"IT'S NOT THE LENGTH OF THE GESTATION, IT'S THE EXTENT OF THE ATTACHMENT."


Friday, July 23, 2010

Sierra's Story



Yesterday, we lost a dear friend. Her name was Sierra.



Sierra was a Black Lab/Rottweiler mix. The Rotty in her made her tough and she never put up with any bull from other dogs, but her heart was so kind. She was often referred to as "Big Puppy" and even though she was over 16 years old, she was indeed a puppy at heart. A puppy with incredibly soulful brown eyes. I want to share some pictures of her with you and hopefully by the end of this blog post, you'll get an idea of the "huggy bear" that she was.



Mr. H and his parents got Sierra when she was about 6 months old. She was, as her name implies, born in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. She was owned by a fireman who couldn't keep her and by way of his father, she made her way to Texas and into our family. I didn't meet Sierra until she was about 6 years old. She was indeed an Alpha female, but she welcomed me with wet nose kisses from the very beginning.


Meeting Autumn was a different story though. I don't think she ever felt threatened by Autumn, she was just annoyed by her. ha! Autumn was 11 years younger than her and she could run laps around her- and she did. She was ALWAYS kissing all over her and wagging her tail in her face. They seemed completely opposite, but mostly it was because of their age difference. Autumn has more energy than she knows what to do with and Sierra was always calm and just wanted to chill. Sierra quickly realized that Autumn wasn't going anywhere and she accepted her. She even began to enjoy her company and would look forward to coming over to our house to play. When we'd go over there Autumn would run into every room looking for her friend until she found her and she greet her with wet kisses. Towards the end, it was as if seeing Autumn gave her a little more energy. She seemed a little more lively and she was comforted by her presence. Autumn was so sweet with her too. She was gentle and careful to walk around without disturbing her. She was tender and caring and so affectionate towards her. She was very concerned about her friend.

She was never a cuddly dog, nor was she a prissy thing. When she was little she'd play with a tennis ball or two, but she couldn't be bothered to play with toys or squeaky stuffed animals- she was too cool for that. She was independent and could do everything on her own. She didn't need to be kissed and rubbed to feel loved. Of course she did LOVE to have her rump scratched and if you stopped, she circle back around until your hand wound up on her back end so you'd could continue to give her some lovin'. If you wanted to rub her soft as silk ears, she was okay with that too.

'Sweet' was her middle name... as long as you didn't get between her and her chew bone :-) It was always funny too see her and Autumn be so territorial over their chews. Then they'd give up the act and switch chews and head in different directions to devour them. Sierra was a little bully though so if she wanted Autumn's chew then she'd get it. Autumn was happy to give it up- anything for her friend.


She was a great traveller and loved to ride around in the back of their SUV. She had her own ramp to help her get in the truck but she had a routine. First she's like to go around the front of the truck then make her way to the back- all on her own time. I had the opportunity to travel with her to Durango and to Santa Fe over the years and she was just as interested in getting out of the truck, taking potty breaks and exploring as much as we were. She was just as happy riding to the doggy park to let loose and chase squirrels too.




Sierra also loved my baking. One of the first things I ever baked when I got together with Mr. H was homemade vanilla wafers. I took the time to stack them and roll them in plastic wrap and tie the ends with ribbons. They made it to Mr. H's parents house and onto the coffee table where his mom was sampling and enjoying them. Sierra somehow snuck over and ate them all when no one was looking. Most recently, I made cinnamon raisin bread and sent a loaf to my in-laws. Sierra lost her appetite and hadn't been eating much over the last couple weeks. I suggested they skip the canned dog food and try some scrambled eggs- she scarfed them up. After a couple days when she tired of eggs, she turned to my cinnamon swirl bread and ate half a loaf :-) That was okay though because most days she refused to eat anything.

On a good day, Sierra weighed between 85 and 90 pounds. When she died, she was about 60 pounds. Her ribs and spine were visible through her thick shiny black fur. If you looked at her from above and she was standing, you could see her pelvic bones- which measured about 8 inches across. She was typically a healthy dog, but because of her breed, she was susceptible to hip problems. Towards the end, it was very difficult to get around. She managed on her own but she was slow. At times, her hind legs were very weak and she couldn't stand for any amount of time and they'd buckle below her. They had to use towels to cradle her in a sling to help her along. There's carpet all throughout the house and that helped with her traction, but there were occasions when she fell and couldn't get up. The past couple of days she just lay on her side and we transported her through the house by dragging her or lifting her with a towel beneath her.

