It was a bad start to the week when The Man of the House woke me much earlier than usual to say there was something terribly wrong with our dog. I came to the kitchen to find Shiloh collapsed over his food dish laboring to breathe. His nose was cold.
We carried him to the car and drove him to the vet. As the employees arrived, they carried him into the clinic and began giving him oxygen and started an IV to make him more comfortable.
After the vet examined him, she came out with a very serious expression and gave us the diagnosis. He had a large mass on his spleen and internal bleeding into his abdomen. She gave us the options for some heroic measures, which we immediately refused. There was no way we were going to put this dear 10-year-old dog through surgery that was likely not going to do more than give him a few extra months.
Our hearts are broken and our house now feels so empty when we come in the door. There is no one to greet us with unconditional love and a wagging tail.
We have the wonderful memories of his nine years of life with us. When we first met him at the Wayne County Humane Society one mid-June, he was a mess. He'd been a runaway and after three weeks at the shelter, he was shedding like crazy. The hair we brushed off of him after we got home filled a large paper grocery bag.
But he was adorable. He had one collie ear and one German shepherd ear that were so appealing. The most compelling reason to adopt him was that he didn't bark when we saw him -- unlike all the other dogs at the shelter. We did not want a barker.
We didn't realize when we got him just how much energy a dog that age had, and it took some getting used to when it came to the amount of exercise he enjoyed. Taking him for long walks in a nearby farmer's field was the highlight of his life. He loved chasing rabbits and killing groundhogs.
He and our granddog Elvis were great friends right from the start. When they first met, they chased each other around our backyard and jumped over the shrubbery. They were known far and wide for their many adventures around Winesburg. They both had a bad habit of sneaking away from home when no one was looking and showing up at each other's houses. From there they sometimes went on their own little excursions.
We got calls from several businesses alerting us of his presence. One especially stands out when we got a call from someone who was walking the picket line at Case Farms where chickens were processed.
When we moved to South Carolina in 2013, Shiloh adjusted to the weather better than we did. He liked to lay stretched out in the sun for a few minutes before heading back in to the comfortable air conditioning. He made lots of new dog friends.
He slowed down considerably this year, with us spending the first three months trying to figure out why he had diarrhea and treating it. We were pleased when things got back to normal and we were once again able to leave him with Robyn for a vacation.
We are just thankful that his end did not come while we were on our recent trip to Ohio. His memory will linger on as we slowly get rid of the dog hair in our cars, on the carpet and on our clothes. But that is OK. This will be the end of our dog ownership. It is just too painful to think of going through this again.