– MERLIN –
2005 – I am convinced that losing
a Great Dane is different from losing any other type of dog. It just
loved – and lost – a cherished Dane will know exactly
what I mean. Besides their large size, Danes have a large personality.
our families and a large place in our hearts. Of course they aren't
human, but somehow they are more than dog. Their spirit dwells
beyond the realm of mere canine.
Thursday evening we said goodbye to Merlin.
After feasting on his favorite treats and enjoying the comfort of many
hugs and kisses, he slipped away quietly while resting on a blanket
surrounded by the
son of BIS, BISS CH Amherst-Harlwood Bubba Rondo and CH Amherst-Harlwood
Gabrielle, was ten and a half years
old. He was never sick a day in his life; in fact, he outlasted all
of his littermates. Since the beginning of the year, Merlin had been
coping with degenerative lumbosacral stenosis (cauda equina syndrome),
narrowing of the vertebral canal that puts unnatural pressure on the
spinal cord, resulting in nerve injury. Merlin's symptoms were mild
at first – some weakness in the rear quarters, an odd gait, poor coordination
and occasional incontinence. Surgery was not an option so we managed
him as best we could with oral medication and intra-muscular injections.
His condition gradually but steadily deteriorated and he began falling
down from time
He had his good
days and his bad
days; still, he remained cheerful and reasonably mobile.
Things changed last week. Merlin was falling
often, and when he fell, he needed help to get back up.
When he was outside, he'd
face, as if he was trying to motivate himself to move around the yard.
He was losing control of his bowels and sometimes he would
fall right into his stool as he was trying to squat. Other times, day
or night, he would soil himself without even realizing it. In the house,
was lying on his bed, Merlin seemed perfectly fine, but clearly the
burden of his crippled body was taking its toll. Although he was
not suffering overtly, his quality of life was quickly deteriorating,
and one unsupervised fall might result in a painful emergency. Tearfully,
realized the time had come to release Merlin from his physical prison.
To make things easier for Merlin, our wonderful
veterinarian (Nori Warren) and her husband (Will) offered to come
out to the house. Nori
and Will had kept Merlin at their home last summer while we were in
Asia, and they were like his second set of parents. With Nori's sensitivity
and expertise, Merlin's passing was amazingly gentle and peaceful.
I like to think Merlin was met on the other side by Jabber, his beloved
ago. They were best friends. Merlin had never stopped missing (and
looking for) Jabber.
Our house is empty of
now. More importantly, it is empty of the two Great Danes
who I loved beyond reason. Things will never be the same without them,
a day will come when our house seems less empty because it is filled
with happy memories, and perhaps, a new family member. For now, I am
simply trying to manage my grief and adjust to the loss. I realize
(all too well) that this is a natural part of the process of loving
and losing a Great Dane. I'm not alone. We all go through it.
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