulated dog house for protection. Although, he only went inside the structure once, to pull out all of the insulation! Tikki preferred the company of his boys! He loved to run and play with his kids! He was tough on the house though. Puppy chewing was a problem, but with training we kept the damage to a minimum. Dog hair was another issue all together. Having baby gates allowed us to keep the family pet confined to the downstairs and the hair problem to a minimum.

When we moved to our Ham Lake
acreage, Tikki was in his glory. He had more room to run; more places to explore. We added to kittens to the family and our pet allotment was complete.

Two and a half acres in the country beats a double city lot any day! Tikki spent entire days on the front porch in the sun watching for bunnies and squirrels to chase; gophers and moles to dig up in the yard. He never did get one of those fast moving rodents but did manage to a scare up a mole once on a walk with my son. I don’t know who was more alarmed, the mole, the dog or my son as they were all within inches of each other.

In the past few years we have noticed that Tikki was slowing down. People would make comments like, “You still have Tikki? How old is he?” And “15 years, that’s old for a dog.” We started to research older dog health. My husband designed a website,
www.olddogpaws.com with the information that we compiled. It was a goal to keep our friend as an integral part of our family for as long as possible.

A year or so ago, we noticed that Tikki’s limp had gotten worse. His bark had turned into a raspy noise that we call the “old dog bark”. His back right leg would shake and go out on him completely from time to time. We would watch, worry and warn our boys that their beloved dog wouldn’t be with us forever.

Around this same time, my husband and I started that big discussion remodel or move again. With Tikki aging, the discussion turned into a big circle and has put
everything on hold. The dog could never be confined to one room and his toenails would ruin hardwood floors like they have ruined the decade old vinyl flooring in our kitchen and laundry room. Accidents have been happening more frequently which damage new carpet, sometimes beyond repair. Being in real estate, it is hard to watch your pet destroy parts of your home. One door has been scratched up as he recently started to paw at the door to get our attention. He is no longer able to bark. Repairs would have to be made to sell. New flooring could be damaged if remodeled so we continue in a holding pattern for our friend’s sake.

Then suddenly last fall, one of our beloved family cats died of heart failure. The boys were devastated as there was no preparation and no time to say goodbye. For the past year, thankfully, our Tikki-Dog stayed with the family, somewhat healthy and able to help the boys through their sadness.

About a month or so ago, we noticed the limp was getting worse. Tikki didn’t want to go inside the house after walking and doing his business. He couldn’t walk up the steps with his arthritic back legs. Looking closer his right leg had started to atrophy and twist. He rarely put pressure on his right foot at all. His thumping tail wagged no more.

We can no longer avoid the inevitable. My husband and younger son built Tikki a ramp a few weeks back…Carefully designing one that is sturdy but is not permanently attached to our new cedar steps. Now Tikki can go in and out of the house more easily. But as days go on we realize that the time is getting closer to when we will have to say goodbye. We live in Minnesota and the ice and snow are coming. Tikki needs strong back legs to avoid slipping on the sidewalk in the winter.

Last week, after a particularly bad day, I made the call to the veterinarian for information on euthanasia. Even though it was only for information so we know the procedure when the time comes, even thought nothing is scheduled, I broke down on the phone. There is a reality that hits when you form the words; have the discussion. It is very hard.
My family continues to take Tikki’s condition day by day; spending time with our friend. Petting him and talking to him. But we know that actual day to say farewell is coming soon. We are thankful for the many years we have had with our beloved pet. But how do you say goodbye to a friend who has been at your side for a third of your life? Or, like my boys, all of your life? The answer is very, very slowly.

Well, today’s not the day…Come on Tikk…Let’s go for your walk!


If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

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