Blogger's note: I know three weeks is a long time to be away from the blog, but it was for good reason as we cared for Aspen in her final days.
We knew it was time. As Steve and I sat on the cold linoleum floor at the emergency vet clinic last Friday night, we knew. Three seizures in four days had rendered Aspen, our 15-year-old basenji, a shell of the dog she’d been only 72 hours before. The vet said she most likely had a tumor in her brain, even all over her body, as evidenced by the mass we’d had removed only two weeks before from her shoulder. As she drew her last breath, I held her in my arms and wept.
In 2002, when our breeder arrived with our only long-term foster dog, I couldn’t believe my eyes. At fourteen pounds, she was well underweight with a coarse coat of light orange. But when she met Wallace, our male basenji who was a year younger, they traded greeting sniffs and instantly began playing. Wallace had found his buddy, and Aspen had found a forever home. With a little bit of love, she flourished. She filled out to her normal weight of 21 pounds. And that coarse coat? It fell out, to be replaced by a soft coat of dark red fur.
As much love as we gave her, she freely returned in spades. Her yodels, a unique basenji sound, always filled the house at mealtime, as did the beat of her feet on the floor as she did her warm-up laps for eating and for her twice-daily walks. She was always by my side when I was home, and she knew a lot more about me than I want to admit.
Aspen loved to hunt. By the time her eyesight began fading, she’d already had three or four bunny kills plus a couple of birds. Let’s not forget the squirrel she busted that resulted in a trip to the vet for the nasties it left behind. And when she ran, it was like watching her run on air. She had this unique ability, at least until the last year or two of her life, to jump so effortlessly onto the bed or couch that it looked like she levitated.
Now, the house it too quiet. Wallace looks for her, tries to catch her scent. And since Wallace is a quiet guy, there are no more yodels in the house. I miss Aspen fiercely. Incredibly so. I know that with time, this ache will ease, but she will always reside in a special place in my heart.
Aspen, thank you for showing how loving and caring can bring out the best. Thank you for being such a faithful friend to the very end. Sweet girl, you are missed. Greatly so.
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