The Other Spanky (and Coburn)

Part I: The Other Spanky

There’s another Spanky in the family, Blane and Angela’s dog. She’s a mutt Angela got about five years ago. Someone brought her in to the vet’s where she works. The pup was just 1 day old and the owner wanted to put it to sleep because it was born with a cleft palate.

Now Blane used to make jokes about the vet’s. About how they put more animals to sleep there than they saved. And Angela had just been saying how some new girl at the office wouldn’t cut it in this business because she cried every time they had to put down an animal.

I don’t know how it all went down that day, why Angela didn’t put that dog down. Maybe she didn’t want to do it while the new (sensitive) girl was around. She kept the pup in her pocket at work all day and by the time 5 O’clock rolled around, Angela couldn’t manage to put down the doggie.

I mean, could you?

She got some feeding tubes, puppy formula, and made a commitment to save her. A month or two later a vet friend of hers sewed up Spanky’s palate and she became sort of a normal dog.

Spanky the dog had cowlicks all over her body, eyes that went in two different directions, perpetually bloodshot. She also walked as if she was drunk. We called her “troll dog” because she had this wicked growl with that screwed up palate. She was possesive, too, a bit jealous of Blane, especially when he and Angela moved in together. When it was time for Spanky to go in her crate at night, she’d try to hide. She often stuck just her head under the bed, the rest of her body in full view, but to Spanky, she was deep cover.

She had OCD too, had to make a figure eight in the yard before she did her business.

A couple of days ago she came down with something, got really sick and passed on. Nobody knows what it was.

Part II: Coburn

Liv’s dog Coburn was the biggest German Shepherd I’d ever met. The thing about this dog was he seemed to read minds. You could just look at him a certain way and he’d sit. We’ve been knowing him for a good ten years, visiting just a few days at a time through the years. He never forgot us, even though every year my girls had grown and changed a lot, he never did bark at them as if they were strangers.

On one trip we’d told Liv and Coburn bye for the year, we were going to another place 3 hours away and would continue on with our travels. All evening he was restless. He panted and waited by the door for us to return. It worried Liv. Turns out, we couldn’t find a hotel where we went and had to return to her place. We got back at about 3 AM. Somehow that dog knew we were in a bit of trouble.

In the summer of 2006, when we were telling Coburn goodbye, he whimpered. He’d never done that before. I remember going back one more time and giving him another bear hug. About a month later, he was diagnosed with cancer and given about a month to live. Maybe he knew that would be the last time we’d see him?
Liv had her son dig a deep hole in her backyard in advance. She has a bad back and wanted to make sure he had a proper resting place in case Klaus wasn’t around when the Time came.

Next summer rolls around, we go back and see Coburn again. He doesn’t even look sick.

See? So I’m thinking that dog was misdiagnosed. He looked healthy, a little slow, but hell, he was 12 years old.

The next day, however that dog barely moved. I don’t know where he got all that energy to pretend he wasn’t sick that first day we got there, but it was all gone. A couple of months later, Coburn, too was gone.

Part III: Why I Am Writing About This Depressing Stuff

Well, obviously because these two pets passes away recently. It’s really sad that there are no memorial events for pets. People hurt deeply when they go. I haven’t seen any cards in the sympathy section of the greeting card aisle that are specifically for those kinds of best friends. Maybe they do have them somewhere. But I haven’t seen them.

What about dog angel stories? Ghost dog stories? You ever heard one?

Not until now. Call me crazy if you want (I will revel in it anyway), but I got one for ya.

This last trip to Liv’s? Coburn had been gone for a couple of weeks. I went out and paid my respects to his spot in the backyard. I can’t tell you how empty it felt in that house without him. I think it was the second day at Liv’s, while at her computer, I felt something nudge me in the lower back. I thought for a second, Coburn. Looked around. No one there. And then I thought…

So if you have any kind words to help heal the hearts of Blane and Angela and Liv, feel free to say them here. If you have any pet stories to share, go on ahead. I’m listening.

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19 thoughts on “The Other Spanky (and Coburn)

  1. When Loke passed, I was crazed with grief. Literally. He had not been well. I had gone to a store to pick up water and supplies and I was on the dog toy aisle in that store looking for something for him when I knew, Go home, your dog needs you NOW. And I went. Dropped everything I had and went.

    We were in the country then. I had to drive 12 miles of bad dirt road to get to my dog. And I did that drive, hard driving, pushing harder and more dangerous than those curves and drop offs and dirt roads liked, cursing, wanting to get to my dog, saying, Loke, hold on. And he did hold on. He was waiting. Waiting for me to get home before he died. And I sat and cried holding my dog when he died.

    And then I went out on the porch paralyzed in the night and everything in me was crazy and angry and crying. For a long time. I do not know how long. But a long time.

    And then the dog spirit came.

    It is not something you can see. It is not something you can hear. It is something you feel. Washing over you and through you. Dog spirit. Dog love. Love of the dog spirit.

    And it is not even exactly The Dog you just lost. That dog is there. But it is — more than that. So my only name for it is The Dog Spirit.

    It is also something 24 hours later in the light of day you can wonder about. Wonder if you were so full of grief you made it up in your head, were just off your head.

