And then there was one.
We moved to Phoenix in may of 2003. We were blessed to be able to retire at 55; to leave the cold Minnesota weather behind for the glorious sunshine of Arizona. I had grown to dislike the snow, freezing temperatures and the constant state of gray. Coupled with the fact that i loved the Sun City way of life and it was an easy choice.
We had decided not to have kids; with both of us working full-time plus, we knew parenting wouldn’t be our strong suit. In place of them, we always had dogs, loved them to death as they became our “children.” Pet lovers always get that, while those without often question that relationship. It’s okay, everyone has their differences, their particular likes and dislikes.
In any event, once we arrived, i had both knees replaced (never did understood the word moderation). Consequently i paid the price and was hobbling around with a walker after the surgery. We had gone pet free for nearly a year before our move and we needed to have those little furballs back in our lives.
I started watching the local ads and came across a woman selling standard poodles. They are great dogs; smart, loyal and full of energy. We had several over the years in Minnesota and they were our first choice for out here. I was just weeks through the knee replacements when i saw the ad. We knew better than to go look, but we couldn’t resist.
The woman brought out 3 little balls of fluff (they were only 6 weeks old) and immediately a little chubby girl came running over to me. The other two were boys and we asked if there was another girl. The owner brought out two more, and one of the girls went scampering over to my wife Lori. She was the most unusual color of red, almost like she was carved from the red rocks of Sedona.
For anyone who loves animals, you know the immediate problem of picking one of them up and letting them lick your face and snuggle in your arms. There’s no turning back, and though i was nowhere near ready to be taking care of these little cuties, we drove off with the two we fell immediately in love with (though i still think they picked us more than we picked them).
We got them home and of course here we were; new to Arizona, an adobe style house filled with Southwest decor and a need to name them. We loved the idea the red would be Sedona and what could have been more natural to name her sister Phoenix. People would always give us a double take when told them their names. Shows you how taken we were by the area i guess.
It was a little crazy around the house for the first six months. We needed time to get to know each other. Loving them is easy, caring for them as puppies is always more challenging. Thank God my wife has the patience of the pope, i had very little at the time. As in every great love story, it all came together beyond our wildest imagination.
We were retired at 55, had two new little ones, a great way of life and we could not have been happier. In my humble opinion, there is no better place to live than Sun City. The girls grew and became near on 60 pounders. Sedona was tall and lanky, Phoenix was shorter and built more like me. They became the center of our lives that was filled with fun, frolic and volunteering. It has been the best of all worlds.
Unfortunately Sedona has had physical issues for most of her life. She had allergies to almost everything and in spite of all the physical problems she had, she never let it get her down. She became our Rufus; just a big goofy happy-go-lucky sweet heart looking only to be cuddled, walked and to add to our joy.
A very dear friend of mine who reads my blogs and posts told me i write with what seems a true sense of serenity. I’ve always tried to do that, follow my passions, my heart and write what i felt. Lord knows it’s not grammatically perfect, but it usually touches people in a way that makes it all worth while for me. I find it cathartic, perhaps more written for me than for those reading it.
So here’s the rub: Months back Sedona was becoming very lethargic. It looked like she was holding her neck funny and struggling. We brought her to the vet and he diagnosed her with Valley Fever. Animals contract it just like humans and it can be deadly. The vet gave us medications and said she may be okay. We watched Sedona over the last four months battle back and forth. The disease moves through your body and at times her back legs would go out, her front legs would collapse and a myriad of other problems would surface. Through it all she was a trooper.
This past weekend was the worst. We had her on prednezone but even that couldn’t mask the pain she was going through. We carried her around hoping for a miracle. None came. We’ve put more than our share of our little loved ones down as we held them and we knew it was time to let Sedona go. We scheduled it for Wednesday afternoon, dreading walking in with her and out with nothing but a hole in our hearts and tears running down our faces.
On Tuesday i was signed up for a lawn bowling tournament and went off to it, not much joy in my heart. I came home after the second game for a break and my wife was kneeling on the floor in front of the couch sobbing and holding Sedona. She had just minutes earlier died in her arms of a heart attack. She was able to hold and kiss her as she slipped off and while it crushed her, Sedona was able to leave us as she came to us, surrounded by love and caring. It’s why we have pets, it’s all about the love.
I carried Sedona out to the car and i was telling her about how the boys (we always had male dogs) were waiting for her on the other side. No more pain and free to romp and play without leads and harnesses to hold her back. Odd how we try to comfort ourselves as we lose something so precious and special. Perhaps there is nothing more helpful than this Dog’s Prayer by Norma Beth Harris.
A day has slipped by without her now and there’s no question, it’s different. Lori is hurting really bad and only time will help heal it. Sedona was just over seven and a half years old and should have had a lot more time with us. The one thing we all find out in life is we aren’t the one to decide that. Our place is to do the best we can, love whenever possible and try to give back more than we take. After that, we have to be able to accept what we are given. Sometimes, we just have to learn to let go.
Thanks Sedona for all you gave us, we’ll miss you baby.