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This is a story about Q, this man’s best friend. What I want to share with you, is not Q’s life story, although that would make for a very interesting book, he lived an amazing, but short life. I am no writer, and would surely not do him justice. What I will write about though is how Q lived out his last few weeks, how to the very end his energies were spent on making others happy. Hopefully I will be able to convey to you how Q had a plan for his last few weeks, which I did not know at the time, but which he carried out and when he was done, he let me know it was time to move on. Then even after he left us, he was able to reach back and let us know he was O.K. You see, I never had to make the decision of when to let my best friend move on without me, and although I knew I would have to make it, I hoped some miracle would occur that would spare me that decision. Q helped me out with that also. So, for those of you who have never had to face that most difficult of all decisions, but will have to in the future, may this story give you strength and wisdom when that time does come.
Before starting at the end, I must go back to the beginning and describe to you how I happened to be owned by Q. You see, I never wanted Q, in fact I went out of my way to say I didn’t want him. It was just after the Easter weekend, 1993 and my now ex wife had left me. A note was left on the kitchen table, her dresser draws empty and we were through. Over the next couple months, efforts at reconciliation were made but nothing worked. By the beginning of June I had lost my wife, house, and the two dogs we had shared through the marriage, but I had not lost all my friends. One special friend was Debbie Martin. I had meet Deb a few years back in a puppy kindergarten class. After the first class, Deb wished I never signed up, but that is another story, I will let her tell you that one. If anyone knows what type of dog a twelve-week-old none socialized Shiba Inu can be, you have an idea what I am talking about. Anyhow, Deb and I had become close friends over those years, and she was my unofficial counselor through my marriage break up. At the same time all this was going on Deb’s White Shepherd, Day had a liter of puppies. One in particular had got her attention, a male that was the last of the litter to be whelped, named Q by her sister-in-law, Michelle Martin, a Star Trek fan. Deb knew Q was special within the first few days. All the other puppies would follow him around, he was the first to explore new things, the first to venture where no puppy had gone before, and the first to come back and say "OK what’s next". From the time of their whelping Deb had been nagging me to come over and take a look at them, especially this one special one named Q. You see, at the time a White Shepherd was just another dog to me, and in fact I really didn’t like them. Day, Q’s mom, had been the only dog to ever put my first dog, Kushi, the Shiba Inu, in her place. Kushi, and all her eighteen pounds, had bossed around ever dog she had meet, including two adult, large GSDs, but not Day, Day had set her straight and in a way I resented her for that. During that time I was living with a co-worker from Dow, in a spare room in her basement. She had just got a dog, and was recently engaged and with me in emotional dysfunction I thought, "I can’t even take care of myself. How could I ever take care of a little puppy?" Well, thank God, Deb never gave up and persisted. Finally after weeks of Deb.’s persistence, and Q’s affection and tugging at my heart, I gave in and said yes. Actually when I first said yes, I only did it to get Deb. off my back, because I thought Jen, my co worker and landlord, would say no way, and that would get me off the hook. But Jen said, "great, he’ll be good for you", if only she had known how true that statement would end up being. I picked up Q the second last week of July. I thought to myself, "My God, do you know what you are doing? This is a life you are now responsible for, you can’t even take care of yourself, how are you going to do this?" I drove directly down to my parents in Windsor, Ontario and thought of not much else for the next two hours. When I got there of course my parents were thrilled and just loved Q. From the time I opened the car door to let Q out, he never was farther away then five feet from me. My Dad kept saying "What amazing dogs these white shepherds are. They never leave there owners side, just like a little duckling and its Mom." It was three or four days before Q ever had a leash on him, he would never let me out of his site, he had chosen me. That first night for a few minutes though I was ready to bring him back. After a long day I settled down into bed, with Q next to the bed in his crate. After about fifteen minutes he started whimpering and barking. "What had I got myself into?" I thought. How stupid of me to forget what it was like to have a puppy, and me living in a friend’s house. For sure Jen would kick me out with Q acting like this. For a few minutes I was convinced I would have to take him back to Deb. But I got up, turned on the light and talked to Q. I told him how I just couldn’t have him act like this, and if we were to stay together he would have to stop, or that is it. I took him out of his crate (big no, no), held him for a few minutes and put him back. That was the last time Q ever made a noise in his crate, and the last time