    And I was off my head. I was off my head with grief.

    But that dog spirit came, and held me me, washed through me, told me I was loved, had not lost that love. And it was not the only time I met the dog spirit. It was just the first time. It has come again. Which is why I know it is real.

    Your dog loves you. Your dog just cannot love you here and now. But that does not go away, that dog love. That lives.

    It is always there in the dog spirit.

  2. Thank you Max. I have always thought that if there is a spirit world for people, there has got to be one for animals, too.
    I’m so glad you made it back home for Loke.
    Liv had that kind of connection with Coburn, something like a sixth sense.
    RIP Loke.

  3. I’m crying buckets here. You know, for the first 3 days after Coburn died I was….well I don’t know how to describe the numbness, loneliness and pain. Then suddenly it felt as if he was back. I still miss seeing him and hugging him so much it hurts, but other than that it feels just the same as always. I used to call him “my stalker”. If he couldn’t be right at my feet, he’d have to keep me in sight, and always put himself between me and the door when he was inside, between me and the gate outside. He’s still very much here ( still stalking) and thanks you for writing so nicely about him. I feel him laughing. He loved it when you came to visit. I don’t know how a dog can tell, but he loved pretty girls/ladies. (must have been a man in a previous life)
    I’m so sorry to read about Loke. Thank God he wasn’t put down, but had a good, if all too short, life. Tell Blane and Angela I feel for them.

  4. Sorry, I meant Spanky. Loke got into my head. I “missed” Coburn’s death by 20 minutes. I had been with him all day on that last day and knew time was short. Eventually I went to make myself some lunch which I could hardly eat. I really didn’t want to go back to him, had this horrible feeling. (if I don’t see it, it didn’t happen) When I did, I ran right to the back of the garden. My world had just crashed.

  5. Liv, Blane and Angela you have my deepest sympathy on the loss of your sweet dogs. Kitty, you’re right about dog spirits as I have heard so many stories from people who feel their dog’s spirit around them after they’ve passed. Not only dogs, but any animal. From horses to birds who come around their loved ones to reassure them that they’re still with them and watching over them. What I’ve learned is that the spirits of animals are right there with us on the other side, not in their own spirit world, but in ours. There are 3 or 4 reputable mediums that I follow and read their books, and they give readings to people whose animals come through from the other side with their deceased relatives. You know I’m so into all of this stuff and have at least 50 books or so on the afterlife/spiritworld.

  6. Hey Liv, again, sorry about Coburn. He was such a damn good dog.
    Thanks for sharing with us more about him.

    Jill, I didn’t realize you were into this stuff and had all those books about it. I’ll have to check out your library next time I go around there. Thanks for writing in, love.

  7. Blane, Angela and Liv, I’m so sorry for you loses. I, personally, do not distinguish between a dead human and a dead animal. You lose a person you love, you lose a pet you love, it’s a loss and it hurts exactly the same. Yes, Kitty, like you, I also believe that there are animal spirits, animal guardian angels, animal angels.

    My dog passed away several years ago, in my parents’ living room. We were waiting for the doctor to come and put him down, but Rascal was smarter than that. Plus, I do not think that his ego and his proud nature would ever allow a malevolent doctor to take his last breath via some kind of an evil drug. Rascal decided it was time he left on his own. I can still remember his eyes staring at mine, though the doctor said that Rascal could not recognize anyone and anything at that point. But I still can. And then he said good bye. And I said goodbye. And he fell asleep. Forever.

    I do not know whether it’s a coincidence or not, but my father left his last breath at that same living room. I guess that that specific living room is blessed to be guiding my family’s loved ones to enternity and to be hosting their spirits ever after. I have told my mother that if anything ever happens to me, I want to be taken to her living room. It’s warm, it’s peaceful, I swear you can still feel dad’s and Rascal’s presence there.

    Blane, Angela, Liv, once again, I’m really sorry. For all it may help ease the pain, one thing I know is that you have been lucky in your life. Lucky to have experienced that kind of love, that kind of bond and connection. It’s unique, it’s lovely and it’s priceless. Not so many people have known that kind of love in their lives. But those who have are certainly more complete inside.

  8. Sophia, how old was Rascal? I’ve heard you talk about him before. That living room, ironic name, isn’t it? I’ve had that feeling about a certain place, too.
    RIP Rascal.

    Spanky the dog did actually have to be put to sleep. They brought her in because she was so sick, worked on her all day and in the end, had to put her out of her misery, she was suffering too much.

  9. Rascal was nine, Kitty. He was infected by a jigger, though we had been very cautious about such bugs on him. That damn thing infected his blood and eventually his heart weakened. Rascal was and always will be my little brother. And, although it still hurts, I feel good inside because I know that though he did not live long, those nine years, they were nine happy years for my rascal.

    Spanky was a fortunate little doggie (how old was she, btw?). She was taken care by two people who loved her. She was offered the opportunity to live in warm, loving, caring house. I am sure that she left happy.

