Thursday, November 19, 2015

Farewell My Rio Catalina

 Just took a few minutes and looked through some old photo's of Rio.  she was a rescue dog, Many thanks to Friends of Pets for deciding she was worth sparing.  we are grateful for the many years of joy this sweet pup gave us all.
 she came to me at the age of 2, blind.  she had juvenile onset cataracts.  her blindness didn't stop her though.  that nose worked overtime and she was always willing to do most anything with a little encouragement at times.  she trusted me.  i let her down a few times and she would crash into a tree or a fence or some other obstacle.  she was forever the trooper though.
 i knew she would do anything i asked.  we worked together those first months and years finding cues that would help her make her way in this world.  Mostly, i made her walk off leash those first years, helping her gain confidence.  at some point i decided we may have over done the confidence thing as she began to wander off towards a moose smell at every opportunity.  a few close calls later, she was left mostly on the leash.
 Her blindness wasn't the only medical obstacle she had.  she survived surgeries and illness with grace.  she was always an easy patient.  willing to please everyone whom she met
 she had a life of great adventure.  she has traveled by boat and car.  these were not her favorite modes of transportation.  she had her anxious moments.  mostly, she feared being separated from Blossom and I.  as long as we were with her she was calm and happy.  we drove the Haul road, to Denali, Fairbanks, Valdez, Homer...she has been around.
 always gentle, always sweet, always kind.  those are the things i will always remember about Rio
 Rio had her bloat surgery in early June and she did great, but she remained a bit weak after.  this didn't stop her from walking every time she felt the desire.  over the past few months that weakness had become more pronounced.  first her back legs seem to be giving out on her and then these last weeks her front legs.  going up and down stairs or just outside became more and more difficult.  can't say she complained, but i knew life was getting tougher for her. her spirit never waned though.  she wanted to do all she had before...
 one of several coats i made for Rio over the years.  i think this one was everyones favorite..her coat of many colors.  many people in Anchorage knew Rio.  i'd get stopped, they would ask, "is that that blind mastiff" it was always baffling how so many people had been touched by this sweet face.
 yesterday in the early morning hours i heard Rio get up, i'd been waking up a lot of late to help her move around.  this time i heard her fall though.  when i got down to her she was unable to get up and had peed all over herself.  i think i knew at that moment that i needed to let her go.  i think she would hang on to be with me longer, but that would be selfish and cruel.  one good thing about life with dogs is that you have options when it comes to the end of their life.  options that prevent suffering and extended pain.
 making this decision is never easy.  anyone who has loved a dog can attest to that.  it's painful and emotional.  thankfully, i have some wonderful friends, some of whom work as vets and techs, others who just love dogs or Rio, some who are just listening and understanding friends.  i'm grateful for the texting and calls yesterday that helped me find my way to this decision.  the right one for Rio.
 the emotional decision was made a bit more stressful and painful when i called my regular vets office and the office staff informed me that i didn't have an appointment and i would need one and none would be available for at least a day or two.  i found this appalling after i've been a client there for years.  i texted a friend in tears.  "help" i texted.  she has some local vet friends here and was able to make the arrangements at Dimond Animal Hospital for 7pm when her friend came on shift.  he would help us with Rio as his first duty that night.
 through the day, the text call went out.  friends stopped by to be with Rio and I.  it was a Rio sit in or love in or sorts. thanks to all who stopped by and texted support and Rio love.
 since dietary restrictions were no longer of concern so Rio got spoiled with some of her favorite treats, pigs ears and hamburgers.
 i'm sure she was unaware why she was getting all the loves and attention.
 it's difficult because if all she had to do was lay still she could live for years.  her head was clear and her appetite stellar.  sadly, she is not a small dog and not being able to move freely is a huge issue for a large breed dog.  watching her fall over and over has been really tough.  she's slid down the stairs more than once.  it just is not something you can do with a large dog.
 we got a harness for her but it stressed her out and made things worse. i did put it on her to help us get her out to the car for that last ride to  the vets.
 2 friends joined Blossom and I as we headed to the vet.  i'm so happy i took Blossom along.  hopefully these aren't morbid.  these two below are after Rio has passed.  Blossom lay close to her with her paw nearly touching.  we stayed for some time afterwards.  i wanted Blossom to have that time
 Blossom was only 6 months old when Rio entered our lives.  Rio couldn't play with her like she did when she was younger but she was always that presence in Blossoms life.  hopefully, Blossom will cope without her. i sense she will get a bit lonely without her dog companion.
 you don't often see mastiffs out on the trails and out adventuring in Alaska.  perhaps that is why so many people seemed to recognize her as we took walks. she stood out.
 these photo's just remind me of the good life she had and all the adventures she has lived.
 good buddies

