A friend of mine on facebook is currently going through a hard time with her dog. Her dog is happy go lucky, yet her body is failing. Honda was pretty much in the same situation. Writing condolences to a friend at this time has brought back wonderful memories I have shared with my girl, so I wanted to write the story of Honda as a tribute of some kind.
Ever since I could talk, I always wanted a dog. Yes, I wanted to bring a dog into a non-dog household. I was allowed to have guinea pigs, hamsters, fish, etc. But these never really satisfied me as much as a little puppy dog would.
My brother had a girlfriend at the time with parents that owned, Honda. They also had another dog that they had to put to sleep due to old age. They felt they were getting too old to own dogs, so they were looking for a home for Honda. I remember secretly talking to Mikey, my brother, about it, planning on when I’d ask, how I’d ask, etc. I remember bits and pieces of it (Hey, I was excited and I was only 12). We were at TGI Friday’s eating dinner and I brought it up. I wonder if my parents already knew I was going to ask… Dad ended up saying we’d give it a try, but if he didn’t like her, she was going back. I’m surprised I didn’t cry at that point in time. I was ecstatic. I wonder why he said yes at this particular time, to this particular dog. Something I may ask in the future.
I remember the day we were going to pick her up. I was so excited, we put a sheet down in the back seat for her. I remember going in and meeting this sweet, yet plump, little girl at three years old. (Okay, plump was an understatement. This dog was chunky. The highest the breed weight goes for a dalmatian was at the most, 70 lbs. Honda topped the scale at 83 lbs.) But it didn’t matter, she was my first dog, and I was in love.
They told me the story, briefly, of how they got her. It went along the lines of, some pit bull fighters got her when she was two months old. They abused her until they rescued her at 8 months. Very vague, I sometimes wonder if it was true. But, Honda was very calm in nature, sometimes timid. She winced if you brought your hand to her face too fast, but she still had a good outlook on life. They also told of her name. Apparently no other name was fitting her, so she went without a name for awhile. Then one day, the girlfriend’s sister got out of her Honda Civic and decided Honda was the only name that fit her. I think that is why I never changed her name. Honda did suit her well.
Honda and I spent many days playing by ourselves, or with other friends. She loved me, but she really loved my dad. I would set up small agility courses with mops/brooms, chairs to climb under, and we’d run them all day. She was three years old and in her ‘prime’. I ended up being able to get her down to 65 lbs. While she looked good, she still had her ‘moo cow utters’ because of the weight she had lost. She was always called, ‘My Little Moo Cow’. Also reinforced by the fact that she loved to go outside and graze.
Honda was a good girl and was reliable off leash. She came knowing your basics of sit, down, sit pretty, catch a treat off her nose. The only trick I ever taught her was roll over. Everyone loved her sit pretty. (Which I can’t believe I don’t have a picture of!)
When Zac, my husband, came into my life, she really took a liking to him. We would always go bike riding with Honda, and she did so well at keeping up. Really, these dogs can run. I’d always take her over there with me and she got to meet Zac’s dog, Claiborne. She was a timid animal, probably due to the fact that the guy that gave her to his family let them go at four weeks old. She refused to go further than the block they lived on for a walk.
She’d get worked up and throw up. She hated car rides, and wanted nothing more than to just sit at home all day. Claiborne and Honda tolerated each other as they both weren’t the playful type. However, when fireworks went off, they were both found in the basement bathroom, huddling together.
My freshman year of college I had to live in the dorm. My parents, while they liked Honda, did not want to have to care for her in my absence. I was lucky enough to have made friends with a lady down the street who owned a chocolate lab named Jake. I used to walk Jake and Honda together when his owner was having knee surgery. He was your usual lab, outgoing, needed lots of exercise. And she is a devoted owner, taking him on multiple walks a day. She was nice enough to take Honda for me during that year. It sucked only being able to see Honda on my breaks when I came home. But luckily that year flew by.
Zac and I moved into an apartment by my college and I got to bring Honda with me! She lived the good life her last few years of life. Finally being able to settle down in a warm apartment, surrounded by people she loved. (While I also had a room in the basement, and it was finished, Honda wasn’t permitted upstairs at my parents house)
In February of 2009, we acquired Remy-dog. My first puppy and I was so excited. When we took Remy to get her check up, we also took Honda for a check up. Honda had been limping on her back leg, and we thought the usual arthritis. She was nine years old. The vet said that he would take x-rays of it while she was under for her teeth cleaning. (He also said she had the cleanest teeth for a nine year old) She also had grown this cyst on the side of her face. It was fluid filled and the vet thought it was probably in her salivary gland, and they really wouldn’t be able to do anything for it because of its location. Thinking nothing of this, we went on with our day while Honda was at the vet. Later that day Zac received a call, his face was in shock. I was handed the phone, along with the news that Honda had osteosarcoma in her hip. It looked like moths went through and ate holes in it. I was also delivered the news that she would be lucky to see the fourth of July.
It’s hard to get news like this when you thought your best friend would at least make it to your college graduation. I was only a sophomore. Nine years young, when I thought she’d live to at least twelve.
The next couple of months sucked. I felt bad because they had her on steroids which made the cyst go away for a bit (along with draining it), but it eventually came back. Honda still limped the whole time. Around April, the cyst pushed its way into her nostrils and eyes, causing a pretty bad infection. she would sneeze and green boogers would shoot all over the wall. Her eyes became crusty and she could hardly open them. She was put on antibiotics and they helped for a bit. She was still my happy little girl, so I knew it wasn’t time to let her go, even after everyone would tell me to. She still had too much life.
I think I knew it was time when she was still on antibiotics and the infection came back. Somethings about her demeanor and look on life dampened and I could tell she just wasn’t happy anymore. She was trying to let me know it was now time. I’m glad I noticed this because I would sit in bed late at night and wonder how you’re supposed to know when to let your best friend go? They still loved life so much, they just couldn’t use their body as well anymore. She just looked so miserable, I knew it was time.
We took her in on May 4, 2009. I held my composure the whole time, which I was surprised with. The vet put her under sedation, and then injected the euthanasia medicine. It wasn’t until she was actually gone that I could shed my tears, and they hit me hard. I didn’t want to let Honda see me cry. She’d been there enough for me when I cried and I needed to let her know that I was going to be okay, I could make it without her. She didn’t have to worry about me anymore.
I think the part that hurts me most is the fact that I know so much more information about nutrition, vaccines, and general care that she could have probably lived so much longer. I could do so much better for her now, but my time is gone. I know its not my fault, just the way we live and grow. But it still hurts. A lot. But now I have Delta and Doc and I can only hope that they make it well past nine years old. I can only hope that I will make Honda proud by how I raise my two now. I can only hope they will be healthier than Honda at nine years old. And I can only hope that when Delta and Doc are taken from me, Honda will find them and they can be together for the first time.