Ralphie 927

May 30th, 2013 4:57 pm by Kelly Garbato

Now that May 2013 – otherwise known as the worst month of my life – is finally drawing to a close, I suppose it’s time to stop hiding – in alcohol (strawberry daiquiris), food (peanut chews and Daiya & french fry soup), and sitcoms (Modern Family) – and work through the traumatic events of the past month. I have a number of projects planned – to help me process what happened, I guess, and remember both the good and the bad: journaling, photo albums, collages. Tributes in words and images. My mind’s still a little fuzzy – as in, the consistency of a jellyfish – but that’s why I’ve decided to start out small, with photos.

First up: sorting, editing, and uploading the nearly 1300 photos (give or take) Shane and I shot this month. Most of these are of Ralphie,* whose death we had the privilege of planning. And that’s genuine gratitude, not sarcasm, that you hear in my voice: just twelve days later, Kaylee’s end came unexpectedly and with little of the fanfare Ralphie received. My baby girl slipped away in the night without me even knowing it.

I’ll write more – much more – about Ralphie and Kaylee later. In fact, a long, rambling blog post is one of the final steps, I think, before I’ll be able to let go – of the nightmare that was May, of Ralphie and Kaylee – not to mention their bodies, which are currently stacked one one top of the other** in our laundry room chest freezer. We plan to have them cremated, eventually, but I’m not quite ready yet. As perverse as it is, there’s something comforting about having them nearby – even if I dare not touch or even look at their cold, frozen corpses. They’re not here – the things that made them the unique and special creatures I so loved have long since departed – and yet I can still pretend.

For today, I have a selection of my favorite photos from Ralphie’s last week. They looked prettier as photosets on tumblr, but I tried to dress them up as best I could. I wasn’t particularly judicious in paring down photos, so (warning!) the post might take a little time to load.

Next up: Kaylee’s folder, which is painfully slim compared to her older brother’s. I wish we’d been able to give her the same, (semi-) joyful sendoff Ralphie had.

 

* 927 refers to the number of pictures we took during Ralphie’s last three days with us. Ridiculous right?

** How awful is that?


 
——————————
4/30/13 – Ralphie

This was taken when Ralphie first became ill, but before we knew it was the big bad. (For the first few days, we mistook it for a simple tummy ache.) I had just applied their flea and tick treatment – hence the spiky line of fur down his back – and we were all gathered outside on the blanket, sunbathing and (in my case) reading. Ralphie lasted a good hour or two before going back in the house, which was unusual – in his later years he only wanted to be outdoors when he had business there (walking, digging, hunting critters).

Oh, to have those days back…
——————————

2013-04-30 - Ralphie - 0003

2013-04-30 - Ralphie - 0019

 
——————————
5/4/13 – The Grumpy Patient

When Ralphie still wasn’t feeling well come Thursday, we took him back to our regular vet, who did some blood work and promptly referred us to the specialists at BluePearl in North Kansas City, a good 45 minutes away. His phosphorus and creatinine levels indicated that he was in renal failure. He ended up being hospitalized for four days, where the doctors tried to flush out his kidneys with fluids. Naturally we visited every day, sometimes for hours at a time. The staff was pretty chill about that. We only took pictures on this one occasion, though, on accounta we were convinced right up until the end that he’d be fine.
Ralphie is always fine, dammit.

Unfortunately, and even under their care, his kidney function continued to deteriorate, and on Monday we were advised to bring him home to die. We scheduled an in-home euthanasia for Thursday and tried to give our little bugger the best 76 hours of his life.
——————————

2013-05-04 - The Grumpy Patient - 0003

2013-05-04 - The Grumpy Patient - 0017


——————————
5/6/13 – Ralphie, Shane & Finnick

Back at home, Finnick does not understand all this special treatment that the
weird, red, devil-tailed dog is receiving.
——————————

2013-05-06 - Ralphie, Shane & Finnick - 0005

 
——————————
5/6/13 – Ralphie & O-Ren

Taken shortly after bringing Ralphie home from the hospital.
One of the last photos I have of these two together. :(
——————————

2013-05-06 - Ralphie & O-Ren - 0004

 
——————————
5/6/13 – Jealousy

O-Ren, Mags, and Finnick watching Ralphie chow down from the wrong side of the door.
Kaylee and Jayne were able to stay in the office with us because they’re (gasp!)
considerate about not stealing a sick old dog’s food.
——————————

2013-05-06 -  Jealousy -   0001

2013-05-06 -  Jealousy -   0008

 
——————————
5/6/13 – Full & Sleepy

One of the perks of having just a few days left on this mortal coil:
you get to eat whatever you want.
——————————

2013-05-06 - Full & Sleepy - 0005

 
——————————
5/6/13 – Kelly & Ralphie Relaxing
——————————

2013-05-06 - Kelly & Ralphie Relaxing - 0001

Ralphie snuggles!

