When I was a kid, I collected dogs, not actual dogs but small porcelain dog figurines. I always loved dogs. But it wasn’t until 2011 I got my first dog, and that was Rookie.
I was looking online for a poodle when I found Rookie back in September of 2011. His name was Collin. He was one year old, and he was at the San Pedro Shelter. He had been at the shelter for almost six months. I couldn’t believe it when I saw him that he had been there for so long because Rookie was so handsome, intelligent, and kind. I was surprised that he hadn’t been adopted yet, but I always tell everyone that he was waiting for me to come and get him.
Rookie and I became best buddies right away. He, unfortunately, passed away on August 6, 2020, just10 years old.
At the end of 2018, I took him to the vet for his annual check-up. The vet heard a heart murmur and recommended I took him to a heart specialist. I did, and they told me it wasn’t bad; he had stage 2 heart murmur.
He recommended I keep doing the one-year check-ups, and he needed no medicine at the time. Bella, one of my other dogs, had a heart murmur as well; when I found out that she had it, it was stage 4, and she lived for another 4 years, so I wasn’t too worried about Rookie’s heart murmur as it was only at stage 2.
A heart murmur is an abnormal heart sound heard when listening to the heart with a stethoscope. It is caused by abnormal turbulent blood flow. Abnormal turbulent blood flow can occur when blood passes across abnormal heart valves or abnormal structures within the heart. It can also occur when blood flows very fast across normal structures (such as when an animal is excited). An echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) is a non-invasive test performed to determine the cause of the murmur. Your veterinarian will grade the heart murmur out of 6, with 6/6 being the loudest murmur. In some instances, the louder the murmur, the more significant the abnormality within the heart.
In January 2020, Rookie got very sick and had a hard time breathing, so I took him to the emergency room. They took him in right away, and he had to stay there for 2 days. They did many tests and told me that he had a 5/6 heart murmur and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. That’s when your dog’s heart has trouble pumping blood to the rest of its body. I was told he only had 6 months to live. In just 14 months, his murmur had gone from 2 to 5/6. I was devastated.
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a term that refers to the heart’s inability to pump adequate blood to the body. The most common clinical sign of congestive heart failure (CHF) is persistent coughing accompanied by difficulty breathing. This is due mainly to pulmonary edema or the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. The enlarged heart will also push against the trachea, causing irritation that can induce a cough.“The most common clinical sign of congestive heart failure is persistent coughing accompanied by difficulty breathing.”Many dogs with CHF will tire out more easily, have reduced stamina, and do not engage in playing or walking as they once did. Coughing when at rest or sleeping, excessive panting, persistent loss of appetite, a swollen belly, and pale or bluish gums are also signs associated with heart failure. The dog will develop generalized weight loss and muscle wasting due to the effects of CHF on other body systems.
Rookie, This morning you collapsed on the floor. I lifted you up and carried you in my arms to the couch, and we laid there together.
I hugged you tight, breathed along with you, and I kept on whispering, “I love you so much, Rookie. You can go now. It’s okay, I’ll be okay.”
But I lied. At that moment, I just wanted all your pain to go away. I didn’t want to see you struggle just for me. It would be selfish of me to make you stay.
I wanted to tell you that I’m still hoping for a miracle. Please don’t leave me because I will miss you so much if you go. Please stay because I don’t know if I’m strong enough to handle this alone. But all that I did was cry. I hugged you even tighter. I held you in my arms,
…until your very last breath.
Thank you for everything, my little boy.
I miss you so much.
Love always, me
August 6, 2020
If Rookie could hear me now, I would tell him; I love you more than you will ever know. Well, maybe you do know, as I hugged and kissed you more than 20 times a day when you were here with me. Even when I only left for a few minutes, you never failed to get excited to see me again. You made me feel special, and I knew that you loved me as well. All of my friends, even Facebook and IG followers, know just how much I adored you. My phone is full of pictures of you. You were my best friend and number one fan.
We had so much fun together; you traveled with me to Canada and all over the states. You loved going for car rides. You loved going for hikes, walks, and to the beach. You loved exploring with me. You were always right by my side. We did everything together, you and me. But you were good when I had to leave for a few hours as well. We were always doing stuff and walking 2–5 miles a day, so when I left you alone, I think you enjoyed it as you could finally sleep then. You would be exactly where I left you, either on your favorite chair in the living room or on our bed in the bedroom.
