Saturday, September 27, 2008

In Loving Memory Of Alfalfa

Today is one year since my dear Alfalfa passed on. I have yet to write a memorial for him, so this my first. It's something that just really hurts to talk about, but I think once I do it, I will finally feel better. I want everyone to know what a great dog he was, and how blessed I was to have a dog like him.

So I'm just going to start at the beginning. Alfalfa came into the shelter one day, with the man who had saved his life. (I worked at this shelter) The man came in, holding Alfalfa (still a pup) in his arms, and looked all through our kennels. He then walked up to one of the staff, and tears proceeded to stream down his cheeks, as he told the staff member how he had found the pup.

He was pumping gas one day, and heard crying. He looked around, and he saw Alfalfa, a little teeny baby, nearly starved to death, too young to be away from Mama, all curled up and near death. The man picked up the pup, and took him to the vet asap. Alfalfa stayed at the vet until he was well enough, and then the man took Alalfa to his trailer and named him Petro, after the gas station he found him at. (sometimes I think I should have kept that name, seeing as to how it signified the story)

Anyways, the trailer this man lived in, was the kind you pull behind your truck. It was itty bitty and the man was a traveling man. As Alfalfa grew, the man felt selfish by keeping Alfalfa when he had no big yard and etc. Alfalfa was a pointer mix, and yes, he was VERY high energy.

So the man drove from shelter to shelter, trying to find a shelter he felt comfortable leaving Alalfa at. He went to many, many shelters, and he was not comfortable with any of them.

Until one day he came to our shelter, and he knew it was time. We never saw a man cry so hard about giving up his pup. He very sincerely loved Alfalfa, and I am sure to this day that man wonders about Alfalfa. I always wonder if somehow I'll cross paths with that man. That man poured alot of love into Alfalfa.

Alfalfa was really sad when the man left him. All the shelter staff fell in love with Alfalfa right away. It was decided we would do whatever it takes to find this pup a home, and that this pup would NOT be euthanized like many others unfortunately were.

Alfalfa was at the shelter for SIX months. Noone wanted him. I suspect it was his tail, it curled up. I think that put people off and they didn't give him a chance. If that's the reason, I am really GLAD he had that tail, or I might have missed out on the World's Greatest Dog. The staff were bugging me for quite some time to take Alfalfa home with me. I was trying to avoid having dogs as I was in a relationship I needed to get out of. They all cheered when I finally decided to take Alfalfa home.

Anyways, we had some great times. He LOVED water. I would go swimming with him regularly when warm enough. The happiest moments in my life were when I was in the water with Alfalfa. He was my best friend.

A month after I adopted Alfalfa, I brought home Riley, for JUST the weekend, cause he had been at the shelter for several months and needed a break. Riley and Alfalfa were good playmates before I brought Alfalfa home, and they were thrilled to see each other again. I took Riley back to the shelter the following Monday, and Alfalfa slunk into a deep depression, just like when the man left him. So at 3 am, me and Alfalfa went to the shelter and picked up Riley to come home with us for good! I left a note on the desk so my coworkers would know why Riley was missing. They just laughed.

I mentioned earlier that I was in a bad relationship at the time when I adopted Alfalfa. When this man would lift a hand to me, Alfalfa would stand between us. You could tell he was afraid, but he just couldn't stand by while this man hit me. So he stood between us. Whenever I cried, Alfalfa would walk up to me, look at me, come in real close and put his head on my shoulder. Only dog in the world who has ever done that for me. He would gulp as if he was crying with me.

When he was 18 months old, the dogs were in the yard, and I was sitting on the patio. Alfalfa got the gate open by jumping on the latch just right. It was a BIG yard, and by the time I got up to get them, Riley had taken off like a shot, and Alfalfa followed him. Long story short, I found Riley safe and sound several hours later, and then in the wee hours of the morning, I found Alfalfa on the side of the highway, near death. Me and my friend immediately loaded up Alfalfa into her SUV, and hauled off to the vet as fast as we could. The injuries were very massive, and I am amazed this dog survived. He fractured his jaw and skull in multiple places, one side of him was ripped wide open, and he was 100% black and blue, and I could not even find his teeth becase his mouth was so swollen.

I told the vet if he could not save this dog that I would go dig a hole and curl up in it and die. I told the vet, you can NOT let this dog die. Talk about putting some pressure on the vet! Alfalfa seizured for several hours as the vet attempted to work on him and sew up his side.

Alfalfa was hit by a car on a Saturday, very early AM. Except for a very brief visit on Sunday, the vet would not let me see Alfalfa until his office was open on Monday. I stayed wide awake and did not get one wink of sleep, until Monday morning, when I crawled into Alfalfa's cage at the vet, wrapped my body ever so carefully around his, and went to sleep. I slept all the way until the vet closed that evening. I did not know I was pregnant at the time. (!!!!!)

He had some surgery later on, to attach all the loose fragments of his skull and jaw.

When he was well enough, he came home. I took pictures, but kept chickening out on developing the film. Never did develop that film. Shortly after coming home, he had his first seizure, and continued to have them occasionally throughout his life. He made a remarkable recovery considering the extent of his injuries.

When Alfalfa was 3, my then boyfriend had an upcoming court hearing for several charges related to drinking. I wrote the judge a letter, and said, you give this man 6 months in jail, and I promise you, I will take the opportunity to get me and this child out of here. Guess what? The judge gave him EXZACTLY 6 months. And I gottheheackouttadodge! We moved over two thousand miles away. Alfalfa no longer had to stand between me and that jerk when he would threaten to hit me.

