Friday, March 18, 2011
Augie: November 2, 1997-March 17, 2011
Owner Leslie Huttinger wrote this bio of Augie, of whom she said, "He came to live with me on Dec. 30, 1997, and graced my life for almost 13 ½ years."
Augie was diagnosed with DM at about age 12. His vet thought it was arthritis when I first started noticing some problems. This went on for some time. He began to trip a lot and have trouble going up stairs. As it seemed to get to be more noticeable to me that something was wrong I found the Corgi list and Kathleen Mallery told me about the wheel corgi list. The vet did a blood draw that was sent off for DM testing and came back at risk. Before Augie our vet didn't know much about DM and since has done some research and even made Augie her Pet of the Month in one of her newsletters. She included an article about DM to go with it. Augie posed in his wheel cart to be in the newsletter.
At that time Augie was just hanging out with me and being my shadow buddy. He lived with DM at least a year and a half, probably longer since it took a while to figure out what was wrong with him. I would think it's possible it started when he was 11, the tripping and stumbling went on for some time before it became noticeable something besides arthritis going on.
We got him a Eddie's Wheels so he could keep up with walks. About 5 or 6 months ago we had to start using a belly band as he was incontinent. We were lucky we had bought a house that already had a wheel chair ramp, it made is much easier for him as he got worse. In the end coming back up the ramp was a struggle.
The last month or so he started having trouble breathing. Panting even just sitting still. He would often tremble for no reason we could see. The vet gave us some Valium to give him thinking it was nerves but I don't think that was it. I have no idea really. He would sit in front of me and just stare at me, trembling and panting. This was getting to be more and more what he would do every day. I started to notice a look in his eyes, sadness, frustration, I just knew he wasn't happy. Just more recently one of his front legs was starting to appear weak and he didn't seem to want to move much. Like it was getting to be too much effort for him. Just in the last few weeks he started to be incontinent of feces once in a while. I know it bothered him; he was ashamed. He would avoid looking at me until I cleaned it up and gave him a belly rub so he would know it was okay. My husband took him to the vet this (St. Patrick's Day) morning and taking everything going into consideration it seemed the kindest thing to do at this point was to have him put down peacefully. Augie had won the hearts of everyone at his vet's office and even some of the staff was crying when he passed. This being St. Patrick's day it seems fitting that he left on a special day and it's a day I will always remember in a more somber way.
It (Augie's DM) has been breaking my heart piece by piece over the last year or more. Watching him slowly change from the fun loving dog he had always been to this misery. Watching him try to run when he couldn't anymore. It is a horrible disease. DM robbed him and me. He was my best friend, confident, made my life richer, motivated me to fight through my own health problems so I would always be here to take care of him. We were always glued to each other. In the 13 1/2 years he graced my life we were only apart 7 days when I had surgery in 2001. Since I was retired the whole time I had him, we were together 24/7; we did everything together. He'd lie in the garden next to me when I was doing yard work; what ever I was doing he wanted to be a part of it. He loved people, he loved riding in the cart at Home Depot and having everyone pet him and tell him how cute he was. He didn't have much interest in other dogs; he loved humans best. So many things he loved that were no longer possible for him to enjoy.
As my cancer has gotten worse it has been a struggle for me too. There were days I was too sick to do much more than feed him, clean up some pee and poo and pat him on the head before heading back to my bed. Then I would feel guilty and sad that I couldn't give him the attention I knew he wanted. It was getting harder for both of us. As I was going down hill so was he. My family has thought for a long time I should put him down because of my health problems but I couldn't do it for that. We were in it together for better or worse. I was able to let him go because of his discomfort, it couldn't be about just me. And I always knew it would end up being for him because I would have struggled for as long as I could physically do it.
He loved his family, cookies, going out in the car with me and belly rubs. He loved to show off the tricks he could do like play dead, speak, etc. He was a bit of a ham. He had a very gentle spirit and was a very sensitive guy. He would find things to do that he thought was funny. When we had a shower bathtub combination he would run around the house and gather his toys one by one and throw them in the tub while I showered. Don't know if he thought I should wash them or he just thought it was a amusing thing to do. Till the day he died he always needed to accompany to the bathroom when I showered, maybe he was afraid I'd drown and he had to be there to save me. Augie had his own little bathroom in the back yard and he usually got a cookie when he came back in. More than a few times he would run out to his bathroom and just pretend he did his business and come running back in fast as a race horse, where's my cookie. I would say hey you faked it and he would make a quick u-turn and run back to really potty. It was funny, who would out smart who. Even as a puppy I would try to get him to sleep on the bed with me. It never worked out because as soon as I would move he would get up in a huff and stomp off, like lady how do you expect me to get any sleep if your going to keep moving. Whenever my husband or I would come in the house he would run and get his bone and give it to us. It was like here is a little gift for you since you managed to find your way back home. He was so sweet and funny, made my life richer and I hope I did the same for him. He was just a true treasure.