I'm Just Sayin'
Random Thoughts from a Random Guy

Spot

Some dates stick in our minds forever.  For me, those dates include my wedding anniversary, the birth of each of my kids, and July 12, 1998.  It’s the day that change the course of mine and Lisa’s lives forever.

Lisa and I were living in Florence, Alabama at the time.  We had just marked our one year wedding anniversary and had just returned from an awesome 10 day vacation to Colorado with our friends Lisa and Denny.  Life was good.  And little did I know it was about to get even better.  Although at the time, I didn’t really believe it.

July 12, 1998 started off like any other day for the life of a DINK (double income, no kids) couple.  We had celebrated Lisa’s birthday the day before and headed off to Walmart for our Sunday afternoon grocery shopping.  As we walked up to the store, we noticed a woman and her two kids standing there.  They had two dogs and a cat that they were giving away.  Lisa immediately took note and mentioned getting the beagle.  I told her I wasn’t interested in getting a dog.  We were both working and living in an apartment, and I didn’t think the Walmart parking lot was the ideal place to find a pet.

Our pup early on

But for those of you who know my wife know she is persistent to say the least.  The entire time we walked around the store she asked for the beagle.  As we were going to the checkout, she said, we better get dog food before we leave.  I stood strong and said no.  Then she played the “if we don’t get a dog, then I want a baby” card.  I continued to hold my ground (surprising for me) and said no again.  We walked out without any dog food.  As we left the building, the family still stood there, with their beloved pet dog.  The beagle was gone, and so was the cat.  All that remained was what I thought at the time was a dalmatian.  We made small talk with the woman, actually Lisa did.  I still had no desire for the dog.  The woman explained that she and her kids had moved to a new apartment and couldn’t keep pets.  Finally, the little boy looked up at me and handed me the leash and said, “Mister, will you please take my dog.”  At that moment, my heart melted.  I couldn’t say no, couldn’t resist.  The last thing the woman said is, “She’s about as big as she’s going to get.”  As we walked away Spot (her given name, and we just kept it) refused to move.  So I scooped her up in my arms and carried her to our jeep.  We got home with her and I remember looking at her belly and remarking how she had one huge nipple.  At closer look we discovered it was a tick, not a nipple and our new pup was infested with fleas as well.  It was Sunday, no groomers opened, so Spot was isolated to the tile floor of the kitchen.

Squeaky bunnies didn't last long around the house.

In the days that followed, we took Spot to the vet and got her cleaned up.  We learned that she was born around April of that year, making her around three months old.  We also learned she wasn’t a dalmatian like we first thought.  She was a blue tick coon hound.  I had never heard of one before that.  Of course, that means she’s a hunting dog, but that wasn’t my cup of tea.  One of my favorite memories of spot include the time we took her out for a walk around our neighborhood in Alabama.  All of the sudden, a cat jumped out of the bushes and scared the crap out Spot.  We thought what a chicken, this big, 20+ pound dog is afraid of a five pound cat.

We quickly bonded with her and she became an instant member of our family.  Lisa definitely treated her more like a child.  I

Our little Angel on Halloween 1998

think her biological clock was beginning to tick.   Lisa and Spot went through Puppy Kindergarten, because clearly Spot was going to need some training.  She was able to jump over our couch with someone sitting on it.  We decided quickly we needed to nip that in the bud.  As Lisa and our new “daughter” went to school, they were invited to a Halloween party.  I remember thinking how crazy it was that people dressed their animals up for Halloween, but as you can see, our little Angel made was the bell of the ball.  I always found it ironic that she was dressed like an angel, because she was such a little devil.  But we loved her anyway.

Spot's first Christmas with Santa Paws.

Soon, fall faded to winter and that meant it was time for Christmas.  And of course if you’re going to dress a pooch up for Halloween, you have to take her to see Santa Paws too.  So that we did.  It was a fundraiser for the local animal clinic.  She did such a good job with Santa.  No one got bit.

About a month later, we learned that Lisa was pregnant, or so we thought.  That pregnancy ended up being a blighted ovum.  We found that news out on a Tuesday morning in February.  That Sunday, Valentine’s Day in fact, Spot was running around outside the apartment.  On her leash, but running free none the less.  She was distracted by two guys playing catch across the street and she darted after the ball that got away.  Problem was, she darted into the street and into the path of a car.  I heard the thud and Lisa scream and my heart sank.  I ran to the street, and with the help of some neighbors and the two guys playing catch, we lifted the car off Spot and Lisa pulled her out from under it.  Of course, it’s Sunday and there were no emergency pet clinics in Florence.  We called a vet who was on call and he met us about 20 minutes later.  I remember driving like a bat out of hell to get her to his office.  We had such a lousy week, and this was going to be the cherry on top.  Lisa sobbed as I drove and I told her we’d do whatever it took to take care of Spot.  Luckily for all of us, she only suffered a bit of shock, a gash on her neck, and some road rash.  Of course, this did not teach her to stay out of the street, as she pulled away from Lisa on a walk a few months later and got nudged on the butt by a Dominoes delivery man.

