If you don’t enjoy tributes to lost pets, just don’t read this post. But if you know what we’re going through, you know. On Friday, our own living, mascot for Cal-Hi Sports, Chuckles, a black pug mix we had for 11 ½ years, died after a short illness.
Some believe that most people, if they’re lucky, may have three great dogs in the course of their lifetime. There’s that first one you have when you’re growing up in childhood and perhaps you have into college years. There’s the second one when your own kid or kids are growing up. And there’s maybe a third one you have in your golden years.
For my family, I lost the second great dog of my life and the first great dog of son Sean’s life on Friday when we had to put him to rest with probably just a few hours left in his life. The dog’s name was Chuckles, but he had a myriad of other nicknames, including Chuckles McGinty, Ginty, Ginterkins, Pupper and more.
When you have a website like this one, you try not to show everyone when there’s difficult times. Hopefully, the only difference in our coverage during the week was that there was no stat stars, record book column. It was just easier — and proved to be very timely — to run the feature story I had written a few weeks ago for my friends at SportStars Magazine about Mission Viejo’s Olaijah Griffin.
Chuckles first showed symptoms that there might be something very wrong on Tuesday of last week. He just seemed to be having balance issues while walking. He was taken to the vet on Wednesday and after a few tests and x-rays the bad news was revealed: a tumor was in his stomach. My wife, Kathleen Moody, and I probably would have had him euthanized that day to save him from any suffering, but there was a complicating factor. Sean was in Reno attending classes at the University of Nevada. Chuckles was his dog more than anyone else’s, a dog who was actually sleeping on his bed with him for almost every day since March of 2006 when we adopted him from the local shelter until August of 2014 when Sean went off to college for his freshman year. We wanted Sean, a 2014 grad from Lincoln (Stockton), to be here for his dog’s final hours so we took Chuckles home and basically became hospice nurses for him.
It was heart-breaking to see Chuckles’ decline so rapidly as the week went on. The vet didn’t actually say it, but I think the cancer got into his brain, first impacting his motor skills. He was able to raise his shoulders on Wednesday to eat pulled pork out of the crockpot for what ended up being his last great meal.
Kathleen was absolutely incredible in her care for Chuckles in the last days. We spoon fed him water and had to carry him outside for attempts at urination. It was no way for a dog to live, but we were on a mission. C’mon, buddy, hang in there. Sean will be home soon.
The earliest Sean could get home we thought was going to be 1 p.m. on Friday. By Thursday night, we weren’t sure Chuckles would last. Sean sent a text on Friday morning before 7 that he was on his way. He later said he wasn’t sleeping anyway. He got home at 9:30 a.m.
Chuckles was breathing when Sean opened the door from the garage. The dog had a noticeable reaction, his ears going up and his eyes opening wider. He hadn’t had any reactions like that earlier in the morning. The former boy with his best friend were able to spend some time together with Sean whispering in Chuckles’ ear. We knew how hard that was for Sean, but we also knew somehow, someway that it was comforting for Chuckles.
Sean wasn’t sure what to expect upon seeing his childhood dog in this condition. We had decided to let him make some of Chuckles’ end-of-life decisions as much as possible. He is 21 going on 22. Now that he had made it home in time, part of this journey was over. The other part was still to come.
Saturday at 2 p.m. was previously set up as the appointment of the vet technician to come to the house. The folks at Rosemarie Pet Hospital in Stockton were awesome through this entire ordeal and told us they don’t usually perform euthanizations as house calls, but Chuckles was a patient of theirs for many years. Sean later said after the three of us saw Chuckles begin to have muscle spasms and wimper a few times that he felt compelled to see about having the vet come earlier. We called at 2 p.m. on Friday and the appointment was made for 3 p.m.
One of the most amazing aspects of the entire experience was seeing how the dog reacted almost at the exact time we knew that his little life was going to be ending in a short time. No more muscle spasms. Just comfortable breathing.
The technicians, Edgar and Martha, were professional and compassionate. So was Pfianny of the Rosemarie staff. When it was over, we just had them carry Chuckles out to their vehicle on the pad he was on when he passed. We certainly were not going to use that pad for anything else again.
Chuckles was our little champion because of how he fought to the end to stay with us until Sean came home. He was our little champion because of how he helped Sean, as an only child, grow up. He was our little champion because of how he helped us cope in those first two years when Sean had started college. He was just a great little fella who will be missed greatly by all who knew him.