UPDATE: On August 2nd, the day this article posted, Sundae took a turn for the worse. She was no longer able to get up. Although we helped her up, she wasn’t able to stay up for more than a couple of minutes before collapsing. We knew it was time. Sundae spent most of her last day surrounded by her people, her family, cheeseburgers and Christmas lights. She went peacefully at the vet’s office on a warm blanket with some of her favorite stuffed animals while Angie and I cradled her head, petting her, telling her we loved her and thanking her for all the joy she has given us. We’re glad we were there right up to her last breath as our final gift to her. Sundae never made a lot of noise as she got older, but the silence she leaves behind is so very loud.
I wish I didn’t have to write this post.
It isn’t so much the post, but the reason behind it. Sundae is my dog. As she has gotten older (13 years old, the typical life expectancy of a Siberian Husky is 12 years, and in rarer cases, 15 years) she has lost some of her spark but has always been happy and independent (as Huskies like to be). She had developed arthritis earlier in the year which means she walks a little slower; she pivots instead of turning while walking, she’s a slow riser. But for the most part, happy as can be. Last week my wife and I noticed she was more sluggish and had a sudden unusual swelling around her neck and other parts of her body. This warranted a trip to the vet. Late last week we received word from Sundae’s vet that Sundae has a very aggressive lymphoma. Yesterday, bearing in mind Sundae’s advanced age, and the advancement of her arthritis, the vet advised against chemotherapy. He said Sundae has “days, not weeks, not months” to live.
My wife and I know it will be in the best interest of Sundae’s quality of life, to send her across the Rainbow Bridge when the time is right. Her vet said that Sundae would let us know when that time is. She’ll stop eating; she won’t get up, she’ll have no interest in anything (even people food). That is when my wife and I will bring her in to the vet and we will be with Sundae until her last breath.
Back in California, in 2009 (two weeks before my very first Vegas trip) I met Sundae (then, named “Star” by the pound) at a doggie adoption day at Petco. That’s where my housemate Eric, (who also owned the house) and I first met her. After spending the day at various dog adoption fairs looking for a suitable playmate for his dog (Dakota) we were headed back home empty handed. I remembered that Dakota was running out of dog food so we stopped off at Petco on the way. Unexpected to us, Petco was also having a Dog Adoption day.
As we walked in the place was littered with loud yippie dogs in cages, and then there was this quiet, sweet Siberian Husky just minding her own business. She was initially found by a rescue group after she was hit by a car. They contacted her owner who didn’t want her back. She was put in a pound, and the pound folks did everything they could to give her a fair chance at adoption. The rescue group paid for treatment of her broken leg, the pound trained her in various skills. However, adopters were only interested in puppies. That same rescue group picked up Sundae to bring to Petco for adoption day. Sundae had four days left before being euthanized at the pound.
Sundae and Dakota seemed to hit it off, so we asked to take Sundae out of her cage. We walked Dakota and Sundae together outside to see how they would behave; they were fast friends. Eric was still on the fence, as he wanted a Golden Retriever. I said something to the effect of “You’ve been to four doggie adoption fairs today strictly for Golden Retrievers and came back with nothing. Meanwhile, there’s a perfectly good dog right here and you’re willing to let her be euthanized in four days because she isn’t a retriever?” Eric signed the papers and Sundae came home that day. Although, Sundae didn’t seem to pay any attention to Eric. It became clear to him that Sundae was only interested in listening to me and following me everywhere. Sundae chose me. Eric said, “Well, I guess this your dog then.” I did the feeding, the walking, the picking up of the poop on said walks, all of it.
At that time, my life was not anywhere near what it is now. I had a lot of walls up (emotionally). I had been through a lot of crap. But Sundae showed me that I did indeed have a lot of love to give. Sundae taught me responsibility, that it was ok to come out from behind my walls, and that it was ok to open up my heart to love again. A few months after I adopted Sundae is when I started dating Angie (now, my wife). Some would say that I rescued Sundae, but in a way, she has rescued me too.
I wish I could write everything in this post about how great Sundae has been to Angie and me. All the goofy little things she does to make us laugh. The way Sundae will hold our arms down so she could lick them. Her sweet howl, the funny noises she makes. All those moments she sensed that one of us was having a bad day and came over to us and looked at us with those soft blue eyes of hers like she completely understood, and would then shower us with licks. If I did, this post would go on forever.
Starting today, Vegas Bright is going on an indefinite hiatus. Our writers and contributors were told last Friday, and they all graciously understand. They as well as myself are all volunteers. Right now I need to be unfettered from time-consuming responsibilities outside of my day job to devote my free time to things closer to the heart. My wife and I need time to be there for each other, and for Sundae in her final days. We will need time to heal when those final days have run out.
Some would say to use Vegas Bright as a distraction. Though Vegas Bright is a hobby, it’s a lot of work (about 18 hours a week of my “free time”); and not truly my passion. Remember, I thought I was going to just be the tech guy, not the Chief Editor. I don’t know when Vegas Bright will be back, and, honestly, part of me don’t know if it will because it’s hard to imagine the future from here. The future that I can imagine looks sad.
The house is going to feel so empty. The holidays are going to suck. Sundae loves Christmas; she loves all the lights. So much so, that she would come and get me to turn the tree on if it weren’t lit yet. She’d howl at me and herd me (like a sheep) out to the living room. Then she’d look at the tree, and then look at Angie and me. As soon as I flipped the tree lights on, she would do her “smile-pant.” Then she would lay down with her head on the ground and just stare up at it because to her eyes; it’s magical.
The only silver lining to Sundae’s prognosis is that my wife and I are mentally preparing for Sundae’s departure. As always, every day we tell Sundae that we love her. And now, after being given this advice (thanks, Chris from Faces and Aces LV) my wife and I are sure to thank her every day for the time that she has spent with us, the many years of joy, and for teaching us so much. She definitely taught us a lot.
Before I got the news about Sundae, I was already burnt out from VB. But now with the added emotional toll in my life… I just can’t Vegas right now. I hope you understand.
Stay Vegas and Stay Bright.