Archive for the ‘Brandy’ Category

It was time for Brandy to leave us

Brandy: Sunbathing in April 2004

Brandy: Sunbathing in April 2004

Brandyleft us just over a week ago. It was her time, she told me so in many ways. I could see it in her eyes, her behavior, her abilities, they all said to varying degrees that she was done. I’ll spare you the details of her declining health. She passed quietly in our home, with the kind and gentle assistance of our vet. Euthanizing Brandy at home helped to bring closure for our family and our pack. Bella, Hermes, and Lollie passed her one by one, sniffing her body curiously, knowing she was gone. Kristin and I wept as Ryan asked lots of questions. The vet and his assistant who made the house call were caring, compassionate, respectful, and professional – as they were when we put Sadie down five years prior.

I kept reading and hearing that when it was her time, I would know. And they were all right. The topic had been a frequent one in our home for months, increasingly so in the past several weeks as evidence mounted that Brandy’s time was near. I wavered as I took in the information she presented to me. I really wasn’t sure until I was sure, if that makes sense.  But once I knew I didn’t hesitate or look back – it was her time.

I miss her but oddly not as much as anticipated. I guess I had a long time to think about her decline and had come to terms with it gradually. These past months I spent more and more time sitting quietly next to her, gently petting and stroking her head, neck, and back the way she liked. As Brandy aged, she was very reactive to sudden moves or any kind of jostling so I moved slowly and deliberately. She would relax and slowly lick her front paws and occasionally my hand or arm as I pet her. It was in those moments too that I knew she was ready. On her final day I came home from work early to pet her like she likes. She was stoic, guarded, with a long stare that seemingly told me she’s ready. My timing was perfect.

Brandy is gone in body but not of course in memory. I loved this poem authored and read by – of all people – legendary actor Jimmy Stewart on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. The poem is called Beau, the name of Stewart’s dog:

It’s day by day for Brandy

The end of the road is nearing for Brandy. I find myself conflicted on deciding when is her time to go – if it should be my decision at all. She could die naturally, but seeing her decline is so hard for me I wonder if it is not kinder to put her down.

Brandy - Feb, 2010I bought Brandy from Animal Kingdom on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago in September 1994 when she was 6 weeks old. She was always a fairly high energy dog who loved to run and jump like most dogs but I will always remember how she seemed to love the wind. On windy days she would stop in her tracks to face the wind, sniffing, blowing her floppy Snoopy years backward. After a short time, she would bolt from that position and run around crazy – sometimes just I circles – as if to celebrate. This is a vivid but now distant memory. She is old now, arthritic, and increasingly losing the muscle needed to remain standing on all fours. Her legs will frequently slide out from under her in all directions just while she is standing or leaning over to drink some water. I’m sure she wishes we had carpeting to assist rather than our wood and tile floors.


Old age is catching up with Brandy

Brandy in 2005

Brandy in 2005

We are currently living with an elderly dog in our home. My husband Mike’s dog, Brandy, turned 15 last August 4th. She has always defied age, seeming to be many years younger than she really was. But lately it seems, time has caught up with her. For a while now she has seemed to be much weaker in her legs, especially her back legs. She didn’t run as fast or as far and sometimes struggled getting up the stairs in our house. But she still walked with me every day – 2-3 miles, and spent many hours outside. But slowly things have been changing. After talking at length, Mike and I agreed (and the vet confirmed) that she seemed to be suffering from pain due to arthritis. So we put her on Rimadyl – first a half a pill a day, then we bumped it up to a full pill (half 2x per day) to manage her arthritis. It seemed to do the trick and we had our old lively senior back again…for a while.

Brandy in September 2006

Brandy in September 2006

Then the accidents in the house became more frequent and she began needing to potty in the middle of the night – sometimes multiple times. And she seemed to be struggling at times to stand up from a lying position and conversely, she often seemed to “collapse” in half from a standing position (her back legs would just fold at the hips and down she’d go, legs sticking straight out in from of her.) We decided to limit her walks. She seemed better for awhile but then she seemed to have even more trouble navigating the stairs, and often she’d simply slide down them after making it half way up. Mike started carrying her downstairs at night to potty. I do sometimes during the day too. We think maybe the walks, even though they were long, were actually helping with the arthritis so I’ve begun walking her again, but just a half mile a day. We will see how it goes.

Brandy at full speed in 2004

Brandy at full speed in 2004

Recently I saw her struggling to poop, the position she was in was difficult for her to maintain so she began to teeter, then she fell, sprawled in the snow. She struggled to get up and fell again, face first. She struggled again and you could see that her legs seemed to be locked in the wrong position, front legs pointing nearly to the sides. I had tears in my eyes as I watched…it happened fast and just as I was heading to the door to help her she miraculously regained her balance and somehow made it up the stairs. At the top she snorted and shook herself (it appeared to me that she was gathering up her dignity) and gingerly walked inside.

I have had a difficult time with Brandy for the entire time I’ve known her. She has been frustratingly defiant, difficult to train, and aloof. But seeing her move through her old age with such grace and acceptance has made me respect her much more. I feel for her so. And so now, we wonder, how long will she be with us? And, do we decide when it is her “time” to go? Or do we let “nature” take its course? There are no easy answers here.

Feature Article

Elburn Herald photo by Sarah Rivers

Elburn Herald photos by Sarah Rivers

There is a feature article in the current edition of the Elburn Herald, a local paper that has been publishing for more than 100 years.  Susan O’Neill wrote the feature and Sarah Rivers took the photos. Fun!

Read Giving Puppies a Chance for Life

Update: The Elburn Herald is updating their website, so you can try this link also. Or just navigate from

It’s a really good article, farily long too.  We kind of weave through the story of our foster experiences as well as our own dogs.  Enjoy – and submit your comments at the end of this post!

photo by Sarah Rivers