2013-05-06 - Shane & Ralphie Relaxing - 0005

I just love it when he crosses his fat little legs like this.

2013-05-06 - Shane & Ralphie Relaxing - 0006

Stretch that bobblehead neck.

 
——————————
5/6/13 – Digging in the Front Yard

After a hearty lunch we took Ralphie into the front yard so he could stretch his legs. Also: his neck and back and all those other doxie parts used for digging up his peoples’ lawn. He was still awfully tired from his ordeal at the hospital (“How could you leave me here!?”), so he only kept it up for a half hour, but rest assured that there was quite a bit of sniffing and huffing and investigating.

I don’t think I’ll ever fill those holes in. They can stay, like the ones in my heart.
——————————

2013-05-06 - Digging in the Front Yard - 0005

Guess what? Ralphie butt!

2013-05-06 - Digging in the Front Yard - 0006

 
——————————
5/6/13 – Ralphie (& O-Ren), Redux

Spreading the dirt around, post-dig.
——————————

2013-05-06 - Ralphie & O-Ren, Redux - 0007

 
——————————
5/6/13 – A Walk in the Park

After dinner Ralphie, Shane, and I spent a good hour at the park, where he started off slowly (as in, on the blanket) but eventually did a full lap of Ralphie-style galloping.
——————————

2013-05-06 - A Walk in the Park - 0010

2013-05-06 - A Walk in the Park - 0011

2013-05-06 - A Walk in the Park - 0021

2013-05-06 - A Walk in the Park - 0031

2013-05-06 - A Walk in the Park - 0040

2013-05-06 - A Walk in the Park - 0041

 
——————————
5/6/13 – Long Day

And now it’s bedtime!
——————————

2013-05-06 - Long Day - 0003

 
——————————
5/7/13 – An Afternoon at the Park

The weather held, so we spent an hour or two at the park. We started out in a baseball diamond, where we tried to walk Ralphie off-leash, but he wasn’t really into it. Instead we wandered down to the back soccer fields, where we spread out a blanket and Ralphie ran circles around the nets. He and Rennie used to like digging there, but I guess the moles weren’t biting today.
——————————

2013-05-07 - An Afternoon at the Park - 0007 [cropped]

He’s still got it!

2013-05-07 - An Afternoon at the Park - 0019

2013-05-07 - An Afternoon at the Park - 0022

2013-05-07 - An Afternoon at the Park - 0029

2013-05-07 - An Afternoon at the Park - 0038

Whispering sweet nothings.

2013-05-07 - An Afternoon at the Park - 0047

2013-05-07 - An Afternoon at the Park - 0053

EARS!

(On the previous evening’s walk, I found a hawk feather, which I saved and added to my vase of peacock plumage. Coupled with Ralphie’s ginormous, floppy ears, it reminded me of Dumbo and his “magic” feather. I had to explain the story to Shane; he’d never heard it.
I KNOW WEIRD RIGHT.)

 
——————————
5/7/13 – Last Trip Around the Pond

In the evening we took Ralphie to the back field to dig (it’s his latest favorite area), but he didn’t have the energy, so we took a stroll around the pond instead. He had fun investigating the muskrat holes, then cooled off in the water and wiped his muddy paws off on our blanket. So inconsiderate – that’s my boy!
——————————

2013-05-07 - Last Trip Around the Pond - 0004

Such a tiny little body!

2013-05-07 - Last Trip Around the Pond - 0013

Critter tunnels!

2013-05-07 - Last Trip Around the Pond - 0016

Slurp!

2013-05-07 - Last Trip Around the Pond - 0021

Shhhhh! Recording in progress.

2013-05-07 - Last Trip Around the Pond - 0028

Muddy paws! On several occasions, Ralphie’s gotten so covered in mud that he resembled a seal caught in an oil slick.

2013-05-07 - Last Trip Around the Pond - 0037

2013-05-07 - Last Trip Around the Pond - 0047

Entranced by the pond sounds.

2013-05-07 - Last Trip Around the Pond - 0056

2013-05-07 - Last Trip Around the Pond - 0058

Ralphie kisses! (Are very, very sloppy.)

