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RUN-DE-VOUS Endurance Runs

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Celebrating A Loved One
Divya Madhavan
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We arrived back home, after I had completed a 37 mile run from Santa Cruz to Marina.  Apache, our standard dachshund, was waiting at the door, ready to come out and do his business.  He brought his favorite pink ball out, dropped it by my son's foot, and wagged.  Jonah bent down, picked up the ball, and carefully rolled it onto the grass.  Apache turned to fetch the ball, and let out yelps of pain.  I've never heard him make these sounds, and I came running into the front yard.  He could no longer lift his backside off the ground, and looked at me with pain in his eyes.  He had ruptured another disc in his back.  We'd been down this road a few years back, and knew we had 24 hours to act.  He had back surgery then, and it took him 6 weeks of constant crate rest and daily physical therapy to mend the ruptured disc.  The first time around, he didn't loose the use of his hind legs, nor his ability to relieve himself.  We were lucky.  This time, however, was quite different.  My husband scooped up Apache, and we placed him on his bed, within the confines of a pen, to limit his mobility.  I ran around frantically, gathering keys and water, still stinky from my run, and prepared to drive him to the vet for emergency care.  The vet phoned the next morning, and told me that he had gone downhill, unable to relieve himself or lift his backside.  He had been on a constant drip of a narcotic pain medication, and this was not relieving his pain.  Apache was 11 years old, about to turn 12 in 2 days.  We couldn't bring ourselves to put him through another back surgery.  The vet agreed, surgery would probably be too traumatic for him at this point.  He had been plagued with arthritis in his front legs, and a host of other physical ailments. His body had gone through enough, and we needed to help end the suffering.  We decided to say goodbye to our best friend and put him to sleep.  I never, in a hundred years, would have ever thought I'd be a person who could end a companion animal's life.  The day had come, and we made the decision.  I was with him when he was put to sleep. He was wrapped in his favorite fuzzy blanket, upon my lap.    He lay there, whimpering in pain.  In a few moments, it was over, my beloved friend was gone.  

Apache was with us for 11 years.  He'd moved 3 times with us, welcomed two babies into the family, embraced another dachshund into the family, and a rabbit.  He loved us and protected us.  He gave endless kisses and loved to cuddle and chase his pink ball.  While much of his adult life was plagued with severe skin allergies and arthritic pain, he still managed to greet us with loving warmth at every turn.  The house is quiet now, the barks have gone.  We miss our best friend, but know he is now free of the body that brought him such pain.  His spirit is felt throughout our house, and he will be forever remembered and celebrated.  He taught each of us important lessons.  He showed me how to find joy in every situation.  Apache.  




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