Ethan & Spot

It wasn’t long before kids were brought into the mix.  We were blessed to have our son Ethan a year and a half after getting Spot.  We weren’t sure has she was going to do with a baby, but she exceeded our expectations.  She was so good with him even as a baby.  Never once did she bark at him, nip him, or bite him.  The same was true as we added Mason and Brooke to our brood.  Even when as toddlers they’d pull on her tail or poke her, she never flinched.  Spot would just get up and move over a few feet, before the kid would follow her and proceed with the “abuse”.

I have a couple of Indiana stories about Spot.  One time she got out and ran away from the house.  I went on a hunt for her and finally found her near the retention pond in our subdivision.  She had a dead fish in her mouth and was rolling around on the shore with it.  She had rolled on it too, and stunk to high heaven.  I got her home and gave her a bath right away.  One other memory, not such a good one.  She had gotten ahold of the neighbors black cat, which had jumped our fence and Spot went on the attack.  She never bit the cat, but did toss her around.  We learned that they had to put the cat down because of internal injuries.  She was simply fulfilling the hunting instinct I think.

After ACL Surgery in 2005

About  a year and a half after moving to Illinois, Spot ended up tearing her ACL.  I think it happened on one of her many “trips” out of the house.  You see, whenever the front door would open, she’d take the opportunity to run.  She’d travel the neighborhood visiting with the other dogs.  She’d aggravate the ones who were caged by openly displaying her freedom.  But when she came limping home one day, we knew we were in trouble.  I believe it was October ’05 when she underwent the surgery.  We had to carry her in and out for a while and she wore that obnoxious cone on her head.  Poor doggie.  Of course, lesson was not learned, she still ran the neighborhood in the years that followed.

I think it was September or October of this year that I realized, really realized that Spot was not going to be with us forever.  Lisa had called me at work and said she took a pretty bad fall.  When I got home, I took her to the vet.  We thought at first it was just because of her aching joints and lack of meds, so we got more.  But her head had a really bad tilt and she continued to fall.  We researched on line and discovered it was Canine Vestibular Disease.  Everything we read said the condition usually clears up in a matter of weeks, and that was the case with Spot.  She seemed to be on the mend.

In early December though, I noticed something wasn’t right.  She seemed like she wasn’t feeling well.  But I continued to live

Our last pic of Spot. RIP

my life of denial and thought she’d be just fine.  Christmas morning, we opened presents, and Spot was nosing through everything as usual.  We loaded the van a short time later and made the trek to my parents’ house in St. Louis.  Spot’s behavior changed.  It almost seemed like she had Alzheimer’s disease.  But I remained optimistic that everything was okay (really I was in denial).  By Saturday night, Spot’s heart was racing and she wasn’t moving around a whole lot.  Lisa and I decided to take her to the all night animal hospital near by parents house.  The vet on duty did blood work and found that everything seemed to be okay.  But she told us it was likely she was acting this way because of a brain tumor.  The only true way to know was to run a CAT Scan. At a cost of $2,000, we decided that wasn’t an option for our family.  They gave us some medicine to help with the pain, but that night she was up whimpering (something she’s never done before), shaking, and again her heart was racing.  We gave her pain pills around the clock but they didn’t seem to help.  By sunrise, she was still not moving around a lot.  After a lot of tears, we made the painful decision that we had to help end her suffering.  We called the clinic back and Lisa and I took her back to the vet.  The kids all said their goodbyes.  Spot wagged her tail at them, and I think she was telling them everything would be okay.  She was ready.  When we got to the vet, she couldn’t even stand up to walk in.  I carried her in there.  Until now, I just realized her life with us started with me carrying her to our car and it ended with me carrying her from it.  Of course this time, she was about three times bigger.  🙂  The vet was great, very supportive and let us say our goodbyes.  She was gone in an instant, but had made such a lasting impression on me, on our family.

Of course, we are all sad and still mourning.  I’ve cried everyday since.  We will be getting her ashes in a couple of weeks, and in the spring we will plant a tree and scatter her ashes there.  Soon, we’ll have a living symbol of the dog who turned out to be more than just a pet.  She was our baby.  Our first born.  Rest in peace, Spot.  We love you!

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4 Responses to “Spot”

  1. really touching, great writing as well. Be at peace please, she’s in doggie heaven now.

  2. Wow…what a touching post! I’m sitting here in tears myself because I can see what an impact Spot had on your whole family (much like our klay klay)! I love that you wrote this and you will have all of those memories to look back on. Spot was a lucky dog! I’ve been praying for your hearts to heal soon!

  3. really heart felt post sorry for the loss.

  4. Oh Kevin, what a beautiful tribute to Spot. She was extremely lucky to have found her way into your home and your heart.


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