I ever thought of him not being a part of my life. Over the next two weeks, we traveled a thousand miles, visited many friends. We went on elevators, boats, buses, into stores, apartment buildings, downtown city streets, swimming together, you name it we did it together. Q had become an inseparable part of my life. Five and a half years roll by in a blink of an eye. Q has changed my life completely, except where I work. Every friend I see regularly I would not know (with the exception of Deb) if it weren’t for Q. I spend almost forty weekends a year away from home, all from activities that Q has led me into. It’s early Monday morning, March 1st and I am getting read for work after a Flyball tournament in Chicago. It was the first one I had gone to without Q. Julie had scheduled him for his TDI (Therapy Dog) certification that weekend a few weeks back without realizing a Flyball tournament was scheduled. When we realized he was doubled booked, we both thought that him getting his TDI title was more important than a Flyball tournament, because there would always be more tournaments. When I got home early that Monday morning, Julie had left his test results out on the counter, and I read with great pride how Q had gained his TDI title. As I went to bed, he greeted me at the bedroom door and I patted him and shared in his pride, life was good. Upon waking wake up I went through my normal routine getting read for work and everything proceeded as they had for the last couple years. I awoke with Q sleeping next to the bed, on the floor, and as I exited the shower I found him curled up on my side of the bed with his head on my pillow. I sat beside him for a couple minutes, petting and talking to him and then got dressed for work. My normal custom just before I closed the bedroom door on my way out was to say "Q be a good boy today, and make sure you take care of everyone until I get back". With that Q would give me one last look with his charcoal dark eyes and I would head of to work, but this morning was different. As I was about to close the door, Q let out a deep sigh from across the room and my heart sank. I knew that sound. I didn’t want to hear that sound, I prayed no, but he wheezed again, and again. At this point let me regress a couple of months. Back in January Q had started wheezing, and a few weeks later he had put on sixteen pounds of fluid in a matter of a few days. He then spent three days at Michigan State University, fluid was drained from around his heart, lungs and abdomen and they preformed every test they could think of to try to figure out what was wrong, but found nothing. He returned to his normal self right afterwards and we thanked God he was healthy again. But that wheezing had come back. Have you ever had that feeling "This can’t be happening! This isn’t real!" That was what was running through me. I went to him, petting and talking to him, telling him "cut it out Q. This isn’t funny" but of course he couldn’t stop, the sickness had come back. That day was spent at my local vet’s first. Marcy, Q’s vet and a good friend ran some x-rays and found the lining of his heart to be enlarged. She immediately made an appointment for Q again at MSU and off we went again. We spent the rest of the morning and afternoon there while they ran tests. The echocardiogram came back showing a mass around the bottom of his heart, and they had drained a fair amount of fluid from between his heart and the heart lining. Q was in much better spirits. Back to his old self, or so I thought. That afternoon they suspected cancer, but I thought, "Sure, this is Q we are talking about. He’s been through this before. You run tests that are inconclusive and he comes home fine". I talked to him a lot that night on the way home, explaining to him how he needs to pull through this like the last time and that everything would be OK. Looking back I was really talking to myself, trying to convince myself Q would be fine. Q was simply being that good listener he had always been. I had always wanted a Q puppy, but up to this point hadn’t found the timing right. Some friends had been bugging me to get some of his semen collected and frozen, and although I had planned on doing it I didn’t think there was any rush. Well the next morning I called the Schultz Veterinary clinic and they were able to make an appointment that afternoon. At the time I didn’t sense the urgency, but when I explained the situation, they were able to get us in right away. We drove out to Mt Pleasant and had it done. They were great at the clinic and everything went well. On the way back we had to drive by MSU anyway, so we stopped in to get the test results, rather then calling when we got home. The vet came in and had a somber look on her face. The tests came back and this time they were not inconclusive, it was cancer. We spent about half an hour talking to the vet. They gave him one to four weeks to live. This type of cancer is a blood-based cancer and is very fast acting, and there is no known cure. The best they could of done is perform some very evasive surgery that would extend his life by one to three months. That time would be mostly spent recovering from the surgery, not a way to end the life of such a great friend. It wasn’t until the ride home that the reality of the situation sunk in, Q was dying. Not for all the money in the world, all the positive thinking, was there anything Julie or I could do. Q was going to leave us and we were