8/27... The story of Sel..
It's been less than 24 hours since I lost my Anselmo. I've now calmed down enough to write about it. I know everyone says- it takes time... But I'm not sure that I'll ever grow accustomed to him not being here. I may be at peace with my decision- Sel was so very ill, and he would have gotten rapidly worse. But I will never be at peace with the idea that he is gone.
I still scoff at the irony of it all... We knew that Hercules was degenerating rapidly from the Wobblers syndrome (and his other orthopedic issues). We were trying to emotionally (and financially) plan for his looming euthanasia... if one can ever truly "prepare" for that.. But to have both boys fail at nearly the same time?? How ironic, and unfair, and horrible.
...We welcomed Sel into our home in February of 2011, when my friend and fellow breeder decided to retire him from her breeding program. Sel is Herc's father, and was the mate to my Liberty (RIP), and so the decision to have him come live with us was an easy one. Sel quickly transitioned into our family as if he had been living with us his entire life.
He was a WONDERFUL boy. So well mannered, even tempered, and well behaved; he put all other dogs to shame. He was goofy and loving, yet he had a stoic, quiet side as well; one that I could relate to. He was old and wise and mature, yet still encompassed the breed standard of being loving and happy and jubilant. While Hercules was always our friendly goofball (he would probably welcome an intruder with kisses and tail wags), Sel was our protector and guardian.
And he had the patience of a saint. Tolerant of all the kids and visitors that would come in and out of our home, the cats, various puppies, rescue dogs.. and even with Hercules, who would growl and push him out of the water bowl, every.. single.. time.
He was full European, which was something that took some getting used to. Sel had the GIANT jowls of his mastiff ancestors. Now, we were used to some slobber on the floors, walls, and windows, but MAN, this dog could fling it, with force, onto our 10 foot ceilings! I swear, he had at least a ten yard radius! I can't count the number of times we'd have to say- "Sel.. NO!", as he was approaching our lap, with foot-long cords of slimy, thick, gelatinous drool hanging from his mouth. But his droopy jowls, and eyes, and face, all added to his overall charm. He was a picky eater from the get-go. He was very specific about what treats he would and wouldn't eat. Every time we went to Petco, I'd have to take Sel, to make sure we got treats that he'd actually like. He was finicky like that. He hated taking pills or supplements, that was always a challenge. Most times I'd have to reach my hand down into the depths of his giant, slobbery maw, and force them down... Stubborn old man.
And he was my 12 year old son's favorite. He said so, and it was evident. I don't really know why, but he was. ~I'll mention here, that while in the exam room in those final moments, I kept urging Dawson to come sit with all of us next to Anselmo... He wouldn't, he just stood up against the wall on the other side of the room. And then, Sel, all doped up from the initial "relaxing" dose, got up, and went to him. Put his head between Dawson's legs, as he always did. It was a simple gesture, and yet, in that moment, was so very profound.
We always marveled at how healthy Anselmo seemed for his age, remarking how he would long outlive his son. He had so much energy still. He loved to run around in the yard, go walking around the neighborhood, trips to the dog park, and car rides to Dunkin Donuts, or the bank, or anywhere..
And then, approximately two weeks ago, he started vomiting, completely out of nowhere. With the vomiting came lethargy, diarrhea, and a lack of appetite. Our first vet visit was just to check his blood panel and vitals. That's when Dr. Richie noticed the elevated heart rate. Otherwise, everything seemed normal, including his blood panel. We took Sel home with a prescription for the diarrhea, one for the vomiting, and a beta blocker to regulate his heart.
It was over the next few days that Sel started the rapid downward spiral. He became obviously more miserable, refused to eat (he hadn't had a meal in four days), continued having diarrhea.. His coat started shedding profusely, and looked dull and dingy. He had a constant flow of mucous from his eyes. He had lost a total of 13 pounds. I knew in my heart and in my gut that it wasn't something treatable, although I still clung to the hope that it was...
Upon seeing him yesterday, Dr. Richie concurred; this was end of life behavior. But I still wanted the x-rays. I HAD to know for sure that there wasn't something more we could do. I needed definitive. And we got definitive.
The x-ray showed a large mass growing on and around the top of his heart and pinching off his esophagus. This would explain the inability to eat, and the electrical disruption of the heart (causing the highly elevated heart rate). It had obviously not grown overnight. It could have been there for weeks, months, even years, just growing. We never knew. Sel had never been sick, and so there was never any reason over the years for x-rays or diagnostic testing. The tumor had simply finally reached that critical size.
And there was nothing more that could be done, other than to humanely allow him to go peacefully.
And here I sit on my porch, with his son Hercules, and his grandson Phineus at my feet. His and Liberty's legacy.
I miss him so very much.