We got Stitch 7 1/2 years ago, in the fall. His head was so big that when he wagged his tail his butt would come off the ground. He grew into a dog so beautiful that people would stop us on the street and comment on how beautiful he looked. He also grew into one of our best friends.
He had very high ideals on how a dog should behave himself, and we joked about how proud he was. He was always up for a kiss on the face in the morning, just after our showers. Nothing made him happier than chasing away the UPS man with a single bark.
Last night at 5:57 pm we were in the back yard and I noticed he was drooling profusely. He made a noise like he was going to throw up but couldn't.I called Bill to tell him to hurry home because I thought there was something wrong with Stitch.
Then Stitch walked up to me, and I saw he was breathing very heavily. He laid his head on my lap and waited calmly while I petted him, then he rubbed his head against my leg and walked inside the house. Only a moment later I heard Marissa scream for me, and I ran inside. He was panting heavily and his tongue was blue. I had already left a message for the vet to call me, but I left the room to get the phone book to try another vet. Before I could finish the call, Marissa screamed again. I went downstairs to find her on the floor, Stitch in her lap, wagging his tail feebly.
I called his name, and he moved his head a little. My phone rang. Bill calling me back, but as soon as I answered I got another call: the vet. I hung up on Bill and answered the vet, screaming a little incoherently. He said to meet us at his office. I called Bill back and he said to listen for a heartbeat, and do mouth to mouth. Marissa did mouth to mouth on Stitch all the way to the vet's office, sometimes with me pumping his chest over the back of the seat in a sort of attempt at CPR. I made the twenty minute drive in 12 minutes. Bill was there just as we got there, and carried Stitch inside.
I knew in my heart it was already too late, but we had to try. We were only there a minute before the vet came back out. He said Stitch had a twisted stomach, which I guess is common in large dogs. From that first panicked phone call to Bill, to the time the vet shook his head was 30 minutes exactly, so at least he didn't suffer. And he had time to say goodbye to the family members who were here. He got to spend the morning on the porch, waiting to bark at the mailman like always. He got a belly rub, and got to say good morning to Bill and I by kissing our face and smearing our glasses. And got to take a clandestine nap on the couch. It was a good last day.
Stitch was definitely a member of our family and his absence will be deeply felt, not just by us and our extended family, but by my daycare kids, who loved him as well. I know that the conventional Christian wisdom is that dogs don't have souls, and that they just stop being when they die, but I have never really been able to believe that. God doesn't do anything without a purpose, and I cannot believe He would create something capable of so much love, and capable of inspiring so much love, only to have it suddenly just stop existing. Maybe dogs are like angels, servants of God, who do his bidding and then get to spend eternity in His presence. I think so. And I know that Stitch was certainly like an angel to us. So, I guess I'll think of him from now on as being in God's presence, and not having to compete for a spot on the sofa anymore.
Love ya pal.