powerless to do anything about it. The next three days were very emotional and trying days. All the thoughts, emotions, feelings and "what ifs" that over take you I can not even beginning to describe. Everyone was very supportive. I worked from home for a couple days just to be closer to him. We tried as best we could to keep our spirits up for Q’s sake, but we weren’t doing a very good job. We thought we were, but when we went and visited Deb., and Q got to see his Mom and sister one last time, I realized just how much we had been dragging him down. It was Friday night, Q and I headed out to Sarnia to see Deb and some close friends. As Q always did, he started to bark and get excited when we got within a few blocks of Deb’s house. That visit was what we both had needed. Deb cooked a great dinner, Q got to eat some great chicken, much more than his Mom or sister, which I think he rather enjoyed right in front of them. Some friends came over, we shared old stories, took videos with Q and threw toys around for him. For those of you who know Day, Q’s Mom, she is a very driven dog when it comes to her Kong, and rarely if ever does she allow another dog play with it in house. The Kong is Days! Q inherited the same trait from his Mom, but it was her house and she was Mom, so in her house, she ruled. As Q normally did he went for the Kong the first couple times. Day would give him the fuzzy eyeball look, Q would remember the rules and spend the rest of the night watching her intently chew on it. Well that night was different. Q went for it at first like he normally did the first few times, and Day responded as expected, but then something strange happened. After being there an hour or so, Day seemed to be holding back a bit. We would throw it for them, Q would come back with it, strange. The rest of the night Q owned that Kong. Day let him prance around with it, he would even walk in front of her, strutting like "Look what I have!" but Day did nothing. Q was a happy boy. We left late that night, driving home through a snowstorm. Q was obviously happier, but did Day know what was happening? Only she really knows. Saturday I spent talking to friends and family. My brother, Curtis, is into herbs and alternative medicine, so we planned on starting Q on a few different things to see if it would help. What did we have to lose? Q could still beat this. Sure, that is what will happen, he will still fool everyone. In the late afternoon a bunch of friends came over from the Ballistic’s Flyball Team. Q loved Flyball. All you had to do is mention the word and he would bark and start acting crazy, I guess you could say that was the most fun thing for Q to be doing, just being a dog and chasing tennis balls. We sat around, ate, drank and snapped a bunch of pictures. Q had a great time. Dropping his soggy tennis ball in everyone’s lap and everybody playing with him. By nights end he was exhausted, not from his illness, just from having so much fun. Before everyone left we squeezed in a few group pictures, Q smiling the entire time. The next day I drove down to Windsor to bring Q to see my parents. This is the first place that I had brought Q after I picked him up from Deb’s, it had seemed like such a short time ago. Q was in his element again, people petting him, playing with him and talking. If you didn’t know there was anything wrong with him, you would never guess, except for the tell tale sign of his chest being shaven. We got a few pictures of Q with the new addition  to the family, my two-week-old nephew, Wyatt. Q sniffed and sat patiently as we posed them together, just part of the job, I am sure he thought to himself. As we were about to leave my parents commented how down they had been about hearing the news about Q, but that seeing him again had cheered them all up and they were so glad we came. It was the second time in three days I had heard those words. Words that I would hear often for the next week and a half. That week saw many friends come over and visit with Q. When Q and I lived in Sarnia, we shared a condo with a friend and her dog. Kendra and Petra lived with Q and I for almost two years. Kendra had grown very attached to Q, she even got a puppy of Q’s and loves him dearly. The news about Q upset her a lot. She had spent a lot of time with Q, especially since I traveled so much with work. Everyday she would take Petra and Q down to the park, rain or shine and would let them run. Since then she had moved to Nova Scotia, which is almost as far east as you can go in North America. When she heard about Q she was able to book sometime off of work and drive here (29 hrs!) with her boyfriend and visit with Q. They stayed three days. Q had a great time and they were amazed how well he looked. They didn’t say it at the time, but afterwards Kendra mentioned they had noticed how his eyes weren’t as bright as she had remembered. Time was getting short, but all he wanted to do was keep playing. Chris (Kendra’s boyfriend) was amazed at how strong he was when he was playing tug, much stronger than Casper, Q’s son. They left on Friday, threw a stick a last few times and off they went. The day before turned out to be the last meal Q ate on his own. Once we knew he had cancer we put him on a special dog food for dogs that had cancer or heart disease. It only came in canned form, and since Q had never been feed canned food before, he just loved the stuff, initially. On Thursday though he only ate about half of it and by the