  10. Thanks Jill and Sophia for your compassion and understanding. I don’t need any medium to contact Coburn, he’s in my head talking to me as he always did. We’ve always has conversations going on, without a word or bark being said. Didn’t even need to be in the same room. Rascal, great name. Should have been Coburn’s. He could be a right rascal at times. Always tried to get one over on me, if he managed, I’d get one over him, and so we went on. I always won, and he knew I would, but he gave me a good run. We both enjoyed the challange.
    Oh, just remembered a sweet thing he did. A few years back I had knee surgery. He always went to the toilet right at the back of the garden and I had to go with him. With the bad knee and crutches I was limping slowly and he was walking by my side so close he was just brushing against my leg. The next day I noticed he was limping quite badly. I thought he must have twisted his leg running after balls I used to throw. His limp improved at the same rate mine did.

  11. Rascal is a great pet name. My brother Shane had a raccoon named Rascal. And that he was. Nine years is ripe old age for a dog, right?

    Liv, that is a great story about the sympathetic knee.

  12. It is sad and devasting when a pet passes on, they are a member of the family. It would be more sad if Spanky wasn’t given the chance at one day old because shef didn’t fit some person’s ideal of the perfect dog.

    My sympathies to you and your family.

  13. Spanky was lucky they brought her where they did at one day old. Keeping a dog with a cleft palate is unheard of (they can’t suckle). I think the vet who sewed up her palate had never done one before on a dog.
    That was one lucky dog. She gave us a lot of laughs too.
    Thanks, AJ.

  14. My first cat was named Alligator. He looked green to me. He had sticky outy fangs. His ears were shredded. He was a stray who I fed scraps and then one day I was napping and when I woke up he was on my hip. Purring. He jumped up my leg when he wanted to be held. I could let go and he would hold on with all his paws and nuzzle my ear. He slept under the covers with his head on the pillow. He talked. Constantly. We had conversations. Arguments about how I was working too much. He came into my life when I was broken-hearted and taught me to take care of myself again so that I could take care of him. He would line little things up on my desk – a pencil sharpener, a pen, a paper-clip, a quarter, an eraser – get them right to the edge then look at me and swipe them off the table one by one just to piss me off.

    He got old and he got sick and I held on to him for at least a month longer than I probably should have because I just wasn’t ready. He was so loyal. The only other people he would be nice to at ALL were my mother and sister and we think that’ s only because they smelled like me. He slept between me and my other half from day one. I woke to HIS face, not to my mates. He made sure of that.

    When I finally called the vet and said, “it’s time.” Gator crawled inside my polar fleece jacket and went to sleep. I zipped him in there. It was the calmest and most peaceful he’d been in weeks. He knew. He was thanking me. He was saying goodbye. I still have that fleece though it is old and worn.

    Watching him go was agonizing. My family got me drunk afterwards – my sister and her husband drove 45 minutes to remember Gator and drink with me. I cried for days, it seemed like. I still cry about it. I’m crying now.

    About a month or so later – maybe more – he came to me in a dream. So real. So full of his fabulous personality and love. And I just knew it was HIM. And I knew he was okay. And I knew he forgave me for letting him suffer and for letting him die. I know he’s still around. And I will never not love him.

    Loss is loss and, my heart goes out to Liv and to Blane and Angela. Those were some very cool pooches and they were very lucky to have had you and visa versa.

  15. Gator sounds brilliant. That thing about lining things up on your table, looking at you and then swiping them off made me laugh. Just the sort of thing Coburn would do if my attention was elsewhere. It’s just those cheeky things we miss the most. He really picked you out Sulya. Just like Coburn did me. When I went to buy a dog there were Coburn, a couple of sisters and his big brother who was even bigger than Coburn. While Coburn was squeking and whining, clinging on to me for dear life, pleading with me, his brother was totally cool and laid back. Leaned onto me and settled as if he’d always been in my arms. (they were 6 weeks old) I wanted a big laid back German Sheperd, but there were something about Coburn. I had to come back the next day as I couldn’t make up my mind. The next day I stopped thinking and let my instinct choose. A lot of people seem to think the loss of a beloved pet is as heartbreaking as any other loss. I have to disagree even at this raw stage of my grief. I would have killed Coburn a million times over if there was a choice of him or my son. Without hesitation. Now if it had been me or the dog…..

  16. Sulya, what an amazing cat, your Gator. And what a wonderful family you have to make that drive to have a few with you. That says a lot about you too. When I wrote this post I was thinking lots about something you had written elsewhere.

    Liv, I think it was you who told me we dont chose the dog, they choose us.

    Having lost both loved ones (humankind) and pets, all I can say is that you can’t really compare the two. You can’t measure it. Both are great losses of love, but different kinds of love.

  17. Um, remember Little Cat and how he haunted me for weeks? Remember the pet psychic? People still think I’m nuts when I tell this story.

    “His soul hang around for weeks, close to the ground. We could feel him close by”.

    Then he was reincarnated. Happy ending.

  18. I do, Cyndi and I thought of you after writing this post. Wait, somewhere on this blog, in the early days, I have a post about Little Cat.
    I’ve been wanting to ask about the new cat, how she is doing and whether she is the one.

  19. Pingback: the dog spirit « celluloid blonde

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