Saturday, March 3, 2012

Remembering Tilly the Oreo Princess

This is the story of our puppy dog, why I'm sharing this here,  I don't know.  It's a happy story, but there is sadness too. 

So don't read any farther if you don't want to, that's OK.  I guess I really don't need to post this.  But Tilly was the best dog ever. 

Well you have been warned, no wildflowers in this post...

Tilly came to us on July 17 1997, when we met her she shyly hid along some steps of the house where she was born. A puppy, just a little tiny puppy. We already had one dog at our house but someone in the family never had a puppy, votes were casts on the new puppy idea - 3 for, 2 against!

Tilly in her favorite hangout, the shelf under the coffee table.
  Here is baby Tilly.

 It was from an ad in the newspaper we found our pup, just a mutt, a black lab mixed with terrier? No one was sure who Tilly's father was. We stopped at a local county park where one son was working, so he could met Tilly right away. Then we stopped at Miss Lisa's for ice cream. They gave Tilly an empty cone and from then on she loved junk food. Ha Ha. Tears...

When we got Tilly home she immediately started digging holes in the lawn.
Oh oh.

Then she decided that the our old dog, Bridget, needed her ankles chewed!
Oh oh.

Tilly was the name we came up with and since she was mostly black with some white sandwiched between, we added the Oreo Princess. It was a good name. She was a princess, she would lay with her little paws crossed, she was royalty. 
           First Birthday

She was always there to greet us with her tail wagging whenever we came home, she never got  mad at us for being gone.  She was always there if you were sick, she would stay right in the room quietly making you feel better. 
           On a snow fort

She was sick a couple times, she hurt her back jumping down into the Grand River, she had to take it easy for a few days.  Sweet puppy.
   First Christmas

She loved to swim, run, walk, play, eat, go for car rides, go to the cabin, do tricks, eat "bones" (dog biscuits). 
She could sit, lay down, play bang bang you're dead, roll over. (Oh guilt just hit me again).

    Tilly in the back seat going to the cabin.
  Tilly going for a car ride.

She didn't like to - go to the vet, have a bath, get scolded, Uncle Bryan, or to see suitcases brought out.

    Ooo, I have the most beautiful nose!
    You love me right?

In those first weeks walking through the woods Tilly had to be lifted over fallen trees because she was too small to climb over them. One day we were down in the field near the river, Tilly was happily and obliviously running ahead, full of puppy energy, when we spotted an eagle flying low right over her. We quickly scooped her up, she just thought this was another game.

Well, you know this post is about remembering Tilly. She has been gone from us for three weeks already.  I've never had to have a dog put to "sleep".  It hurts a lot.

Here is what happened...  Over the last year or two Tilly had gotten old, fat, stiff, gray, partially deaf and partially blind, she was almost 15 years old.  Her sniffer nose still worked just fine.  We still went for a walk every night, but lots of mornings Tilly just slept.  Her back legs were quite stiff and it was hard for her to go down or up the steps to get outside. 

To go for a car ride we had to put the front seat all the way forward, then she got her front paws up onto the floor of the backseat area, then we had to lift and push her rear into the car.  From there she needed to be helped up onto the seat.  It wasn't easy.  Oh my back.  She weighed 85 pounds in the end!

The last time we walked her, away from home, was the trip to Riverside Park February 5 2012.  She was dragging behind, and we told her if she didn't walk a little faster she couldn't come next time!  What a horrible thing to say! 

Well, in the wee hours of Saturday February 11, I woke to a crash in the bedroom.   Tilly slept in our room now for several years, often having to go out at night.  Sometimes during the night she would try to find a new spot to lay down and on the way stumble into the closet doors.  I got a sick feeling at the sound of the crash, I knew it wasn't good.

Tilly way up north
Tilly fetching a stick at Bass Lake

I jumped up and turned on the light, there she was struggling on the floor on her side...I'm not sure I can go on...She managed to get up but her back legs kept giving out.  My heart is breaking. 

Our last dog, Bridget, had an episode (stroke? seizure?) one night she totally lost it, the use of her legs, and everything else.  She hung on for a week or more.  It was torturous.  She couldn't walk, wouldn't eat, seemed like her mind wasn't right.  The cleaning her up and the smell were awful, she was a big dog too.  She cried and cried when she finally and painfully died.  We should have taken her to the vet, why didn't we?  Bridget was laying in a homemade box covered with a tarp, after she died I pulled the tarp and her outside and buried her before everyone else came home.  This is not how things should go in the end.
 Tilly Loved the Snow!