You were indeed the perfect dog, Rookie. You had the best personality. So kind to everyone you met, and you always knew when I needed you to stay right by my side. I hope you know how much I appreciated you. You were there for it all, and I can only thank you for spending every milestone with me. It was because of you; a day didn’t pass by that I didn’t laugh. Even in the darkest moments, you have managed to put a smile on my face. You made my day a whole lot better just by snuggling up to me and being there when the world wasn’t.
Even though you couldn’t speak, your actions and eyes spoke a lot more than people around me. In a world where I was struggling to find my own place, you made me your priority, and for that, I’m ever grateful to you, and I miss you so much, Rookie. You taught me the truest meaning of faith and trust, patience and hope. You made me feel loved unconditionally every single time I was down, disappointed, and wasn’t doing great in life. I’ve had my big share of triumphs and failures, ups and downs, many uncertainties. But, regardless of what was happening, there you were, my furry little precious partner, set up to make my good days better and bad days, well, not so bad. You were literally always there.
You always slept right next to my feet, and you were always present whenever I ate. You always got so excited when I asked you if you want a treat, but you were picky; you only ate the treats from Trader Joe’s, and you would never take any treats from strangers.
I cherish all the cuddle times we had. God, I miss our cuddles. I keep your favorite stuffed animal which is a dog, right next to me in bed. It has your collar and tag. I can still smell you, and I would do anything to have you back right here with me. All in all, you were the most present part of my life. When bad things happened, you knew just what to do. You always knew how to make things better. You seemed to share both my joys and sadness, even when you couldn’t understand them.
It has been over 7 months since you passed away, and it still seems like yesterday. I miss you so much, Rookie, and there is not a day that I don’t think about you. There are days I feel so lost, and all I want to do is be with you. I know you are in heaven with Bella now, and Ruby and I are here. One day we will all be together, but for now, you are taking care of Bella, your little sister.
We got Bella in 2012 from Ken-mar rescue. It was love at first sight between you two. You both were a little shy initially, but it didn’t take more than a few days, and then you two would always lay next to each other.
Bella was a senior dog that had been dropped off at the shelter in Pasadena. She got rescued by Ken-mar, and I found Bella on their website. They had named her Aria, but I named her Bella when she came to live with us.
Bella was about 10 years old and a very happy girl. She loved cuddling and eating! She also loved car rides like Rookie. She didn’t love walking as much as Rookie and me, so a lot of times, I had to carry her when we went on our long hikes. She enjoyed me carrying her. She would always lay right next to me on the bed, usually on my pillow right next to my face. Bella was only with us for 4 years; she passed away in 2016. We had just had dinner, and we were watching some TV. Rookie was right next to me on the couch, and Bella was on the floor on her bed next to my feet. She is sleeping, and suddenly her whole body is convulsing. She is vomiting, and poop is coming out of her end. She is having a seizure. She is unconscious. I pick her up instantly and run to my car, holding her tight. I am not feeling a heartbeat. I hold her tight to me and whisper, please, please Bella stay with me; you can do it. Please, please, Bella stay with me; mama loves you… It only took 5 minutes to get to the emergency vet, and I rush in with Bella. The people there ask if they should try to retrieve her? I say yes, yes yes, do whatever you can to save her! I have to sign some paper, and they ask me for $500 before they will do anything.
They take her in, and 5 minutes later, they come out and tell me she is dead. I knew she was gone when I handed her to them, but I was hoping for a miracle.
I fell apart, and they take me into a room and bring Bella wrapped in a blanket to me. I hold her so tight and keep kissing her. She looks so peaceful, and I asked the vet. Are you sure she is dead? She didn’t look dead to me. She was so beautiful. I just sat there for an hour and held her tight to me. I even asked if I could take her home and bring her back in the morning. This was my first time losing a pet, and I had no clue how to deal with it.
I said my goodbyes, and it was time to get home to Rookie.
