The Queen, my Lord, is dead.
Zamboni passed away peacefully at home in our arms Saturday afternoon.
She bloated very severely on Wed while driving home from her chiropractor's office. I was able to pull off the freeway, give her 5 gas-x and we walked around a parking lot for quite a while. Then we went to our regular vet's office where they took a quick lateral xray that showed the gas had passed into her intestines. She felt fine, so we felt like we dodged a bullet. But Thurs night, she had a minor episode and Friday in the middle of the night, another severe episode.
While Zamboni clearly had a will to live, we felt that she could not continue this way. Her pancreatitis had returned at a low burn, which I knew was painful even if she didn't let it slow her down. She was still feisty, engaged, and was welcoming and lovely to our new GSD puppy last week. It was quite obvious that she liked him, as he's a gentle little soul.
Saturday morning, we went for a walk in the woods near our home and her tail was high as she trotted along. She didn't want to go home when we got back to our car. She was in a good mood, as she usually was, so we hung around and she sniffed for a while.
We supplied her with all of her favorite foods, and lots of them. She especially enjoyed the homemade brownies I cooked for her and Cheese-its, always one of her favorite foods. I gave her an acepromazine and she snoozed for a while. Then our vet and Boni's favorite tech arrived, and Zamboni -- with her tummy full and lying on my lap, in my arms with my husband petting her in her favorite spots -- bid us a sweet farewell.
For her 16th birthday, we looked back on her life and those we've loved:
(posted May 5, 2009)
In August 1993, I wandered into the San Diego County Animal Shelter, thinking maybe I wanted a dog. In the back corner, a pup kneaded her kennel door. "You! I pick you!" she whined at me. How could I resist? I grew up with German Shepherds, but this little one was so cute and portable enough for my active life.
Pretty soon, we were joined by Grover, who would be Boni's constant companion for over a decade.
Ah the things we've done! The places we've gone! The mountains we climbed, only to run down the glaciers at full speed!
Then, this guy showed up. The humans said "This is your new brother." The girls were not excited to meet him.
Although, eventually, he turned out to a good friend and hiking partner.
Then, the humans brought in another kid.
But it turns out, she's not so bad either.
The three of them became buddies.
Now it's only two again...
(... for now)
So, on Zamboni's 16th birthday, it's time to relax and reflect on life thus far.
We went camping at the beach, returning the San Diego girl to the water's edge (if not the ocean) this past weekend to celebrate her birthday. We had a chance to sit on the beach and just remember all of the things that we've been through all these years.
We've lost some dear packmates. And gained others who can't take their places, but we learn to love them all the same. Sixteen years is a long time. We've slowed down. We don't climb mountains (at least not 10K mountains) anymore. But this birthday is perhaps the most meaningful we've celebrated, as we look back on our life together.
There was a final chapter to write though. She needed to welcome the newest member to her pack. And she did, with generosity, with grace, with friendship. She ensured that Meri had a friend and would not be left alone before she left.
We were together 16 years and 3 days. She created a space in my life that is so huge, that it's a vacuum now. I am grateful for all that time. I recently lost a dog that was entirely too young. He was robbed. Zamboni had a long, rich full life. She visited every continental state and province west of the Rockies , several east of the Rockies, travelled into Mexico, and hiked thousands if not tens of thousands of miles. I guess it's because we did so much together that the emptiness is so vast. Every memory includes Zamboni.
The most bittersweet thing is that she wanted to go on. On Monday, she attended Meri's obedience class with us and joined in the exercises. By day, she was actively engaged. But in the evening and especially at night, the bloat would return. However, I am certain that she would tolerate the excruciating pain to stay with us. She had survived so much and she would will herself to keep going, as she had been for the last several months. But after her bloating 3 times in 3 days, I couldn't let her do that to herself.
She had given her entire life to me. I felt I owed it to her. She fell asleep at home with a tummy that was full of her favorite treats -- although she continued to snack on brownies even after being under the influence of the ace. She barely noticed the vet arrive.
It was regal peaceful goodbye, befitting of a queen. There will never be another like her.