Oscar (L) & Sherman (R)

Oscar (L) & Sherman (R)
The boys, happy and healthy.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Saying Goodbye to a Friend, Part III

Tonight, I would like to finish my goodbye to Sherman.  I have systematically avoided doing this, in part due to the fact that I am the most supreme procrastinator and the queen of avoidance at times.  But, Sherman's story should not be left in suspension. 

After John left for Florida, Sherman and I were going solo and it wasn't easy at all.  No breaks. Went home during lunch when I could to check on him.  Straight home after work for the all important walk.  I insist on my blog being truthful, even if it doesn't paint me in the best light. This time was hard and rewarding and crummy and exhilarating all at once.  I was pretty depressed with my personal situation.  Divorced.  Divorced?  Divorced.  My desire to do well by Sherman got me off the couch when I didn't feel like doing so and along we went.  

I moved to a new apartment.  By this time, I met my best friend.  Donna.  I owe my friendship with her to Sherman, to Oscar.  Our Boxers, forced us to chat when we crossed paths, forced us to chat when maybe we wouldn't have, forced us to chat when we might have not been feeling friendly.  She is a gift given to me by our dogs.  And along we went...

In an effort to pull myself out of the depression I had sunk into, I attended a Memorial Day party against my actual desires.  If anyone has ever suffered  from depression, as I have on and off since my late teens, early twenties, you know it's almost impossible to just dust yourself off. So to be able to get myself to a party means I was having an okay day.  It was a party being held by a co-worker and there were a lot of people there I didn't know.  During a friendly volleyball game, I got stepped on.  My bare foot.  Smashed by an overzealous asshole in high-tops.  High-tops!  I thought it was just bruised and never got it checked.

By the new year, my foot hurt constantly and it came to light after a visit to the podiatrist that this injury was pretty serious.  By February, I was having surgery to correct torn ligaments and some other problems that had manifested due to the injury.  My Mom came to see me through the surgery.  I needed her there, but didn't want her there.  Not for anything she did, but because I am supposed to be in a marriage or relationship.  My partner is supposed to be there. Not my Mom.   My Mom is supposed to be pressuring me to have babies, grandchildren. Not helping me to the bathroom in my one-bedroom apartment as I negotiate the finer points of crutches.

Sherman went to my parents while I healed up.  I was really looking forward to getting back to normal and having him back.  I was scared too.  Foot surgery sucks.  It takes forever to get better.  Once released, and supposedly cured, Sherman came back.  It wasn't easy for him and I felt terrible that he had a taste of the company of dogs (Mom and Dad had dogs of their own who kept each other company during the day) and now was back to the emptiness of 9 to 5. But he was back and we were developing our new schedule.  

My foot was not better.  I was healed, but I developed back problems from the foot not working right.  I lived with it for awhile, but I was in pain more often than not.  I had to get the foot worked on again and Sherman had to go away again.  My psyche was stretched really thin.  I was struggling at work and trying to get myself better so Sherman could come back, but I knew in some deep recess of my heart that I couldn't do it.  See, my parents live in upstate NY and I live in Allentown.  Shuttling Sherman around involved a 3+ hour drive and I wasn't physically up to the walks and the needs that he had.  I asked, with the most heavy and sad heart, that my Mom and Dad take Sherman permanently.  By now, they had retired and could give him the life that now I could no longer provide.  It was best for him and worst for me.

But, Sherman really fell into a most luxurious situation.  He could lounge in bed with them in the morning when they had coffee.  Go for rides in the car.  Play with the stick.  Get fed a little ice cream here and there.  Doting?  My parents treated him like royalty and he repaid them with the affection that he was full of; bursting at the seams.  Sherman stayed with me when they vacationed and it was heaven.  It was the right thing to do, to have him stay with them.  It felt like a permanent vacant sign hung over me where the little guy was concerned.  I missed him.  It was a loss in my book, and a failure in the 'dog owner' category.  Not true, you say?  It has always hung with me.  Failed. 

I had ANOTHER foot surgery, two summers ago now.  Sherman's age was starting to show.  The little puppy that I had selected from all the others, liked his nap more than ever.  He continued to be healthy and I was always grateful for that.  His pal, Oscar, had passed away and it was gut wrenching.  Illnesses layered over illnesses as I tried to help Donna wade through the quagmire of what to do when.  I felt horribly guilty thinking about the heathy dog I gave up while my best friend was tortured trying desperately to find answers and peace for her boy who was suffering. But, Sherman went on and along.

His decline came swiftly.  Barely perceptible at first, Sherman's spine with arthritis, had started to interrupt the control of his back legs.  It started in the fall of 2007.  By Christmastime, it was more pronounced.  His negotiation of stairs and slippery floor surfaces became a real challenge for him.  Donna watched him over Christmas while my family and I went away.  I was worried that his mobility issues would be too much for her, but not Donna.  She kept him safe and secure and loved while his people were away.  I think he gave her some safety, security and love as well; she needed it during this time.  I am, and will always be, infinitely grateful to her for all the love she gave Sherman during what would be his last Christmas.  No gift of Key Lime Cookies could really represent that.

The last time I saw Sherman was at the end of April.  I had been home to visit my Mom and Dad and to celebrate family birthdays.  Sherman's mobility was bad.  He barely kept it together.  Mom and Dad had spread area rugs everywhere to minimize the slippery floors.  He could barely do it.  But, as was always Sherman's style, he gave 100% love.  I balanced him against my leg so he could rest and feel close (Boxers are leaners, for those who aren't familiar). He gave kisses when asked.  I didn't like the look in his eyes at one point.  He looked, well, exhausted.  I knew when I gave him a kiss goodbye that I probably wouldn't get to see him again.  He was put to sleep on May 6, 2008.

The circumstances of my parents decision to have Sherman put to sleep is a discussion for another time or maybe never at all.  I would like whoever reads this to know that despite his inability to walk, Sherman still had some kisses for the vet on his final day.  That was him to a tee. 

Sherman at Christmas 2007

Sherman at Christmas 2007
Feeling the love with Auntie Donna

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