 
——————————
5/8/13 – A Morning at the Park

On Ralphie’s last full day with us, we woke up early-ish to beat the rain. As it turned out, it rained first thing in the morning and then was clear for the rest of the day – yay! So around ten we headed to the park for a short stroll. Ralphie got tired much more quickly, so we ended up sitting around by the playground and taking photos. He didn’t seem to mind – there was a nice breeze and some sun and of course mom and dad’s devoted attention.
——————————

2013-05-08 - A Morning at the Park - 0005

These poles are one of the dogs’ favorite spots to mark. I wonder who he smells?

2013-05-08 - A Morning at the Park - 0021

2013-05-08 - A Morning at the Park - 0023

“Dumbo! C’mon, fly! Open them ears! The magic feather was just a gag! You can fly! Honest, you can!”

2013-05-08 - A Morning at the Park - 0028

2013-05-08 - A Morning at the Park - 0030 [cropped]

My guy.

2013-05-08 - A Morning at the Park - 0034

2013-05-08 - A Morning at the Park - 0052

“Are you there Dog? It’s me, Margaret.”

2013-05-08 - A Morning at the Park - 0054

2013-05-08 - A Morning at the Park - 0060

2013-05-08 - A Morning at the Park - 0071

 
——————————
5/8/13 – A Picnic Under the Maple Tree

In the afternoon, we strolled around the yard a bit – but not too much; Ralphie was pretty beat – and then spread a blanket out under the maple tree for a picnic. Ralphie ate, we oohed and ahhed and sometimes whaaed. We fed him some of his favorite foods – dried pineapples and homemade fruit leather – as well as some gross meaty stuff he’d acquired a taste for at the hospital.
(Gerber meat sticks – I felt weird giving these to a dog, let alone a child!)

In retrospect we probably could have made do without Alpo prime cuts and beef broth, but my mind wasn’t functioning well enough to think of alternatives to the list provided by our vet. (I did much better with Kaylee, the whole lotta good that did me.)

All in all it was a lovely – if painfully bittersweet – afternoon. Gonna have to make a habit of doing this with the dogs when they’re perfectly healthy, too.
——————————

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0005

Wandering through the garden.

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0008

He has no idea where he’s going.

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0012

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0024

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0025

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0027

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0055

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0064

Ralphie parts! (Are the best kind of parts, in point o’ facts.)

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0067

Giving my guy a shoulder massage.

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0074

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0077

Napping on my legs. No wonder my feet are forever falling asleep.

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0080

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0089

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0096

Chowing down on homemade fruit leather, one of his favorite treats.
Witness his Fruit Leather Face in frame-by-frame action.

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0099

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0100

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0109

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0110

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0116

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0121

I just love this one, I don’t know why.

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0144

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0153

2013-05-08 - A Picnic Under the Maple Tree - 0162

 
——————————
5/8/13 – Couch Potatoes

Finnick is still not amused by all the extra attention daddy is giving Ralphie.
——————————

2013-05-08 - Couch Potatoes - 0003

 
——————————
5/8/13 – Shane & Ralphie

Took this during one of the evening’s bathroom breaks.
Ralphie was super-tired so we tried to be brief.
——————————

2013-05-08 - Shane & Ralphie - 0004

 
——————————
5/8/13 – Sleepy Ralphie

Curled up into a little bean after a(nother) long day.
——————————

2013-05-08 - Sleepy Ralphie - 0004

 
——————————
5/8/13 – Ralphie’s Last Night

After Ralphie came home from the hospital, we made most of the other dogs sleep in the living room so that Ralphie could have Shane and I all to himself. Also, so no one would be all up in a sick old dog’s space. (It went over like gangbusters. The first two mornings, I woke up to loose piles of poo all over the living room floor.) Kaylee was the exception, since she’s no trouble at night – she keeps to herself and barely changes position.

In retrospect, I’m so relieved I let her, since it turns out that she was a sick old dog too. :(
——————————

2013-05-08 - Ralphie's Last Night - 0033

 
——————————
5/9/13 – Ralphie’s Last Trip to the Park

On the morning of May 9th – my birthday, incidentally (I’m not quite sure I’ll ever want to celebrate it again) – we took Ralphie to the park one last time. He wasn’t really up to walking – the kidney-related fatigue we’d been dreading seemed finally to be kicking in – so we sat in the playground fort and snuggled instead. The day was warm but breezy, and Ralphie really took it in: pointing his face into the wind, he let the wind wash over his snout and lift his ears, Dumbo style. Cue: contented doggy smiles.