Sierra's liver was also failing due to her age. After all she was 112 in people years. She was on several daily medications and vitamins but it got to the point where they weren't helping her anymore. After she stopped eating, we knew it was only a matter of time. We fed her whatever she would eat. Sometimes it was ground beef, or chicken breast or turkey from my sandwich, other times nothing interested her, not even cheese or ice cream, which were her favorites. She was known to polish off a plate of cheese and crackers that was left on the coffee table or lap up a bowl of melted ice cream. On Sunday she had a little filet mignon and she had a little canned food on Tuesday but I think that was the last she ate. She wouldn't even take water anymore- she didn't have the strength to hold her head up to lap up any water. We don't believe she was in any pain but she didn't have the energy or strength to move. She was in her final resting spot for over 14 hours. Her breathing became labored and my MIL had several calls into vets but she couldn't get in touch with anyone.



Finally a doctor and a tech (which was also her pet sitter) came over after hours to relieve her. They gave her a sedative to keep her calm even though she hadn't moved in hours. Her eyes would blink and her brows would move around when she heard Autumn or someone walk by, but she was just so still. They gave her a shot and within seconds she was gone. At peace. And so still. It was very difficult to watch and it happened so fast but it would have been selfish of us to have kept her any longer. She lived a wonderful life and she was very well taken care of. She brought immense joy to our lives and we will miss her always.

Sierra
April 1994- July 22, 2010

25 comments:

Selba said...

Good bye, Sierra...

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i am so sorry for your loss. it is so hard to lose our furbabies. sierra had a wonderful life and was well taken care of. it makes me want to hug teddy all day!

Virginia said...

I'm sorry, sweetie. Hugs..

The Nanny said...

Oh, Monica, I'm in tears. I'm so sorry for your family's loss...Sierra is a beautiful pup, and while it's comforting to know she's at peace now, I know you all must be missing her terribly.

xoxo

Kelgirl105@yahoo.com said...

Monica, I am sitting here (next to my black lab) bawling my eyes out. We just got our dog a little over a year ago, as a puppy, and I can't imagine how hard it is to lose one of your best friends. You and your family are in my thoughts!!

Jennifurla said...

Sweet Puppy, what a great family you have - rest in peace

Anonymous said...

Monica, I am so sorry for your family's loss. We lost our sweet little Snoopy (kitty) of almost 18 years on March 6 of this year. Reading your story brougth back bitter-sweet memories of him. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Kim

Maranda said...

Oh this post totally made me cry! I'm so sorry for your loss. She seems like she was such a sweet thing. I'm sure you all will miss her terribly. You and your family are in my thoughts. ((hugs))

Nonna Beach said...

Beautiful, tender and touching story...it's never easy to lose a sweet friend who brightened up every day...prayers of comfort and peace to you all.

oneordinaryday said...

A tender tribute, Monica. Love to all of you.

From the Kitchen said...

She'll be waiting for all of you at "The Rainbow Bridge".

Best,
Bonnie

Andrew's Mom said...

I'm so sorry xoxoxo

Rachel said...

I'm sorry Monica. It sucks losing a pet, especially one who has been around forever.

As I was reading this I was thinking of Maggie, our dog who will have been gone 2 years this October. My word verification has the word Maggie in it.

erinunbe said...

So sad to hear of your sweet puppys passing. Prayers of Peace to you and your family. xoxo

Sophie said...

What a beautiful dog who lived an equally beautiful life. You captured it so well. Hugs to you and your family.

csr513 said...

what a beautiful tribute to a beautiful animal. i am sorry for your family's loss. thank you for sharing sierra's story with us.

Becky said...

What a beautiful tribute to a beloved family member.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Big hugs and my love to you all.

Teresa said...

I am so sorry that Sierra has passed. Our prayers are with you and your family.

Seraphim said...

Oh Monica I am so sorry for the loss of your faithful family member. She was so beautiful and glossy and gorgeous. Big hugs and love to you xxx

sapphireblue said...

Awww! What a sweet, sweet family member. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Hennifer said...

Very sweet doggy! I'm sorry for your loss.

It brings back bittersweet memories of our Ebony who we had to put down a couple Christmases ago.

RedHead said...

I'm very sorry for your loss. The death of a pet is one of lifes hardest moments.

Kristi said...

I'm sorry to hear this Monica! How are you doing?

jaded said...

...beautiful...she was beautiful...I am sorry.

Eric said...

Damnit Monica. Way to make a grown man cry! While reading this blog, it made me think about our Penny dog. We don't know how old/young she is, but we do know that she's starting to gray a little. I don't think she's older than 8 though, at the most. I can't even imagine what it's going to be like once we lose her. Lori and I have both talked about it before and we think that it could be more emotionally draining that it was for us when we lost Logan. With Logan, we never shared life with him, outside the womb of course. With Penny, we have shared so much. I don't even like to think about the day when she's no longer with us.

Thanks for sharing that story though. I need to go love on Penny dog now.