next day he wouldn’t even smell it. So Julie, made up a dinner any dog would love, various meats, gravy, you name it, if it smelled good, she put it in there, and he ate it. Hurray!!! He is eating. Unfortunately though, by Friday afternoon, he was only nibbling at it and was more than happy to let one of the other dogs eat it. On Saturday we went and visited some more friends around Sarnia. He made his last trip out to HoofPrint farm. Well I was there I mentioned to John that Q had stopped eating. He gave me some venison hamburger and said "feed this to him, he will eat it!" So I took some home with me, got nothing to loose right? We stayed for a few hours, took some pictures with Q, and said goodbye. Q, and dogs in general are amazing when it comes to saying good bye. Q wasn’t excited or unhappy when it came time to leave, rather he had this ‘proud’ look about him. If anyone of you get a chance to see the pictures I took that day, you will know what I am trying to describe. He had this noble look about him, which he normally didn’t show in pictures, but did that day. I think it was his way of saying thank you to Lynda and all at HoofPrint for everything they had done for him. Sunday evening back at home I feed him a packet of the venison hamburger and he eat it down as fast as he could. For two days he wouldn’t touch a thing in a bowl, lunchmeat, bacon nothing, only if you hand feed him. But this meat from HoofPrint, he ate it as quickly as he could. That was the last meal he would eat on his own. The next day we tried giving it to him again, he looked at it, took a few nibbles and was more than happy to let Mandy eat the rest. Why did he eat it so enthusiastically yesterday? I think he knew were it came from, you might say I am reading to much into it, but he knew. On Monday I took him to see his vet, Marcy again. He was having trouble breathing. They did some x-rays, (poor dog he must have been getting used to the routine, I was starting to expect one night I would turn off the lights and see him glowing) and found fluid had built up between the lower parts of his lungs. We talked about his eating and Marcy, in her gentle way reminded me that time was short. She agreed to drain the fluid and they removed 400 mls that day. I picked him up and he was breathing easier. Marcy had asked if she could take him for a walk at some point a couple weeks ago and we set up a time for the next morning. The rest of that day Q was not in very good spirits. If he was a person I would say he was a bit on the depressed side, but I don’t know if dogs can have those feelings, I hope not. That evening Susan, from Massachusetts arrived. Q was very happy to see her. Q had spent many times out at Susan and Jim’s place. He had grown attached to them as they had to him. In a way their place was Q’s second home. He perked right up, we talked about things and Q was, or seemed, back to himself. Tuesday morning came and Marcy stopped by and picked up Q. She took him for a walk and had a great time. She commented how good he was and he seemed to have a lot of energy. In the afternoon, Susan and I took Q and her female to a vet and had her artificially inseminated. We didn’t want to risk doing it naturally, since Q’s strength was slowly leaving him. He thoroughly enjoyed himself at the vets, as you can imagine. The vet checked his count and it actually had gotten better, everything went well. That evening we tried to feed him, but again he only would take food from our hands. If it was up to him, I doubt he would of ate anything, but he didn’t want to let us down and did it more to please us, than from any urging within him. That night, which turned out to be his last, was not a good one. Q always started sleeping out on the bed and after about ten minutes would move to my side of the bed and spend the rest of the night sleeping on the floor there. Then when the alarm went off he would jump on the bed and when I went in the shower, he would curl up and put his head on my pillow and watch me get ready and leave for work. That night was different. He didn’t want to lie down. He would at my urging, but I am sure once I fell asleep he would get off the bed and stand at the bedroom door. I must have woke up five times that night, each time with him standing at the door. What could I do? I would call him to bed, he would lie down as I had asked him too and then I would wake up with him standing there again. I felt so helpless. I wanted to comfort him, but there was nothing I could do. Before I left for work, I woke Julie and told her to keep a close eye on him. I gave him a pat; told him to take care of everyone while I was gone and off I went. I had not been at work for more then a couple hours and I got a call from Julie, crying. Q had been going to the sliding door at the back and would not come back to her when she called, very uncharacteristic of him. She had called Joanne and told her what was happening. Joanne said he maybe trying to tell us it is time to go and don’t let him outside by himself. He may go away to die, she had heard of that happening to other people’s dogs, never to see them again, and not to let that happen to Q. I came home immediately. Q was not doing well. He was very tired, poor guy probably had not slept since the night before, more than 24 hrs and you could tell it on his face. I called Susan at the hotel she was staying at and left a rather emotional message that if she wanted to see him one last time