Sunday, July 13, 2014

The life and times of our darling Geri

Little Geri came into my life in August 1998. The cutest little bundle of fun. An 8 week old collie cross Beagle.  We had lost our previous dog Teo a couple of months before, and we were desperately missing a dog in our house hold.

We had looked at a few rescue centres as it is where I personally prefer to obtain pets from.  We found a wonderful place near East Grinstead in the UK called Last Chance Animal Rescue, and we were actually toying between a huge English Mastiff or an 8 week old puppy. In the end the puppy had us.  I remember the day we brought her home so vividly. My dear mum had suffered a stroke about 18 months previously, and would often have mini strokes, always at such inconvenient times too!  This day was one of them.  I remember her sitting down on a chair and her face changing as I was looking at her.  I went into slight panic mode and the lovely people at the rescue centre dialled 999. Within minutes an ambulance arrived and the paramedics gave mum a good check over, but it was a slight mini stroke or TIA (transient ischaemic attack) Luckily within a matter of about half an hour she was already starting to feel better.  My dear mum loved a trawl around second hand shops,  and one time she had a TIA in the Heart Foundation Shop. Another ambulance!  Honestly what some people will do for a bit of attention!

So we brought little Geri home and oh boy was she hard work.  I'd never had a puppy before, and she would chase us around, nibbling at our heels. She probably thought she was rounding us up, or she was at least trying to. She developed eventually however into a beautiful dog, in every sense of the word.  When we moved from our house in Brighton, after we lost my mum, to Peacehaven she had regular walks to the park which was only two minutes away, and to the beach, which also was just a few minutes away.  We had 10 great years there.  It was a wonderful family home with great Christmasses, one of which Geri ate a large box of chocolates plus most of it's wrapper's that had been left under the tree. Another time my son was trying to stop smoking and Geri ate multiple packets of nicotinell chewing gum.  Luckily for us Mark's gf at the time worked in a pharmacy and insisted we telephone our vet as she was concerned it maybe poisonous to her. Good job we did, they insisted we brought her straight in and she had to stay in overnight.  They believed her heart would speed up, and then slow down to an alarming rate, and possibly stop.  They wanted to put her on a drip to try and control her heart for the night. The following day we brought her home, having been told she had enough nicotine in her to have killed her 10 times over... tough cookie, somehow she got through it!   I'm actually smiling whilst I'm typing this as I remember one day Geri came across a  partly decomposed seagull, and picked it up and carried it proudly along the seafront promenade.  It's wingspan seemed huge and were sticking out horizontally, held together by  a part of a skeleton.  I chased her to try and get her to drop it, but no way.  It was her prize possession she was so proud, I was so embarrassed!

Geri at home in Peacehaven 

The years passed by and my children were growing up fast.  When Geri was 10 years old, we made the decision to move here to Spain.  Geri had her jabs and her passport photo taken, and we were ready for the off.  Crikey did she cry when we left her at Gatwick to go into the hold.  I hated thinking about where she would be.  Would it be freezing cold? Noisy?  Would she be with the luggage?  I had no idea.  She was a terrible traveller at the best of times, and would cry continuously for the duration of any car journey.  We knew that a couple of hours on a plane would be easier than a couple of days driving.

Geri's life here in Spain was basically a lovely outdoors lifestyle.  We had a large area that she could simply live outside as much as she wanted.  As the years went on she developed arthritis, but I'm sure it would have been so much worse if we had been still living in the UK.  When we had our alpacas join us here, she enjoyed spending time with them, although she was understandably nervous at first.  Then arrived her best mate in the world, Carlos.

Carlos's first day

Carlos I found in the bushes outside our house one day, just a few months after we arrived.  Carlos and Geri got on like a house on fire. He was, and still is such a gentle soul. Then came along Arthur and Blue the mastins. At about 12 weeks old they were huge bundles of energy, that Geri would try and control but she was still the leader of the pack. Next came little Miliko, again another puppy with endless energy.  It was getting a bit too much now and Geri would watch from afar, and have a snooze unless she would feel she needed to let us know the pups were getting out of hand.

Geri's trying to be in control

With our little Miliko

The year after we arrived here, my son and his gf came for a visit.  Geri was so incredibly excited to see him, she ran around the small courtyard at top speed, then charged up a flight of stairs then suddenly yelped in pain. We immediately knew she had done something major.  She had, she had completely torn her cruciate ligament.  I was so upset when I realised she needed an operation.  The operation was done at a vetirinary surgery in Cordoba where she had excellent treatment.  Alan then spent a chilly April helping her rehabiltate in our swimming pool.

Last visit to the vet after her operation

Sadly a couple of years later, Geri suffered a cruciate ligament problem on the other leg. We think she just knocked over by one of the other dogs. This was not so bad, probably some fibres were torn, but we decided not to put her through the operation this time. She was fine, just a little slower than usual.  Having said that she would sometimes run for her dinner as fast as the others would!

Our lives were plodding along all very nicely when suddenly a couple of months ago Geri had a bit of a mishap.  I did a blog post about it.  If you need a little reminder click here......

We were well aware that Geri approaching her 16th birthday was very frail now.  She was extremely short sighted due to cataracts and totally deaf.  Although she would some how spot Miliko running around like a crazy thing if we passed through the old wooden gates into the part the little dogs lived, by our apartment (We had kept the mastins seperate for a while in case Geri got bowled over, which would occasionally happen)  To be honest when Geri had this last accident we knew the end wouldn't be to far away.  We made her as comfortable as we possibly could. She had her own sofa with the cushions taken off so she could get on and off without too much fuss.  Every morning we would wake up and she was alive, would be a bonus. Whoever was up first out of Alan and I would stroke her gently to wake her gradually, pop to the bathroom, which would give her a few minutes to come to.  She then had to be supported whilst getting off the sofa. Having said that sometimes she would be up herself, and often we would hear her up and down all night long.  Her little claws pitter pattering on the tiles as she would wander around the living room.