 G reminded me that Rio can now see.  she is free of her blindness and the pains and struggles of life.  she is making her way to what animal loves call the rainbow heaven.
 i hope that i live well and can find my way to dog heaven one day to join with all the wonderful pets that i have shared my life well as the coolest people in the and cat people! they will be in dog heaven too.
 Rio was up for any adventure and i've no doubt that spirit will live on as she travels to heaven.
 many would say there is no such thing as dog heaven..of course, many would say there is no heaven at all.  at times like this it helps me to say goodbye though. the idea that we will one day be together again with those we love, be it human, canine or feline.
 S said her dad had told her that God wouldn't have created such a bond between human and dog only to never let us be reunited again.  not exact words but i think there is truth in that.
 i'll just have to hold onto the old pictures and memories for now though.

 we learn a great deal from these lovely animals that share our lives.  it's more than companionship.  they let stuff go, they are happy to see you always, they forgive, forget, they don't argue, they are grateful always.  they are dependable, loyal, kind.
 they are there when we return home, wagging their tails.
 as i go forward i will probably discover all the time and energy that had become required to care for an aging mastiff.  when you have pets, you just do what needs to be done for them.
 i cried again this morning as i had one less food bowl to fill.  one less dog to let outside.  a hole is there and will be for some time i suspect.
 Blossom gets much of the attention in this family...because she demands it.  haha.  Rio though was always my snuggler.  we spend much time on the couch snuggling.  she snored, she farted, she stepped on my bare feet.
 she was super sweet though.  those eyes are soulful, she couldn't see through them, but you could see into them and they told you she was kind and sweet and loving and loyal.
 her loyalty could make you nuts at times, but i knew she had the biggest heart.
 friends used her as a gauge....was it a Rio walk?  they would ask.  if Rio was coming then they could come along and not feel guilty if their kids slowed down a walk i think.  Rio wasn't in a hurry.

 she was afraid of water when she first came into my life. i recall spending a good hour at this tiny creek crossing trying to convince her it was safe to cross.  over time that trust grew and eventually, i had to keep a leash on her near water or i feared she'd get in too deep.

 the element was a car i purchased to some extent because of this giant dog. easier to get her in/out of and room for all of us comfortably.  we all snuggled in there out camping and she was in the car the day the grizzly bear attempted to join us inside the car while we were sleeping.

 us snuggled on the couch together
 these were in Homer right before she bloated.
 it was a really relaxing and fun trip.  she was doing pretty well.  maybe she overdid it that trip.  happy we were able to get out there though.

 just wanted to leave a little blog entry just to have and wander to on those days i think of Rio.
 these are just a few of the many photo's i took of Rio over the years as you can imagine.  she wasn't always the easiest to photograph.  in general if i tried to step back far enough to snap a photo she was already walking back towards me as i attempted to step away.
 she woke us with her snoring and i loved when she would dream.  so often in her dreams her tail would be wagging.  i knew she was happy dog.
 we gave her a happy life and she gave us all she had.  she was a a good of the best.  i've been really blessed to have found this sweet face.
 she and blossom met in a park.  they bonded with each other immediately.  we had a trial period of 3 weeks for the rescue group but i knew within 24 hours that it would be cruel to even consider sending her back.  she had decided this is where she wanted to live and she was happy.
 i hope we made her life as happy as she made ours.
 travel free to the bridge Rio.  we will take you with us in our hearts.

 Thank You for sharing your quirky and beautiful soul with us...Love Betsy and Blossom and the cats.  :-)


  1. Waaaah! That made me cry! I'm so sad for your loss. These dogs really do get in your heart, and I had the same thought today as I was thinking about could there possibly not be a dog heaven when we are so bonded to each other? There must be.

  2. What a beautiful tribute to a loved family member! I am so sorry for your loss - it is so hard to lose someone we love but the memories live on and the pain becomes more bearable with time. Kristin Bartlett Trautloff

  3. Oh jeez, that was wrenching to read. Having a good weep now for Rio. Good to see you today, sorry not to see Rio again.