she better come soon, his time was very short. She came over shortly afterwards and guess what happened? Q perked up. He wanted to play ball again. He had some spark in his walk and he cheered all of us up. I felt bad for leaving Susan the message I did, but I really thought this was going to be the end, but he didn’t think so. For most of the mid day we talked about Q stories, looked at pictures and threw the ball for him whenever he brought it to us. We took those last pictures with Q also. If you have seen them, you know what I mean when I write that he smiled almost right up to the end. They say a happy person is usually a simple person, finding joy in the little things in life. Q was definitely a simple dog, just being around the people close to him made him happy, he needed nothing else. We should all take a lesson from him. Susan had to go back to check on her dog, and Julie went out to do some shopping. Q and I were home alone. I talked to him a lot for that time, he would sit their cock his head now and then, like he knew what I was saying. Always though he would bring his ball to me to play, he did his best to keep me happy. At one point I called him, and again, and again and he didn’t come, strange. I looked for him and found him standing at the back door. I looked at him and said "O.K. If you go out there and lay in a corner,  I know what I have to do. If I need to, let me know buddy". With that I let him out and followed him. The yard was fenced and in his condition I knew there was no way that he was going to be able to get out. He walked out into the yard, took a leak, and then looked at me. I asked him "What do you want Q". He looked at a big ball that was lying on the grass and back at me a few times. It was a chewed up ball, but one that he had thoroughly enjoyed playing keep away with from the other dogs. I asked him "you want me to throw it for you?" With that his tail wagged and he went and got the ball and brought it over to me. For the next few minutes we played together. He would run after it, pick it up and walk back slowly to me, drop the ball in my hands and get read for another throw. One time though he dropped the ball about five feet from me. "Come on Q, bring me the ball" I asked. He just stood there and looked at me. I asked him a couple times, but he didn’t move. He then looked at the house, then me and then the house again. "You want to go in buddy?" His tailed wagged and as I stepped for the house he started walking back with me. Then I realized why he had stood at the door and didn’t come when I called him. He wanted to play ball one last time with me. He knew his time was growing short. A short time later I picked up the phone and called Marcy. I asked her if she could stop by after work and check on him and if there was anything she could give him to help him sleep that night. I was sure if we could get him to sleep, he would feel much better, it had been so long since he had laid down and slept. She asked me if I wanted her to bring the ‘stuff’ in case it was time, but I couldn’t answer her. She said she would stop by around 7:00. We tried to get Q to eat, but he wasn’t interested. We gave him a cooked T-bone steak, he nibbled at it for a moment or two and then walked away. Julie had bought him some lunchmeat and other good smelling stuff, hoping that would stir his appetite. He would take one or two little nibbles of lunchmeat from my mouth, but that was it. He no longer showed any interest in food, just his toys and us. Marcy arrived and checked him out. He wasn’t doing good, not that we didn’t already know that. His breathing was becoming shallow, probably due to the pressure of the fluid building up around his heart and lungs. She asked if I wanted to let him go now, but I couldn’t do that. He still wanted to play ball, he still followed me around the house. I know how so tired he was, but he was still Q, I just couldn’t. She gave us some sedatives, to help him sleep. He will feel better know I know it. Marcy left, and some relief came over me. Not tonight, his time is has not arrived yet. Julie had bought him a new toy earlier in the day. We played with him for a short time. I took what turned out to be the last video of Q. While I was recording the ‘five minutes of tape left’ warning flashed across the camcorder screen. "Why now?" I thought. I had been recording using the same tape for over two weeks and it is coming to an end now? That was the first of a number of strange coincidences that would occur over the next 24 hrs. A short time later I gave Debbie, his breeder a call to let her know how he was doing. While I was talking to her, Julie was sitting on the couch across from me. I noticed that she started crying. Not that, that was unusual as of late, we both had our moments. I looked over to where she was looking, Q was standing near the couch. I watched as he tried to lie down. As his chest touched the ground, he let out a gasp, almost like he was choking. He tried his best to breathe, but he just couldn’t catch his breath while he was lying down. Julie cried, "we can’t let him suffer like this". She was right. He was to special to be allowed to suffer like that, there was no purpose and no hope in his pain. It was time. I quickly ended the phone call with Deb, I didn’t tell her why. I am sure she must have sensed it, but I didn’t want to say it before it was done.  