by Andrea Cordle
The most difficult thing about having a pet is having to one day say goodbye. For me, that dreaded day came on May 26 when I had to let my beautiful 11-year-old dachshund, Meeko go.
Just a few days before his passing, Meeko was fine. He ate breakfast and dinner, performed his daily neighborhood watch and even went for a walk at the park. Later that night, he started to act like something was wrong. He laid on my lap. I could see he was breathing heavy and I could feel his heart racing on my leg. I had no idea what was going on. A short time later, my little dog just collapsed. My sister and I rushed him to the emergency animal hospital.
I sat in that hospital in a state of shock. I kept saying, “We were just at the park. He was fine. How could this be happening?”
The doctor told us that Meeko had a large mass on his spleen that had ruptured, causing internal bleeding. He needed emergency surgery to remove the mass and his spleen, but he was in no shape to have the surgery needed to save his life.
The doctors were able to stabilize Meeko and he had the surgery. He spent a few days in the hospital, but I was finally able to bring him home to recover. I cannot even describe the relief I felt having him home. I believed that he would recover, the way he had recovered from so many other ailments.
As the day wore on, I realized that Meeko was not doing well. He refused to eat or drink, he could not stand and he was not responding to us. I decided to take him back to the hospital.
I was blindsided by what came next. I truly believed that Meeko just needed more time to recover; after all he had just endured a major surgery. At 1:30 a.m. the phone rang. It was the doctor saying Meeko was bleeding in his brain. He was unresponsive, having a major neurological event. He was essentially in a coma. He was breathing, but my dog was gone. Recovery was highly unlikely.
My mom, my sister, my other dog, Frankie (Meeko’s littermate) and I drove to the hospital to be with Meeko as he was gently put to sleep. When we arrived, the staff took us back to be with Meeko. At one point, Meeko tried to lift his head and he made this squeaky noise. He was trying to respond to us, but couldn’t. I believe it was Meeko’s way of letting us know that he knew we were there with him as he left this world and went onto the next.
The doctors say Meeko’s mass had either spread to his brain or he had a blood clot that broke away and made its way to his brain. Either way, the result would be the same.
Part of the reason this was so shocking was that Meeko had survived and recovered from so much throughout his short life. He had a deformed paw that caused arthritis at an early age. He was allergic to just about everything and had to be on a prescription diet. He had constant ear infections and severe allergic rhinitis. He had surgery to repair his CCL on both of his legs. His skin broke out in bacterial infections. But none of it really seemed to faze him.
Meeko was not a healthy dog, but he was a happy dog. Despite everything, he loved life. He loved to run and roll in the grass even though he was allergic to it. He loved to sit in dirty waterways, even though it made his skin break out. He loved to run all over the house with his favorite toy and go for long walks at the park even though he had arthritis and a deformed paw.
I always admired him for that. The way he just went about his life even though he probably didn’t feel all that great. He was such a trooper and the definition of a tough little guy.
I cannot say everyone who met Meeko loved him. He was not a very social dog. He was standoffish to most people and he flat out did not like other dogs. But he loved his brother, Frankie and he loved his family. We were the only living things in this world that he cared about.
Meeko had the best greeting ever. It would go on for 10 minutes if you let it. He would hear the garage door go up and his siren of a bark would begin. Then, he would see it was me walking through the door. He would run up to me, his whole body wiggling. After the initial greeting, he would then go over to the couch, where it was understood that I must follow. Then he would use the couch cushions to balance as he propped himself up on his hind legs to push his paws up at me. My family referred to this as “raising the roof.” This little dance he did was so adorable and I will cherish that memory for the rest of my life.
Meeko also took his job as neighborhood watch captain seriously. He would sit on the arm of the couch and look out the window. If anything moved in front of the house, we knew about it. He barked at everything. Sometimes, it would drive me crazy. Now, I would give anything to hear that shrill bark again.
In 11 years, I learned so much from Meeko. He taught me lessons on toughness, sacrifice, forgiveness, patience, kindness and of course unconditional love. My family and friends know how tough this loss is on me and they keep telling me how lucky Meeko was to have someone like me care for him. But I think they got it backwards. I am the lucky one. Meeko chose me. For that honor, I will be forever grateful.
Andrea Cordle is editor of the Southwest and Westside Messenger.