Back to Tilly, (in the back of my mind is Bridget's horrible  death),  she managed to stumble down the cement steps to the lawn.  Her legs didn't work well to squat down to potty, she wandered around the lawn like she was drunk.
 Tilly loved the water and Max, her "cousin".
Tilly enjoyed our jaunts to the river, she liked wildflowers too.

She got down the hill in back but couldn't get up, so I helped her.  She was trembling all over, and she looked me in the eyes asking, "What's going on?  Help me."  This look I guess is what I remember when I made the decision to put her to "sleep". 
(I still like to think of it as sleep, OK).  My poor baby.

We got back up the hill, I affectionately scratched her ears, she shook her head and knocked herself right to the ground.  Again there is the heart breaking.  I felt so helpless, I couldn't swoop her up into my arms, she was just too big. 

  Tilly on the Manistee River Trail- what a fine, fine dog.

So this was on a Saturday morning, Tilly's vet was closed.  I had to be at a bridal shower in a few hours, and here is the dog, falling down.  I wish someone else would take charge.  Tell me what to do.

I knew calling a vet might mean Tilly would be put to sleep.  So I didn't want to make the call, but this was something you couldn't ignore!  We found that she had ripped a toe nail in half, she didn't complain.  She laid in her bed with her face to the wall, she couldn't turn around.  Oh somebody do something.

Every night Tilly would roll in the grass, ah that feels good.

It was hard but I looked up other vets in the area.  I found Grand Haven Animal Hospital with Dr. Casey Nash was open until noon on Saturdays.  I called and explained the situation, within minutes they were saying to bring Tilly in as soon as possible.  
   Tilly in the creek up at the cabin

Tilly is still in her bed seeming pretty normal, hm, well we just have to take her to the vet, he can examine her.  Maybe give her a shot of something to make her better.  I don't want to go through the weekend and have her break a hip or her back going down the steps, then be in pain.  She is quiet now and doesn't seem to be suffering.

   Tilly the Snow Dog

Are we jumping the gun taking her now to the vet just because they are open and we have places to go this afternoon??  Maybe if she wasn't so heavy.  Maybe I fed her too much.  She is trembling all over, even laying there in her bed. 

    Santa Tilly

OK this is it.  We need to get her to the car.  We were going to try to just carry her and the bed to the car, but she was having none of that.  In the end some how Mike picked her up and got her on the back seat!  Good Bye Tilly.
  Tilly on the nightly walk around the loop.

When we get to Grand Haven Animal Hospital, Mike lifts Tilly out of the car, I don't know how he is doing that.  She actually walked to the building, sniffing where other dogs had gone.  She stumbled, she's shaking.  

Even in the deepest snow she wanted to go for a walk!

We go in and the girl at the desk was so nice.  Tilly walked over to the scale, 85 pounds!  And almost 15 years old.  We go into the exam room.  The vet comes in, he's nice, calm, almost like an old friend.  

Tilly and Jet, the visiting cat, soaking up the heat from the woodstove.

He gives Tilly a thorough exam.  She doesn't complain.  He is looking in her ears, oh please let it be an ear infection.  No.  I don't remember exactly what he said.  But he wasn't pushing us toward one decision or the other.  She could have had a stroke or seizure, maybe they can do tests.  I'm starting to think I just want this over.  Tilly is constantly trembling, now. 

She is still the dog I love, yup I love her.  I know she is just a dog.  My heart is hurting.  How does Tilly feel?  She won't say.  She just lays there.  She would need surgery on her paw and toe nail.  She is very old.  She has been panting almost constantly for two years.  She has bulges all over her body.  I don't want her to hurt.
    Tilly in the wind
 Tilly having fun.  Good Dog

We are given all the time we need to think about what to do.  Just open the door to the inner office when we are ready.  This is so hard.  I don't want to try and take Tilly home and have her fall and be hurt and cry in pain.  Maybe if we put her to sleep we can prevent this.  Maybe...we should...  We open the door and say we've made our decision. 
Tilly goes for a swim in Lake Michigan.

Everyone is so very nice but yet professional so that you feel you can trust them.  Mike goes to the car to get Tilly her blanket.  We get her on the blanket.  Dr. Nash asks if I want to be closer to Tilly, near her head.  Yes, yes I do. 