I called Marcy and apologized for bothering her again, but if she could come back over and help us say good bye. While we were waiting for Marcy, Julie had an idea to put his Flyball collar on him. That was a good idea, since he truly enjoyed playing Flyball and we hoped that little act of putting his collar on him would lift his spirits, even if it be just from a memory. We looked for that collar for over half an hour, we could not find it. The last time he had it on was during his Therapy Dog certification a few weeks back, we have a picture of him with it on at that time. To this day we still have not found that collar. Not sure why, we know it is around, maybe on the day when it shows itself again, we will understand why we have not been able to find it. The next twenty minutes I had thought about many times since Q had come into my life. What would be the circumstances, why, were and when. I always thought this would happen when he and I were older, like 2005 or even later, after a long and happy life. I never expected it would come so quickly. We cleared a space on the living room floor and spread out a blanket to lay Q on. Q was standing there as we moved things around. He had become so tired. I can not put in words to describe just how quickly he went down after the sun had set. It is eerie to see t he change so quickly. He stood there, if you can call it that, as Marcy described how the next few minutes would go. She then asked, "Is there any last things I wanted to do with Q before we proceeded"? That day Julie had given me a brochure about losing a pet and things to do when the loss isn’t a sudden one, as in Q’s case. One suggestion it had was take your friend to a place with just you and him and say your last good byes in private. I called Q to come over to me to lead him back to the bedroom, but he wouldn’t move. I called him again and he didn’t budge. My heart was just tearing at this point. I thought to myself "Q, I don’t want to do this, but I have too. I would give anything to not have to do this". I thought he knew what we were going to do to him and he didn’t want to go. I walked over and took him by the collar, not his Flyball collar, but another he wore a lot when we went places together and lead him to the bedroom. There I sat him down and talked to him for a little bit and made a couple promises and asked him to forgive me for what I had to do. While I was talking to him, he kept looking away from me, he would not look at me at all. Again the reason’s running around in my head and heart as to why he wouldn’t look at me. But plead with him as I did, he wouldn’t even turn his face towards me. Finally I grabbed him by the checks, and said, "Q look at me, PLEASE!" With that, he allowed me to turn his face and look him in the eyes. At that point I understood. At that point I felt the pain he had within him. His eyes were cloudy, not sharp and dark like they had always been. There was a sense of distance and pain in his eyes I had never seen in him or anyone before in my life. I don’t know how else to describe it, but I will never forgot that look in his eyes. Some people have explained that look as that of him already leaving, he was already on his way out of this world to the next. That maybe so or not, but the sense I had at that moment is that he didn’t want me to see him like this. He didn’t want me to know the pain and suffering he was experiencing, he didn’t want me to suffer or be unhappy. He was being Q, right to the end. At that moment I also knew why he didn’t come when I had called him. He was not unlike a once proud man who had gotten feeble in his old age and didn’t want to see anybody near the end because  that is not how he wanted to be remembered. I hugged him one last time and told him his job here was done, it was time to leave now and to go to a much better place. I lead him back to the living room and then Julie took him back and talked to him for a minute in private. Marcy had gotten everything ready and we asked Q to lay down. At first he didn’t, but then reluctantly he did. We placed him carefully on his side on the blanket. I held his head in my one arm while I slowly stroked his head and talked to him. Julie sat next to him on the other side and petted his side. At the time I didn’t realize it, but afterwards we realized that while he was laying down, which was for a minute or so, he never gasped for air, or even gave any indication of having difficulty breathing, whereas thirty minutes ago he couldn’t lie down for a few seconds. He knew it was time, and he was at peace with it. He had given up the fight and was ready to move on. As Marcy gave him the injection we talked to him, reassuring him how much we loved him. That is was OK to go, we could now take care of ourselves and that we would be following him at some point, so don’t worry, we will meet again. Marcy listened to his heart and said he had gone. Just as she said that, a breath exhaled from his mouth.  I replied "He is gone?" and she said yes. The exhale had startled me some because I wasn’t expecting it. Maybe it was just the air in his lungs leaving for the last time, or as I prefer to think of it as, his spirit leaving to move on. For the next ten minutes or so we talked to him and petted him. He was so peaceful, no more pain, no more heavy breathing, Q was finally in a better place, although a place were we couldn’t go to be with him any longer. The three of us picked him up in his blanket and carried him out to Marcy’s car. We said good bye one last time, gave him a hug and watched Marcy drive away. We walked back into the house. It was so quite. Mandy had not made a noise once the entire time, very out of character for those of you who know her. As we sat down Julie pointed to the candle. On the previous Monday I had bought a large white candle in a glass jar that had three wicks and had kept it lit for the last few days for Q.  