Last Thursday became a nightmare day for us. When we came back from a hospital check up from me, I went to check on her and she was lying on her side in the sun. Luckily it wasn’t too hot! She was trying to get up but couldn’t.  She seemed to have a problem with a front leg! We carried her in and gave her an anti-inflammatory pill, some food and water and let her sleep.  At first her breathing was very hard and fast, and to be honest I thought her heart may just have stopped at any time.  Unfortunately I had an appointment for a CT scan, that same evening, but Geri was sleeping soundly having had the pill.  We did discuss Alan staying with her, but in the end he didn't, and luckily she stayed sleeping soundly until we got back.  During the night we put cushions beside her sofa in case she tried to get up, and she was up a few times in the night. Part of the time we let her sleep on the floor, on her side where she seemed to be the most comfy. Or we would lift her back onto her sofa after we have helped her have a little toddle.

Alan emailed our vet Andres on the Thursday evening and we told him what had happened. He suggested we bring her in the following morning  for an anti-inflammatory injection.  I was very nervous of what may happen when we took her.  Deep down I thought he would say it was just a slight injury to the front leg, suggest giving her the injection and she would be ok for another few months.  There was the real worry however he would say it was indeed something major.

The devastating news was that her front leg, that we could see was injured, her shoulder was broken, and possibly dislocated too.  Andres explained we could take her to Cordoba to the vet that did her cruciate ligament operation for an x-ray and second opinion if we wished. They could operate on her, but to be honest at 16 she would probably never get through it.  Her back legs with her age were so brittle they would never stand up to having all the extra weight on them. Andres did not try and lead us one way or the other, leaving it completely up to us, but we knew she had no quality of life.  If she wanted to go anywhere we had to carry her.  What a difference a day makes!  Andres gave Geri an anti-inflammatory injection, plus he gave us 2 injections for her, for Saurday and Sunday too.  We told him we would like to take her home for the weekend and discuss things. Really what we wanted to do was hold her and cuddle her over the weekend, before making that awful desicion.  A decision I had never had to make before. When we stepped outside of the door I said to Alan, maybe we should go back and do it now.  Alan said "No, let's take her and and give her a lovely weekend at home!"  

We hoped after Geri had her anti-inflammatory injection, she would at least have a good night. Alan and I however were both up numerous times in the night.  Every movement had us leaping out of the bed to check on her. Sometimes she wanted to get up and we would have to support her tummy, as she would try desperately hard to walk.  We realised of course that she would not be feeling much pain but the broken / dislocated shoulder was not going to heal with an anti-inflammatory injection.  She was still totally unable to walk without us totally supporting her.  Alan and I understood that waiting until after the weekend was not being fair to her.  So on the Friday night we emailed Andres, and asked if he would come to our house on the Saturday morning.  Andres replied by saying "He respected our decision" and Alan was to pick him up at 9am!

Geri and I spent the time sitting on the floor together whilst Alan went to get him, and I put her on the sofa when he arrived.  The whole procedure was so kind and gentle. I've never seen it done before but I won't go into the details in case people find it upsetting, but it was over within about a minute, whilst I sat on the sofa with Geri holding her head in my hands.  Andres kept saying how sorry he was, and when the 'procedure' was finished he said "She's sleeping now" and stroked her tenderly. He continued by saying, how all we want to do is to give our pets a lovely life with us, and when they are in pain or discomfort it is good that we can help them too.  

Geri and I spent an hour together on the sofa, whilst Alan took Andres home.  It was very strange, I kept expecting to see her breathing.  Like when you look at them occasionally and they apear to stop breathing, and then they take a deep breath. Actually elderly sleeping relatives tend to do the same! Having lost alpaca cria and know how bereft the mums can become, we decided to bring Miliko and Carlos in to see Geri.  We didn't worry about Arthur and Blue as they hadn't seen her for a few weeks. The both suprised us in their own way.  Miliko is usually like a whirl wind, we lifted him onto the sofa and he extremely gently sniffed all around her head and face, very loving.  Carlos was another matter. When we lifted him up, he wouldn't look at Geri, he turned his head and he looked the other way.  We are not sure if he understood or not, but he didn't want to be there, or to see Geri like that.

One week on and we have had a busy week.  Which I'm sure was a good thing.  Alan and I have shared many cuddles (Sorry Alan ) and I have shed many tears. Arthur and Blue spend most of the day and night sleeping... nothing different there, especially this time of the year.  Little Miliko seems to have a new liking for baby bats, and seems to always have one in his mouth at the moment, bless him, and bless the poor baby bats.  Carlos is very sad, every time we walk passed him we are aware of giving him extra cuddles and more of our time.  He's been indoors this afternoon for a siesta, Miliko got thrown out as he tried to bring his bat in, but Carlos has broken into our bedroom and was curled up on our bed.  Hopefully he will be ok in a few days time.  And Geri, well she's been laid to rest inbetween two lovely olive trees.  I know that was a difficult job for Alan.

Thank you for 16 wonderful years Geri.


Tanya said...

Bless both you and Alan. I understand your loss. What a wonderful tribute to your lovely dog

Lorna Penfold said...

Thank you Tanya xx