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Posts Tagged ‘Pictures of Val’

Val and Family - Christmas 2011

Val and Family – Christmas 2011

Sarah and Val as a puppy

Sarah and Val as a puppy

Hil and Sarah with Val at Martinez

Hil and Sarah with Val at Martinez

James with Val in front of the house.

James with Val in front of the house.

The following are the “10 Canine Commandments“.  The day after Val passed, they were posted by a friend on Facebook.  I don’t know if there was any significance for her at the time she shared them on Facebook, but they were another reminder of how much we loved and are missing our Val.
  1. My life is likely to last 10 to 15 years.  Any separation from you will be painful to me.  Remember that before you buy me.
  2. Give me time to understand what you want from me.
  3. Place your trust in me.  It is crucial to my well being.
  4. Don’t be angry at me for long, and don’t lock or chain me up as punishment.  You have your work, entertainment and friends. I only have you.
  5. Talk to me sometimes.  Even if I don’t understand your words, I understand your voice when you are talking to me.
  6. Be aware that however you treat me, I may forgive you, but I will never forget it.
  7. Before you hit me – I have teeth that could easily crush the bones of your hand, but I choose not to bite you.
  8. Before you scold me for being uncooperative, obstinate or lazy, ask yourself if something might be bothering me.  Perhaps I might not be getting the right food, or I have been out in the sun too long, or my heart is getting old and weak.
  9. Take care of me when I grow old.  You too will grow old someday.
  10. Go with me on difficult journeys.  Never say “I can’t bear to watch” or “let it happen in my absence“.  Everything is easier for me if you are there.
If you can promise me these things, I will give you my unconditional love.  Something money cannot buy…..  REMEMBER THAT I LOVE YOU
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Back in February of 2001, the week of Valentine’s Day, we adopted a little German Shepherd / Pit mix.  We named her “Val”.  She had been found on the street and was terrified of people.  The animal rescue people (ARF), said she had been abused before being abandoned.  We welcomed Val into our new house (new to us as we had just moved back from overseas in December of 2000) and over the next 11 years she has helped to make it our home.
Val had hip dysplasia and so she never turned out to be the jogging mate I had hoped she would be.  In fact, we could rarely walk her for more than a few blocks before she would develop a limp which would be noticeable for a couple of days.  So, Val became a house dog.  She had run of the back yard, but mostly she would play tug-of-war with her toys and the kids or just lie in the sun.  Val seemed to accept her role as a house dog and would rarely venture outside the front door – even if it was left wide open.  She would go have a nose – look up and down the street, but rarely go out.  Up until near the end, she did love to go for short walks around the block.  I’m sure it was all of the new smells she couldn’t find in the yard.
Val also had extra claws on her two front legs.  The ARF folks said it was common on dogs that have been in-bred too much (as is the dysplasia), and they made us promise not to have them surgically removed unless she accidentally tore them.  We promised and they never bothered her.  We used to kid that Val was our “X-dog”, because she was a mutant.
Val was a part of the family.  She was always there to greet us when we came home from being out.  She would bark at the door until we opened it and then run between us to say “Hi” to each of us like she’d not seen us for months – even if we were only gone a half hour.   Val was a true “pack” dog.  She hated to be alone when she could be near someone.  Constantly under foot, she would lie down on your feet when you sat on the couch to watch the TV.   Most of all, Val loved Hil.  Val would follow Hil from room to room – not to get a treat or anything – just to be near her.  We used to kid each other that Val was Hil’s extra shadow.  Hil bought a little placard to keep on the wall near the back door titled “Chores List“.  It read: “1.  Let dog out;  2.  Let dog in;  3.  Let dog out;  4.  Let dog in…”
About six months ago, Val developed a distended tummy.  Val started getting skinny everywhere else and losing energy.   I think both Hil and I knew there was something wrong, but we didn’t really want to face it and we just put it down to her being over 10 years old.  We were feeding Val more, but she was continuing to lose weight everywhere except her belly.  Finally, Hil scheduled a trip to the vet.
Val saw the vet on 28 March and they said she had large tumors on her spleen and liver and probably the cancer had spread to other places too.  They said it was operable for her spleen, but because it had spread, she would not have long anyway.  We decided to bring her home and make her final days as comfortable as possible.  The vet said, “When she starts to go, she would go down quickly.  She will lose all interest in food and not want to move.  She will start panting and her gums will get pale.  When that happens, bring her back and we’ll help her.”
For the last two weeks, Val was treated even more like the queen of Sheba than she usually was.  A new chewing toy, lots of treats and plenty of scratches…  And she loved it.
On Thursday, when I got home from work, Val didn’t get up to greet me.  She didn’t even raise her head.  I checked her several times to make sure she was breathing and to give her a few scratches.  She got up when Sarah got home from school about two hours later, but she had barely moved the whole time in between.   When she sat back down, she was panting.
Hil got home and let Val out for her business and then Hil called me over.  Val was passing blood in her urine.  She was still panting and was completely off her food for the day.
We called the vet and they said to bring her in right away…
We got Val’s leash and she seemed to buck-up.  She went right to the front door and was panting excitedly.  When we started for the car, she got even more excited (because this meant her favorite walks).  When we got her to the vets office, she was shaking terribly.  They examined her and asked us what we wanted done.  We signed the forms and paid the fee.  They spread a blanket on the floor so she would be comfortable.  The doctor gave Val her shot and she passed on quickly while the three of us were petting her.  She simply relaxed with her head in my hands and then stopped breathing.  The vet checked her pulse and said she was gone.
Sarah, Hil and I continued to pet Val for a few minutes and then we left her to have her ashes spread over a field in Napa.
The house is less full now without Val here to greet us.  But in a strange way, I feel like she is still here.  Like a legendary Chinese guardian dog, Val is still waiting at the door to welcome us home and still ready to bark to protect us from danger.
Rest in peace, girl.  While we remember and celebrate your life with us, we also mourn our loss.  Thanks for being a part of our family.  We miss you.  We loved you.  I loved you, you silly, playful, wonderful dog!
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