Tilly has always had the cutest, sweetest face, and the most adorable ears.  Her head is so soft and smells like a puppy dog.  I put my arm around her and cradle her head there in my arms.  The vet shaves a spot on her left front leg.  The nice girl is in the room too.  Even though we have just met these people I feel like they really care.  The vet even called Tilly, Til, we sometimes call her Til.  He puts the needle in her leg, she made one soft puff sound, her eyes were open, and she was gone.  Forever.


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your loss, and I am sorry that those probably sound like meaningless words right now.

Plants Amaze Me said...

quietsolopursuits, Thank you for the kind words. Well I had that post ready for a week not sure I should put it out there. The thing I miss most about Tilly, other than she was always right here near me, were our "quiet pursuits". Her and I would go down in the field and swamp here behind our house, we would just roam about, poking our noses in here and there. If I stopped to look at something she sat there looking at it too, quietly.

Anonymous said...

Aww, what a great post to remember our sweet Til. I can't stop crying now :(. She was the best puppy ever!!!

New Hampshire Gardener said...

My dog's name was Koko and she died right in front of me after 14 years of being one of the family. I have wished ever since that I had brought her to the vet like you did with Tilly. I'm sorry that you lost such a good friend. It isn't easy.

Anonymous said...

Tilly sounded wonderful. Thank you for sharing this. It was beautiful.
I am sorry for your loss.
- Chris (Diane's son in NY)

Colleen said...

Dear Mike and Chris,

I'm so sorry for your loss, I know our precious dogs are a major part of the family. We grieve their loss something terrible. I'm so happy that she brought so much joy and comfort to your family, and brought you so much love (in a way only a dog can do). I thought of you both today as I saw a sympathy card for the loss of a pet. Thank you for sharing your precious memories, words, and photos. I am truly touched. May her memory warm your heart and comfort you soul.
Love you guys,

Plants Amaze Me said...

Anonymous, I know who you are and where you live, ha ha. You were the reason we got Tilly and she was your puppy, remember all the happy times with her, camping in the pop-up and the tent, so many walks, but no more crying! Maybe we will get another puppy some day, OK.

Plants Amaze Me said...

New Hampshire Gardener, Sorry you had a such a sad experience with your Koko. :(
I'm not sure I want another dog, did you get another dog after Koko?
Thanks for visiting my blog, soon it will be about wildflowers. :)

Plants Amaze Me said...

Chris, (D & J son in NY) Thanks Chris, your Mom emailed about the confusion with Lily and Tilly. It's OK. It was a very caring comment, I appreciate it. I hope life in the Big Apple is going great! Love Ya, Aunt Chris(tine)

Plants Amaze Me said...

Colleen, Thanks for your comforting words. I know she was just a dog... Take care.

New Hampshire Gardener said...

No, I never have gotten another dog because my kids are grown now and a dog living here would have to spend too much time alone. I'd love to have one, but it wouldn't be fair to the dog. Maybe when I retire.

Derek said...

What a beautiful touching story.
It broke my heart remembering my little dog.

Plants Amaze Me said...

Derek, thank you for your comment. Sorry about your little dog. It is best to remember the happy times but, then, that hurts too. Maybe time passing will help, I'm not sure yet, it is still too soon. :-)

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across your blog this morning while researching a potential relocation - with an older dog - to the Spring Lake/Muskegon area. When I looked up parks and nature trails, your blog popped up. I loved all the photos of various places and especially the post about Tilly.

Plants Amaze Me said...

Anonymous, Hi glad you found my blog. West Michigan is a great place to live. Ottawa County owns lots property you can walk your dog. Jobs are still hard to come by.

I haven't looked at this post about Tilly in a while, wow I do miss her. We haven't gotten another dog yet.

The blog is really just my ramblings, no real purpose. It's just for fun. I do get out there, though, and there is so much to see. It's fun.

Good luck in your move, and give your puppy dog a hug.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about Tilly:( I love the pictures of her all covered in snow! Take care, Katie

Anonymous said...

I'm the May 19th poster... My hubby accepted the job and I have a couple of questions for you, if you don't mind. I do not see any contact info on your blog, though. Thx

Plants Amaze Me said...

Hi Anonymous May 19th poster, my email address is
Congratulations to your hubby and you on the job and the move.