Brandi was a good girl. She was a big, clumsy, happy, gentle soul. And she was always a good girl. All you needed to do to send her into leaps of joy was to tell her she was a good girl.
We put her to sleep on Saturday. She was eight years old, getting up there for a giant breed like a Mastiff. She had cancer.
Because of a bad spay, she leaked urine. Twice a day we put a mixture of three hormone pills down her throat. She sat. We opened her mouth, put our hand down her throat. Waited to make sure that she swallowed while we praised her.
She loved everybody and everything. She loved the horses, and would bark and play with them. Feeding the horses was one of her favorite activities. If you didn’t know which way to go, she would help by putting your arm in her huge mouth and leading you.
She put up with puppies and cats and pigs and kids crawling on top of her.
She and Keely grew up together. I never heard her growl. She had her nails done. Bows in her hair.
Suffered through baths in the shower, sometimes with a lot of company.
She was not brave in any way. Steve would stand on the other side of the door and growl and bang on the door. The other dogs would bark. All you heard from Brandi was the sound of the dog door flap as she took off for the pasture. We would joke that if anyone every broke in, the only chance of her hurting them would be if they were in the way of her running.
She would sit, lift a paw, and ask very politely for you to pet her. Again and again.
I loved her so much. Everyone did. She loved Steve, and he loved her. His big girl. They would have a lot of talks.
She was just a big lovable dufus. A true sweet gentle soul that we were blessed with for eight years.
Two weeks ago she wouldn’t come out of her house when I called her. I opened the door for her, and she slowly came out. She seemed reluctant. She also had wet herself, which was not unusual. So she walked a little stiff legged, again, not unusual.
But she wasn’t interested in her food.
A few days later Steve called me out. She had come up the hill to be fed, but her hind legs weren’t working right. She half wobbled and half crawled up the hill. It was one of the most painful sights I’ve ever seen. Steve had to drag/carry her back to her house. It was the last time she was ever outside. She quit eating and drinking.
We called the vet. She thought it was cancer. There was a heart murmer. At eight, Brandi was old for a Mastiff. We decided to try for a miracle and give her steroids for a few days.
The steroids brought back her appetite, she started eating turkey and meat if we fed her by hand. She drank a little.
But she could only move her front legs.
So she laid in the doorway of her house while we hoped for a miracle that we really knew wouldn’t come.
On her last day I brought the other animals into the house. Steve had started to make a trip to Durango, but was able to get in contact with the vet. He said he would be there around 11:30. Steve headed back.
I went to her house, opened the big door and put her head on my lap. She was able to see the blue sky, the trees, the mountains. I cried harder than I have cried in a very long time.
But for two hours Brandi got to eat peanut butter treats and turkey and cheese. She heard me tell her over and over what a good girl she was and how much she was loved.
The vet was kind and gentle. I held her while she went to sleep for the last time. No more pain, no more confusion.
It is hard. This doing the right thing for our pets. It is a responsibility we take on, if we are going to be “their people”. But I think, in a way, it makes the pain less for me. To know that we could, with love, choose the way and time of her going. I watched as she lay peacefully in my lap, hearing my voice, knowing love. It was my last, and perhaps, best, gift I could give her.
I called her my whabada. Because that was the noise her lips and ears would make as they flopped when she ran.
I think of her now, my sweet Brandi, whabada. Running free.