Goodbye Phoebe (2000-2011)

Barely a few weeks after losing our cat Sicily, we lost our “baby” Phoebe, an amazing black lab on July 15th. I’ve been putting off writing this for months now, and I really need to get through it. I’m not sure I’ll do her justice in the first post here, so I’ll probably go back later and edit it.

phoebe in sun on deck on mineshaft.jpg

Like Sicily, Phoebe suffered a rapid onslaught of cancer. We noticed a number of small hard lumps going in almost a straight line down her back, and initially attributed them to a skin reaction from changing the stuff we used for anti-flea/tick. But they quickly became larger and harder, and then she simply stopped eating. We tried everything to get her to eat (and I mean everything you can think of). The vet wasn’t sure what the problem was, but was concerned about the lumps, so we tried some different meds and food, and he took a biopsy of one of the lumps.

Long story short, it was cancer and progressing rapidly. In less than two weeks she went from a happy and active dog, to a frail shadow of herself that struggled to stand on her own and could barely drink water. After some long conversations with the vet and now a specialist at the NC State Vet School (one of the highest rated in the country) we decided to try to treat her. There was a reasonable possibility of beating the cancer or we wouldn’t have tried. 

So we tried and she improved quite a bit for a couple of days, but then she got worse again, and very quickly. She couldn’t stand on her own anymore, wouldn't eat again, lost control of her bowels, and was panting in a very haggard manner. We took her back to the emergency room late that night, and they told us she was having a hard time breathing and getting oxygen, and she was starting to get dehydrated. They said they would do what they could to get her through the night, but we needed to make a decision.

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We went back in that next morning and she was still in their intensive care ward. She looked so pitiful. She could barely lift her head an inch off the ground to great us, and her tail could barely wiggle the tip. The vet told us she didn’t think Phoebe could make it another day and was struggling to just breathe. Holly and I decided to let her go peacefully and we were thankful to God for the extra time we had with her while we were trying to treat the cancer.

She ws a talented begger as well. You couldn’t make anything in the kitchen without her needing to be there to inspect what was going on and beg for scraps. She felt she had a duty to lick every plate and bowl before it went into the dish washer (especially if it had macaroni and cheese in it beforehand). We took her to the beach with us every year, and she would go nuts chasing the surf or just running around in the sand. 

She always greeted us at the door, and was sure to bark at any odd sounds or people she wasn’t familiar with. But she was tremendously sweet for a dog. Even late at night when I would be working at the computer, she would come in, sit down next to me, and put her head in my lap. And of course, when she was cold she had her spot on the bed, even if that meant pushing us off.

Phoebe at Vet with monkey.jpg

She always greeted us at the door, and was sure to bark at any odd sounds or people she wasn’t familiar with. But she was tremendously sweet for a dog. Even late at night when I would be working at the computer, she would come in, sit down next to me, and put her head in my lap. And of course, when she was cold she had her spot on the bed, even if that meant pushing us off.

I have so many more things to say or talk about, but I’m running a little out of steam now. Even months later, it is hard to talk about her. I loved that dog dearly, and anyone that knows me, will tell you we bragged about her a lot and were devastated at losing her. It still hurts deeply. I catch myself looking for her, or expecting to see her around the corner. I can barely look at my photos of her without tearing up a little bit. 

We recently adopted a new member to the family, another black lab mix (rescue), named Sydney. I’ll write about her later. Its been hard not calling her Phoebe, and remembering what we have lost, but she is quite a unique dog herself and is already making new memories with us.

I can’t help but think that Phoebe would have liked Sydney, and I wish they could have met. I think they would have gotten along well.

 I’ll probably upload some other photos here or in the gallery later.

Sleepy Phoebe - by robertrice.jpg