A tribute to our very special family dog

Yesterday our family dog passed away. It is so much tougher than I could have possibly imagined.  This whole process has been a roller coaster.  On March 6th 2015 he was diagnosed with lymphoma and given anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 month longer to live.  Our hope was that he would live long enough to see our son who is working in Florida at Disney, he finishes there on May 11th.   He sadly passed away yesterday April 7, 2015.

Our time with Luke began back in September 2001, our children were 9, 7, 2 and 11 months and we had just seen the horrors of 9/11.  Aaron who was 7 and had been asking for a dog since he was two and when he asked again a short time after that awful day, we realized life could change so quickly and we should take the opportunity and get a dog.  We decided to go to the local shelter and start our search for a dog to add to our crazy bunch.  
So on one adventurous day I loaded up the children and went to the shelter in search of the dog that would be willing to put up with us.  I often tell people I am sure the people at the shelter thought I was crazy went I walked in with my mini crew, but they didn’t even blink someone took us to see all the dogs.  I was determined to get a girl because I said at the time I was outnumbered by boys, lol.  As we walked down the row of dogs I saw a sweet female lab that caught my eye, we kept walking and there near the end was the run with a group of puppies, Aaron’s face lit up.  I walked back to the lab and then back to the puppies, who by the way were all boys.  Aaron point in at one of the puppies and said he wanted that one and I asked him why and he said he waved at him.  Apparently this little guy had lifted his paw as if waving or as I see it as if saying, “pick me pick me”.  So we asked to see him and they took us to a pen to play and it was all over from there, we had to call Dave to come and see him.  See to me he picked us too or maybe he sacrificed himself to save his brothers from us, who knows, lol.  Did I mention he was the runt of the litter.  So so sweet.  He was a Terrier/Spaniel mix who grew to a nice 39 pounds.
This little dog joined our family and fit us so perfectly, he quickly learned to sleep through the night and was quickly house trained, not for our big effort of teaching him, as I am pretty haphazard when it comes to those things, he just got it and did it.  
Luke was such a kind and gentle dog, he put up with kids crawling on him, he loved playing with them.  My sister was saying how my nephew remembers how Luke would run and play chase with the kids.  He was gentle but also fierce, he would protect us with the such a fierceness, if someone came to the door he would snarle and bark up until one of us would say it’s okay that is….insert name…., then he would stop, if we didn’t know the person he would stand by our side snarling and barking.  At only 39 pounds his fierceness made him seem about 100 pounds.  He was as loyal as they come and put up with us even when we yelled at him.
When he was about 7 we brought home 2 tiny chihuahuas and he let us keep them, lol.  He tried to keep them in line, but he always treated them with love, even though they got the lion share of attention he was still as loyal as they come, we were his people and he was our dog and he knew it.
When he was diagnosed with lymphoma in early March I was determined to help him make it as long as possible and if at all possible long enough that Aaron would be home so they could see each other one more time.  Over the last month he had ups and downs.  One the first day we noticed he was ill it was so drastic, he had of course been aging, but this was different, he literally was running up and down the stairs on Wednesday and Thursday he moved very slowly and could not lift his head up straight, when Dave knelt to pet him and scratch under his chin, like he often does, he felt these two swollen lumps, due to the heavy snow our vet was not in that day so we brought Luke in on Friday, he was moving a bit better than the day before, she checked his temperature he didn’t have one and after a thorough exam he was diagnosed with lymphoma.  She gave him prednisone to help with the swelling.  We researched cancer diets for dogs, which there are and began following the one we found.  It seemed to help some but at about the 2 week point he grew a large lump on his shoulder, we thought we were going to lose him, my sister who loved him a bunch came to visit him just in case, but thankfully it was an infection and after a few days of the antibiotic he bounced back and was almost like his old self.   Easter was coming and my dad and stepmom who have always been Luke’s sitters when we would go out of town, he was their grand dog and they really loved him,  were coming over.  I had been telling Luke he would see them on Sunday. Friday he was running, playing with his stuffed bear and chasing after the little dogs, Saturday he seemed to slow down partway through the day but still eating, going outside when we would go for the door.  Then on Easter Sunday he started out very slow, he had a couple of accidents in the house and my husband just had this feeling he was nearing the end.  Later in the day he perked up a bit when he saw my parents.  On Monday we went to work and the kids said he was moving very slow but he did his best to get up and go outside for that whole day.  We contemplated on taking him into the vet to be put to sleep as we were concerned that he not be in pain, but moving him upset him, after a call to the vet she agreed, if he was resting comfortably let him be and we could try to find a vet to come to our home.  Alas both that I found could not come until later in the week.  I guess things happen for a reason.   I woke up a 3:00 am to what sounded like a whining, it was Luke.  I panicked and was so worried he was in pain but once I sat with him and pet him he calmed down.  He tried to once again make it outside, but he collapsed at the door, so there we sat with the door opened, I was afraid to move him.  Dave came down a short while later and had the common sense to put a blanket around him and slide him back into the kitchen, he did not cry out so the blanket had helped cushion him.  We spent the next couple of hours moving between the sofa and the floor in front of the refrigerator sitting and comforting Luke.  By around 7:00 Daniel woke up and came pet and loved on him and then Samantha came and loved on him.  He had theses episodes of like a mixed bark/whine and we worried again about pain, but us talking to him and petting him seemed to sooth him, but we decided we would prepare to take him in.  He had gotten sick on himself, so Dave suggested we wash him with a warm cloth.  We made a sponge bath for him and I had helped him shift to his side, this seemed to relax him, I began washing under his chin and then his paws, his breathing seemed a slow even pace.  At this point Dave, Daniel, Samantha and I were all around him, me washing him and them talking to him and me and just being with him.  Then all of a sudden we saw his head stretch back, almost as if stretching and then begin to release and we realized he was passing away.  The kids had to walk away, it was very upsetting to be losing him and know this was the moment, Nolan came up….we continued to sit with him and then he was gone.  The kids pet him goodbye.  I had to call Aaron, I wanted him to know right away.  I told him how it all happened, he said that was how it should be. 
This beautiful soul died surrounded by his family who truly loved I him, in his home where he had so lovingly and unconditionally loved us all, where he wrestled with Aaron, followed Nolan, Daniel and Samantha hoping they might get him a treat from the closet, the place he loved to be and being cared for by his people, the people whose side he stood by.  I knew that Aaron would have been the one who sat up with Luke through his last night and morning, since he could not be here we wanted to do that and make sure this doggie passed feeling safe and loved.  I am proud of my family for coming together to make his last hours full of love and support.  I am proud of Luke for being such a brave pup.
Today I am heartbroken as I let the little dogs out and see them outside without their protector.  He is missed and will be missed forever.
Peace and love,

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