In late August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina came barreling up the Gulf of Mexico towards the Louisiana Gulf Shores.
The week before Katrina hit, the company my husband worked for, Sweet Tomatoes, fed the volunteers for the Houston SPCA’s telethon. Sweet Tomatoes was always a strong community partner; and there were many animal lovers who worked there so this was a natural fit. Sweet Tomatoes provided lunch and an hour of working the phone bank. It was always a fun event to do.
Jon and I went back to the SPCA to pick up a few utensils that were left after the telethon. The place was abuzz with activity. It was getting ready to take as many “Katrina” animals as it could. Hill Science Diet had donated pallets of food. Individual Houstonians were bringing food, crates, and toys. Animals up for adoption were moved into the lobby to make room for what would surely be a crush of animals coming in from New Orleans.
One of the little guys up for adoption was a four-month old black lab mix. He had been surrendered on Wednesday; we brought him home on Friday. Because he was so beautiful, we named him Beau, and because of the Louisiana connection, we added an x – Beaux. He was the blackest dog I’d ever seen – black nose, black toenails, black fur.
We brought Beaux home and he was just what the house needed.
As a puppy, he was always eager to play and please. He still is. I would sit on the floor and read and he would climb all over me. He loved to play keep away with Jon. We had a huge oak tree in our back yard and Beaux would run around that tree, teasing his dad, “You can’t get me!”
That first day we had him home, Jon opened the back door to let him out. Beaux started, he had three feet out, the fourth was still in the house and he turned and looked at Jon like, “You’re coming too, aren’t you?” I thought, “this will be our life for the next 12 years,” and it has been. He won’t go if we don’t go with him. His favorite place to be is with us. If we’re in the kitchen, he’s in the kitchen. If we’re in the living room, he’s in the living room. He loves his walks, his toys, his car rides and his peeps. He is a really sweet boy.
Last week he was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Prognosis is one to two months without chemo, maybe a year with. Chemo would be a one to two hour infusion, once a week for three weeks, with the fourth week off, for three or four months. I can’t see putting my sweet 12 year old through that. Like most dogs, he is really anxious at the vet. He had a splenectomy on Monday to remove a tumor the size of an orange. The surgery was palliative. Had the tumor burst, it would have been an awful end to such a sweet life.
He starts a steroid on Monday to slow the progression of the disease. We may buy a little time. What we do know: we will be wherever he is, stay close and keep him comfortable.
So what does this have to do with older adults or planning and preparing for the future? Not much. However, this is a story about family, love and the cycle of life. Of bringing home, falling in love and letting go.
And selfishly, this is a story I needed to share.