11 years ago I went to the pet shop to buy a kitten. I left with a Saint Bernard pup!
After much thought, I named her Maddison. She was a big goofy idiot but was unbelieveably loyal, all she wanted to do was please. And eat!
She was so much fun, we'd walk and swim and run and play together for hours. I never walked her on a lead, she'd maybe walk 2 meters ahead and would always stop to make sure I was still behind her. Sometimes when she'd wandered off a little, I'd hide behind a tree and she would have to come find me, full of excitment when she did!
When Madds was about 6 months old she was lying in the back yard when I said goodbye to her before I went off to tafe. When I returned she was still in the exact same position, she hadnt moved all day. Stressing, I took her to the vet who told me she might have a bone stuck in her throat or something, she'll be alright. They didnt take xrays or anything, just watched her over night and charged me for it! I took her to another vet. Thank god. I couldnt reccomend this new vet any higher. Especially Adrian, Madds' vet. Adrian took xrays and was shocked to see that Madds had the worst case of hip dysplasia he has ever seen.
I spent 1000's trying to get her better, but shes my baby. No way was I letting her suffer because of money. So first off we tried an operation where they cut the musscles in her joints, but that didnt work, so we stuck to montly injections to eliviate her pain and reduce the inflamation, it helped but didnt cure her. My next option was an experiment, Adrian had heard of it before, but it had never actually been proformed in Australia. But it was worth a shot, as my only other option was to send her to Sydney (big money in its self getting a 60kg plus dog to Sydney!) where she would have both her hips replaced, at $5k per a hip, with only a slight chance of success. So we tried Adrians idea. It was acupunture of sorts, she had gold ball bearings placed in her hip joints. They held her joints in place and allowed more freedom of movement. Thank God, this was a major sucess, Madd's became Adrians pride and joy. She wasnt perfect though, so there would still be many vet visit to come, but each one had Adrian shocked by how great she was doing. He had doubted she would live much longer than 2 or 3 years.
But I was lucky enough to have 11 amazing years with her. Even without hip displaysia, a Saint Bernard has a life expectancy of 6 to 8 years, so theres no denying, she was a special dog! She was petrified of loud noises, Thunder, fire works, the vacuum. You name it, I have a blog entry for it! When we knew a storm was coming and couldnt be home, Madds' shelter was the laundry. The laudry now has a piece of plaster missing, scratch marks in the walls, no fly screen on the window and no door handle on the inside - she ate it! We also lost a beautiful rug one day - I wont get too far into that story, but let me just put a few words in your head, and you can use your imagination... 60 kgs, bowels, runny, splatters, STINK. We didnt even atempt to clean it, we rolled it up and threw it straight out! But for everything Madds detroyed in her life I'd give a thousand times to have her back.
In her last few years, her legs failed her but she was happy enough to sit on the verandah and bark at anyone passing, and more than anything she just loved being outside. Even as a puppy she would sit out side in the rain just looking around. She was the most gentle giant you'd ever meet. In the last year she could barely walk a few steps, I had to help her move by putting my arms under her tummy and lifting her hips, saving the pressure from her, she was around 68kg by this stage... more than me!! But she was still content. All she needed was a pat and some food - as much as possible. Adrian would drop in every now and again, Id ask him over to give her some pain killers and to assure me that I wasnt being cruel, and only keeping her alive for myself, but each time he'd be amazed by how happy and despite her legs, how healthy she was. She wasnt in pain, it would have been annoying for her not being able to walk, but she wasnt in pain. I admit, she was pretty gross! She had dreadlocks and stunk! I didnt want to make her suffer through a bath or a brush when she didnt have long to go... but she just kept living.
Then came the heat wave. Melbourne was hit by an amazing heat wave early this year, consecutive days of above 40 degrees. It was the second day when I got home to see Madds virtually passed out on the verandah. Because she feels the heat so much we had an old plastic sea shell, they type that people make sandpits in for their kids, we had the filled on the verandah and Madds would spend her days just lying in it, until she was so cold that even though it was 40 degrees, she was shivering! But not this day. Madds had heat exhaustion. She couldnt even lift her head to the bowl of water. After a bit of a freak out (sorry neighbors!) I poured about 8 litres of water down her throat, called Adrian and my mum. Steve and I managed to get her into the sea shell filled with water and we just poured water over her. We had to get her to the vet, because of the fact I wanted her cremated. So we got our next door neighbor, my sisters best friends amazing father and got Madds (who at this stage would have been her 70 kgs plus the weight of her wet fur) in her sea shell filled with water on to the back of Steves ute. We were a sight to see! My sister sat in the back of the ute with Madds for our trip to Kilsyth, So heres my sister sitting in the back of a ute with a Saint Bernard, in a bath!
We got the vet and about 5 nurses followed Adrian out to the car. Not only was he there on an above 40 degree day, after hours, it was also his day off! So there we are, me, Steve, my sister and her friend, her friends dad, Mum and my other sister, Adrian and the nurses, all facing a big problem, how do we get a wet, 70 plus kilo Saint Bernard out of the ute and into the vet?! By this time there was a bank up of cars watching from the road! We ended up rolling her onto a blanket, getting her to the ground then each of us took a part of the blanket and carried her in, leaving a trail of wet dog smell behind us! When we went into the consulting rooms we all said our good byes and I was able to spend a lot of time with her, Thanking her and making sure she knew I loved her and letting her know that I knew she loved me too. I'll never ever forget her sad sad eyes. I need a break...
Ok, Im compossed again! Adrian finally sent her to the Rainbow Bridge (the Rainbow Bridge is where our pets wait for us, where they are all well, healthy and happy again, google it!) I sat with her and watched her take her last breath. At that EXACT time, the power went out, the EXACT second she took her last breath all the power went out in the vet, we all just looked at each other, I gave Madds a big hug and kiss and thanked her for everything, especially her final, very eventful good bye! I had her cremated and she came home in a beautiful box that now sits on my bed side table. The day I bought her home I took her to Lillydale Lake and sat with her on a hill and bawled my eyes out, I would have looked like such a freak, but it was what I needed to do.
Thanks for 11 of the best years of my life Maddison, you'll forver hold a big place in my heart.
Until we meet on the Rainbow Bridge...