I wanted to share some of my moments that I had with Littlehorse Vindicator JD, better known as Vinnie. Born July 1, 1997 and put to rest July 31, 1998. He didn't have a very long life, but the time that we had together is filled with lovely memories.
Vinnie was the last of his litter to be delivered. His mother, Cassie labored all night and into the day, past noon. She had her last puppy in the morning hours and I sensed that she wasn't finished. I had to rely on that as I have never been able to palpate to save my soul or anyone else's. However, this time was different. As I stood her up and laid my hands against her sides, I felt a very distinct kick.
Off to the vet we went. The doctors rushed mother back into x-ray and there was a large skeleton of a puppy way up inside.
I left Cassie with the vet and had to come back home to take care of the rest of the bunch. I know I must have driven them nuts with phone calls. I was so worried about Miss Cassie as I always bond with them during these times as we all do, but this was a first for her and she was frightened.
When they said they delivered a puppy that was alive, but barely, I was so excited I didn't even ask what color, sex, weight or anything. I ran down the hall of the clinic when a technician had a little bundle wrapped in a towel in her hands. I grabbed the bundle from her and what I saw within, took my breath away. There was the most beautiful male harlequin Great Dane puppy that I had ever laid eyes on. However, he was cold, he was blue, and he was gasping for breath. I was told they had to bring him back to life as he had been inside too long without oxygen.
As we were being driven home he was making these awful gurgling sounds. What came to my mind that this little fellow was going to get pneumonia if I wasn't careful.
He didn't. Even though his mother decided that since I wanted this litter, I could damn well care for them myself, they thrived. I would sit on the floor with them and take turns feeding each one. You should have seen the surprise on my face when the first one climbed into my lap at an age where his eyes were just barely open. It was Vinnie. And at that very moment, I fell in love.
6 weeksVinnie was everything that I could have ever dreamed of in a dog. He was funny. He was a talker. He was smart. And he was very loving. This is a picture of his pool party. He was just about 7 weeks old and when I came out I thought he had drown, but he was just asleep in the water bowl.
Like most Great Danes, he was a lap dog and while he was real young, loved the couch. Then he decided on his own that the floor was just dandy as he didn't like the feel of the couch when he stood up on it. Then when summer came, I couldn't even get him to come in the house anymore as the sound that the window unit air conditioner made, frightened him. He wasn't a spooky or shy dog by any means. Just a teenage Great Dane with strange moments.
Vinnie loved the water. Vinnie also had a wonderful sense of humor and would go to great links to make me laugh. Vinnie would also say "I love you" to me and you could make out what he was saying. At least my daughter Sandra said she could unless she was just humoring me. :-P
These two pictures were taken early in the summer when he decided that he wanted a mask like a fawn. He waited for me to come in and get the camera too. He was very much a ham. I guess you can tell.
I could tell you stories that would split your sides with laughter and stories that would make you say "aaaahhhhhhhhh". I don't want to take up that much of your time and I am really not a writer of stories, but more of a poet. Or think I am at any rate. I wish to recount Vinnie's last moments for you and to share the courage of this very fine boy.
It was just about noon on Friday the 31st of July and I was putting Vinnie out in the back yard when he just stopped in his tracks and had a glazed expression in his eyes. What happened next will stay with me for the rest of my days. His legs seemed to go stiff and he fell to one side and he was making a horrible gasping and choking sound. He was opening and closing his mouth and seemed to be gagging on his own tongue and I was absolutely helpless to do anything for him except to sit beside him on the ground and talk to him in soothing tones. It only lasted about 30 seconds, but to me it felt as if it lasted for an hour. He rested for a few moments, got up and started to wonder around the yard as if to try to get his bearings. I started hosing him off as I thought he had a heat stroke. He was back to his old self in a very few minutes, however, he was very tired. He lay down on the wet ground and I left him alone and came in and out of the house a multitude of times and even gave him bologna and cheese which he gobbled right down.
Whew! Or so I thought. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of the end for my boy.
My husband came home and I fixed him dinner and we sat down and ate. As soon as that was over and it had started to get cool enough to feed the dogs, I went out and wanted to move Vinnie into a pen by himself as he seemed so tired that I did not want his sister Winnie to bother him. As I made him go into the other pen, he seemed somewhat reluctant and I thought he was just being stubborn as usual and forced him inside. What happened next was a repeat of the convulsions that had shaken him early in the day. However, the severity of this one was ten times that of the first one. I screamed for my husband Bill and he could not believe his eyes. I knew that there was no way we could get him into a crate and into the truck as every time he was moved, they started again.
After speaking to several vets I knew what had to be done. The prognoses for cluster seizures was not a good one. Vinnie was going to leave us this very evening and I had to make that decision that would end his life, but still his pain and terror. The doctor was on his way, but in the meantime my dog and I were living a nightmare.
I could not stay with him as he wanted to be in my lap. Each time he would make the effort to get to me, he would be hit by those horrible convulsions. We both wanted to comfort each other. The last lucid thing he did before his poor brain betrayed him and he was no more the dog I knew and loved, was to stagger over to me as I was hanging onto the fence crying and begging and pleading with him not to leave me, was to look me in the eyes and take my finger gently in his mouth. Then he was gone. His pain took him into another dimension and he curled into a fetal position and didn't lift his head even when the vet came to release him from his pain racked body.
I did not even have to tell the vet the story of his birth, as he told me. Brain starved of oxygen at birth caused a scar which would manifest itself into the seizures brought on by the onset of maturity.
I had to write this to give some credence to his short life. To share, to let others know that terrible things happen that we have no control over. To bare my soul to others who have lost a loved one. Yes, I say loved one as if he were human. Because to me, Vinnie was my son, my sunshine, and my heart and I will miss him for the rest of my life and will always be looking for him.
Thank you my friends,
Melody S. Rainwater and the rest of Littlehorse
My mornings are loud with silence.
My ears strain to hear the music of your bark.
My nose, the smell of your coat.
My fingers itch to touch your velvet muzzle.
My eyes long for the sight of your magnificent beauty.
My heart is heavy with sadness as all my senses
tell me that you are gone.
I love you Vinnie.
August 1, 1998
A Sister's Tribute by Sandra RainwaterValiant young Prince of Littlehorse
Impressed we all were with your beauty
Never to be forgotten
Near in our hearts always
In time the pain will ease
Every day with you was a blessing, my 4 legged brother.
When God calls little puppies to dwell with Him above,
We humans always question the wisdom of His love.
For no heartache can compare with the loss of one small 'child',
Who does so much to make this world seem wonderful and mild.
Perhaps God tires - always calling the aged to His fold,
And so He picks a rosebud before it can grow old.
God knows how much we need them and so He picks but few;
To make the land of heaven more beautiful to view.
Believing this is difficult, yet somehow we must try,
For the saddest word that mankind knows will always be "good-bye".
And so when little pups depart; We, who are left behind,
must realize how much God loves puppies....
For angels are hard to find.