I walk in alone, and Rookie is right there greeting me at the door. I lay down on the floor, and he comes right over to me and smells my sweater that has Bella’s vomit and poop on it. He sits down next to me and looks at me like he had done something wrong. He looks sad and confused. I take the sweater off and hold him tight and tell him what happened. He keeps smelling the sweater. We go to bed, and he lays down next to me, right where Bella used to lay. I cry myself to sleep and hold on to Rookie all night. The sweater is on the floor right by the bed.
I don’t really know how old Bella was when I adopted her, but I think 10, so she lived until she was 14 years old. I miss Bella so much; she was so precious. She was my little angel.
The only thing that gives me comfort now is that Rookie and Bella are together, and they will be at the rainbow bridge waiting for me when it is my and Ruby’s turn.
Ruby, I adopted 4 months after Bella had passed. I saw a picture of her online, and she looked so much like Bella, and I was in love. She was all the way down in Mission Viejo. It took me 2 hours to drive down there. Rookie and I walk into the room where they are keeping Ruby. I sit down on the floor, and Ruby walks right up to me, Rookie smells her, and they seem to like each other. I notice that Ruby is just looking down, so I ask the lady if it is something wrong with her eyes. She said they didn’t know, but they would take her to a specialist and get it checked. I wasn’t worried about it and said I would take care of it. I had already fallen in love with her, and Rookie seemed happy too.
I got Ruby's story, and it wasn’t a pretty one.
Ruby had been a breeder dog all her life. They think she is 5 years old. But she could be much older too. She has literally been in a cage all her life just having puppies. She had never seen the outside; she had never walked on grass. She had never had a human love her. She had gotten very sick, and her breeder had no more use for her, so the breeder dropped her off at a shelter in downtown LA. The shelter saw that she was very sick, she had an infection in her uterus and abdomen, and she wasn’t doing well. The shelter would put her down, but a good soul at that shelter called CARMA rescue, and Ruby was saved. They took her in and operated on her and nursed her back to health. Thank god for Rescues.
The rescue lady told me that Ruby wasn’t eating much; she never jumped up on their couch or the bed at the rescue's home. She was very timid and needed a lot of patience and love.
On the car ride back to Los Angeles, I put Ruby on the front seat next to me. The first thing she did was stand up and look out the window. I roll down the window, and she sticks her head out. It was so cute. Then I put some kibbles in a bowl next to her, and she eats everything.
After an hour in the car, she wants to come over to sit with me, she jumps into my lap, and after a few minutes, she is sound asleep.
It didn’t take Ruby long to get adjusted. She ate more when we got home, and she went straight to ‘Bella’s bed’ and laid down. She jumped up on the couch and bed when I asked her. She seemed to find her way around the apartment, but I could tell she couldn’t see very well. We took her to the park, and she was very timid outside for maybe a month. She hardly wanted to walk because it was all new for her, and not see anything must be scary. I took her to my vet, and he said that she is going blind; she has mature cataracts.
After a month of going for walks daily 2–3 times a day, she finally started to feel that this was okay. The first time she rolled around in the grass, I almost cried. The first time she interacted with another dog at the park, I almost cried. It was so incredible to see this shy and fearful dog run around the park, playing with other dogs. It made my heart melt. This is why I rescue dogs.
Ruby has been the light of my life with Rookie and Bella.
I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have Ruby when Rookie passed away. All I can say is thank god she is here with me. She is my everything, and I am so grateful that she choose me that day when I met her for the first time. Maybe to her, I saved her. To me, she saved me.
Today it’s only Ruby and me, and we are staying with my sister at the moment, so I can’t adopt a sister or brother for Ruby just yet. But I think Ruby is happy being ‘the only child.’ She is very happy; she eats well, she is very healthy, except for being blind. She loves lying outside in the sun. That’s probably her favorite thing to do, to sun-tan. She sleeps a lot. She dances when it’s time to eat. She enjoys car-rides and always sticks her head out the window. Walking — Nah, not one of her favorites things to do, but mama likes to walk, so I always bring the dog sling carrier with me, so after a mile, when she is done walking, she gets a ride in the carrier. She loves it.
It’s so rewarding to give an unwanted or previously mistreated dog a chance at a happy life. So please think about adopting before shopping! If you ever need any help to find your next fur-baby, please reach out; I have many contacts with shelters and rescues. I am also in the process of setting up my own rescue.
Dogs Matter Rescue. In memory of Rookie and Bella.
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