Dax was an Australian Cattle Dog I rescued in Colorado, more years ago than I can remember. Meant to be my husbands companion, she became mine when he left us. We’ve had a pretty remarkable relationship ever since.
She was a sensitive type of dog, right from the beginning. I learned quickly, that you didn’t need to yell at Dax to make your point. She knew every word of english I do, I swear. All you had to do was frown abit and she would know you were unhappy with her and she would hang her head in shame.
Loyal to a fault, she never needed a leash or collar. She could be trusted to stay in the yard, even when unattended for hours. I had as much control over her at liberty as anyone had with their dogs on a lead. She was the best dog I ever knew
The vets have been telling me to expect the worst for the past 7 years on and off. First was the diagnosis of a ‘fatal’ congenital heart defect when she was 8 years old. The cardiologist had never seen an adult dog with the condition and was amazed when I told her she spent her days chasing horses about. He fully expected her to drop dead one day without surgery. I told him that if she dropped dead doing something she loved so much…so be it.
Dax loved to chase my gelding, Manny. It was a sport I never could get control of and since she was such a perfect dog in every other way, I tried hard to let it go. But the sport has had its risks. She’s been knocked senseless twice…both times I thought she was dead. She has broken her cheekbone, her jaw,and several ribs (flail chest..the vets thought I would definately lose her over that one) and lost several teeth. I stitched her up several times at the barn without any anesthetic…she just stood still, letting me tend to her wounds, before turning right back around and going back to work.
A year ago (a full 6 years after the deadly heart diagnosis) she did start to show signs of congestive heart failure. The vets stabilized her with medication, but were very pessimistic, saying Dax would likely die in the next few weeks, as they have never seen a dog survive this disorder.
A month went by, then 2 and she resumed her job of chasing my gelding, as well as frolicing with our 5 other dogs. I tapered her off her meds and started her on CoQ10 and hawthorn berry, which she has been stable on for the past 10 months. The only thing slowing her down was some arthritis in her lower back.
We had 9 dogs at the house this weekend with my family visiting. Dax did all the things a pack of dogs do together. After everyone left yesterday, she ate her dinner, napped on the couch, then laid at my feet while I checked my email, which was her habit. I looked down at her once and she was gently playing with our 3 lb yorkie puppy…teasing her with a toy. I smiled. Then her breathing became erratic briefly, the light left her eyes and she was gone…in an instant.
As much as I will miss her presence in my life, I am grateful that she went quietly and quickly, without pain or a trip to the hospital. She lived a life we could all learn from. A love of play, an intense drive to keep moving, and totally irrepressible spirit of love and loyalty.
This dog taught me to never buy into anyone else’s paradigm of negativity. It was by watching her out survive the vets’ prognosis over and over again that has given me the confidence and freedom to say ‘no’ to traditonal intervention when that felt like the right road to take. I have no regrets as her caregiver. She led a very full and happy life to the moment she passed. There is alot for me to be grateful for on this Thanksgiving weekend indeed.