Shane and I hugged him and shared stories, memories, recollections we’ll always keep with us. I told Ralphie how much I love him – over and over again – and listed all the things I’d miss. So, so many things: oversized ears, paws like paddles, silly woofs, the Ralphie trot, holes in the yard, fur so red it glows, pointy elbows, nails like claws, dream running, chest sitting, smothering kisses, superhairs, rawhide hoarding, underwear stealing. Ralphie and his Shadow. Ralphie and Peedee and Rennie. The first three.

If it hadn’t have been for my cursedly small bladder, Shane might have had to drag me away. Returning home – back to reality – was the last thing I wanted to do that morning. I wish I could live this morning – or a happier version of it, in any case – forever.
——————————

2013-05-09 - Ralphie's Last Trip to the Park - 0014

2013-05-09 - Ralphie's Last Trip to the Park - 0022

Tracey: When you can’t run, you crawl, and when you can’t crawl –
when you can’t do that…
Zoƫ: You find someone to carry you.
Firefly, “The Message”

2013-05-09 - Snugglefest in the Fort - 0031

2013-05-09 - Snugglefest in the Fort - 0034

2013-05-09 - Snugglefest in the Fort - 0044

2013-05-09 - Snugglefest in the Fort - 0062 [square]

Putting on a brave face for my little guy.
I tried to save as many of my tears as I could for later.

2013-05-09 - Snugglefest in the Fort - 0074

2013-05-09 - Snugglefest in the Fort - 0102

I love that Ralphie was all smiles, right up to the end.
I’m glad we could give him that at least.

 
——————————
5/9/13 – Shane, Ralphie & Finnick

By this time, Finnick was feeling so starved for daddy’s attention that he literally
draped himself on Shane’s back to get a little contact.
——————————

2013-05-09 - Shane, Ralphie & Finnick - 0004

 
——————————
5/9/13 – Kelly & Ralphie

Chilling on the couch after lunch. Preparing myself to head outside and
wait for our fateful 4PM appointment.

Saying goodbye is never easy, even when the choice is this black and white.

(That Wegmans tee I’m wearing? It’s now officially my euthanasia gear. I just happened to wear it on Ozzy’s day; chose to wear it for Ralphie, since it seemed appropriate – I adopted him when I was still working there, and my overnight shifts meant slumber parties for Ralphie at my parents’ house with his BFF Shadow; and continued the trend with Kaylee.
Morbid, who me?)
——————————

2013-05-09 - Kelly & Ralphie on the Couch - 0005

 
——————————
5/9/13 – Waiting for the Vet to Arrive

A few hours before our 4 o’clock appointment, we headed out to the front yard for one last afternoon under the maple tree. Ralphie was considerably more tired than he’d been the past few days, so we mostly lay in the sun and snuggled.

The vet ended up arriving about a half hour late – a turn of events that proved both good and bad; good because it gave us more time with the Ralphster, and bad because my stomach was a mess of painful anticipatory knots – and our little man returned to the stars on 4:57PM CDT, May 9, 2013. He was one day shy of 15 years, 7 months old.
——————————

2013-05-09 - Waiting for the Vet to Arrive - 0006

2013-05-09 - Waiting for the Vet to Arrive - 0023

2013-05-09 - Waiting for the Vet to Arrive - 0027

2013-05-09 - Waiting for the Vet to Arrive - 0049

 
——————————
5/9/13, 3:30PM – last one

This is the last photo we ever took of Ralphie,
a little more than an hour before his passing.
I’ll hold it in my heart, always and forever.
——————————

2013-05-09 - Waiting for the Vet to Arrive - 0060

——————————

“We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.”

“I have…a terrible need…shall I say the word?…of religion.
Then I go out at night and paint the stars.”

“The nitrogen in our DNA,
The calcium in our teeth,
The iron in our blood,
The carbon in our apple pies
Were made in the interiors
Of collapsing stars.
We are made of starstuff.”

– Carl Sagan

——————————

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed under , , , ,

2 Responses to “Ralphie 927”

  1. Saying Goodbye (The Ralphie and Kaylee Post) » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] I won’t rehash all the details, but that’s only because I already wrote that post. […]

  2. VeganMoFo VII: Vegan A to Z! » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    […] due to lack of time and energy. (Regular readers might remember that I lost my two eldest dogs, Ralphie and Kaylee, back in May – a mere twelve days apart. Not to be a bummer, but I’m still […]

Leave a Reply