Life got much better after that. For awhile, we lived near a small lake. It was in walking distance. We would walk over there every day. One day, Alfalfa decided he didn't want to wait until we got to the shore part, and instead, he leapt off the cliff, and did a 20 foot dive into the water. I will never forget the sight as long as I live. I thought the impact of the water would render him unconscious. Especially with all the surgery that had been done on his skull. I immediately tied my toddler son to a tree with the dog leash by the back of his overalls, and prepared to jump in the water. Amazingly, Alfalfa seemed fine and was having a blast swimming around. I am telling you, the dog was INSANE. Now Alfalfa had to see if he could make it alllll the way over to shore. I was still on the ready, prepared to jump in the water at any given moment. I called Alfalfa over to the right direction towards shore. I hollered andhollered and encouraged and yelled and encouraged. He made it. My throat was hoarse for the rest of that day. Crazy, crazy dog.

He was with us for 12 wonderful years. In his last years, he developed diabetes, and became blind. He was a real trooper through all his twice day shots. He knew after he ate was time for his shot, and he would come lean his side on me and brace himself for his shot. Clearly he knew the shot was medicine that he needed. There were a few times his glucose got out of whack, and sometimes when I took him in, the vet was amazed Alfalfa was still conscious, never mind able to walk into the vet on his own. Diabetics glucose can go out of whack very quickly. We managed his diabetes for 4 years.

One day, he was unable to walk anymore. I took him to the vet, we did x-rays. We tried stronger arthritis meds. Nothing worked. I was sleeping downstairs with Alfalfa on his bed every night, and he would cry, every night.

One morning we knew it was time. We called the vet, and asked him to please come to our house to euthanize Alfalfa.

I believe he could have easily given up and died from the massive injuries he suffered when hit by a car 10 years eariler, but he willed himself to live, because he knew how much I needed him. And when his day came to die, I hurt so very badly. I walked out to the porch where he could not hear me, I burst out sobbing, and I talked to God, and I told Him, I did not have the strength to get through this without being a big mess. I asked God, please help me hold it together until Alfalfa is safe with you. I do not want him to feel he needs to stay alive for me. I then felt a calm come over me, and a warmth, like I was being hugged, and it was very comforting, and gave me a security. Words can't describe it.

I walked into the house, and I talked to Alfalfa, and I told him thank you, for what you did for me. I told Alfalfa, I'm OK now. I am safe now. I told him it was OK to go ahead and be with my Dad. (my father was my best friend and passed away when I was 9)

I managed to hold it together, and Alfalfa died almost as soon as the euthanasia was administered. Alfalfa died in my arms, very quickly, at home, on his bed, that we had slept together on for so many nights. I held it together for a few moments longer, Riley came over and licked Alfalfa on the face, and then I let loose.

I became very stressed after Alfalfa's passing. I couldn't eat, and when I did, I threw up. I couldn't sleep, and I had constant headaches. Riley, his lifetime companion of 12 years, went into a deep depression.

Me and my husband knew, Alfalfa would want the spot in our home to not be wasted, and go to another special needs dog. We adopted Henry Oct. 27th, exzactly one month after Alfalfa died. My health quickly improved. I will always miss Alfalfa terribly, but I am so blessed, for the time I had with him.

Unfortunately I did not have a digital camera when Alfalfa was young, so I only have pictures of Alfalfa in his older years on the computer. Some day I will have his pictures of when he was young scanned at the grocery store and I will add them to the pictures below.

Alfalfa always wanted to be near the children. When I felt the children were being too noisy, I would tell them to play somewhere else, and Alfalfa would just get up, walk over to where the kids were, and lay down in between them. He loved the children very much. Photobucket

No matter how old Alfalfa was, he LOVED to go camping!




The day before he passed on.

Saying good bye.=(


Heidi said...

What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful dog!

Stanislaw said...

What an incredible story. It's so amazing how people and stories can unfold on something as silly as a blog and mean so much. It's truly an inspiration (and your human pups are lovely!).

My mom attended her first "without dog" observation at a hospital on Saturday, which is part of the requirements to get certified to work with therapy dogs. She witnessed a dying woman come to life and light up inside when a 100 lb rottie crawled into bed with her. She gave it hugs and kisses and the nurses said that she hasn't responded to anything in weeks. But on this day she was smiling. From ear to ear she was smiling.

We're kind of amazing, us dogs. Better than medicine I think. We work magic in prisons and hospitals and homes. And hearts. We heal hearts too... but I guess you already know that. :)

Charity said...

Thank you for sharing your memories of Alfalfa. It is so hard to let them go. Maybe he and my dog, Scamp, are up in heaven playing!

Emily said...

Heidi~ Thank you, I feel such a relief since I wrote that. It helped with healing.

Stanislaw~ Congrats on woking towards becoming a therapy dog!!!

You dogs are definately amazing and I know exzactly what you mean about how you heal hearts.

Charity~ I think they *are* up in heaven. And you know, we used to have a chihuahua, named Brittany. Alfalfa was real good with small dogs. He knew when he needed to be gentle in his play.

Something I did not mention in my post, when it was just me the kids and our pets, Alfalfa was extremely protective of us and very on the alert for intruders. He could do quite the ferocious bark, that would scare alot of people. But when I got married, and my husband was home, he only did 'light duty' when it came to guarding his family. He trusted my husband and knew my husband would protect us. I know it brought him great comfort as he got very old, that my husband was around.