Julie remembers looking at it as she opened the door as we took Q out to the car and all three wicks were burning. Now, only one was, two were out. We looked at each other. It was as if Q had blown two of them out, but left one burning to let us know he had moved on, but part of him would always be there with us. That was the first, of a number of signs that I can not explain logically, but what I do know for sure happened, and if they hadn’t happened to me I would be at the least skeptical of them. That night neither Julie nor I slept very much. The night was one of the windiest nights I remember occurring in Midland. The wind howled all night, the vent dryer flap, rattled on and off all night creating even a loader racket. All I kept thinking was, if we had gave Q the tranquilizer to try to get him to sleep, I doubt it would have worked, it was just so noisy and windy outside. In that way I was relieved he had left that night, because for sure he would have only suffered more. As the sun rose I laid in bed, praying, begging that there was someway that Q could let me know he was OK. What if I was wrong? What if had made the wrong decision, that there was no "better place", no ‘Rainbow Bridge’? What if Q was simply dead? I really started doubting my actions that previous night and myself. I pleaded with Q and the powers to be if they could hear me, to give me a sign, somehow, someway. "Q just do this last thing for me" I kept saying to myself. As I went into the bathroom, I looked out the window, as I had done for the last four years and I couldn’t believe what I saw. I rubbed my eyes and got my glasses. I think I now know what people feel like when they see a ghost, a good ghost that is. On a fence board, at the bottom, a picture of a happy, smiling dog’s face is imprinted in the grain of the board. This isn’t just a couple knots thrown together that if someone tells you what it should look like you see the picture, but a real happy face of a dog smiling. People I have shown it to get the same look on their face as I must have had that morning. Q had sent the sign I had asked  him for. It was hard that day, and for many days after, but I would think of that smiling face on that fence and things would be better. I am not about to tell anyone that magically that face appeared that night, even I have a very hard time with that. But what I can tell you is the following: Julie and/or I walked within feet of that fence board every few days for years, never noticing it before. It was in the area that the dogs relived themselves in and so we were out there often picking up after them. Every day that I got up in the morning and it was daylight out I would look in the direction of that fence board, never noticing anything about it before. Was that image there the night, day or week before? I would say probably yes. But was it coincidence that I just happened to notice it that morning, of all mornings? I think not. That day I talked to my sister and let her know that Q had passed on. My sister, Corina, is into alternative medicines and forms of healing. She had taken a two-week class a couple years back called ‘Body Electronics’. In short it is a way of healing you and others through meditation via connecting with the affected entities spirit. Since Q’s first bout of retaining fluid in January, Corina had been helping him out via this method every three or four days. She would meditate and ask Q’s spirit if he needed help and what type of help could she provide. She said she never had any trouble connecting with Q’s spirit and he always asked for energy and strength, which would be manifested by a warm breeze Corina felt across her hands. At times she said it was almost painful, like a burning sensation. The last time she had contacted him was on the Thursday. She went through the same thing she had done many times before, got in contact with Q and asked him what he needed. However this time, instead of a warm breeze, she felt a cold wind across her hand. Of course, while listening to this on the phone, my heart sunk, think the exact same thing you are at this moment. Corina though calmly continued her story. She had never felt this before and in her class she was told if you receive a message you can not interrupt, stop and ask the spirit to help you understand. So she did and this is what she sensed back from Q. She said he thanked her for all that she had done for him. But his time and work here was done and he had completed all he had to do. He no longer needed her help and it was time for him to move on. As she told me this, of course I was touched, but to be honest I didn’t believe it completely. I believed my sister believed it, but how could that be possible? After the call I told Julie the story. As I told her she got quite and just listened. When I was done she asked me "Do you remember the last day Q ate a meal on his own?" I said "late last week". "Last Thursday", she replied. "The same day Corina had that experience with Q." Again was it coincidence or not? Later that day I talked to my Mom and let her know what happened. She told me about a dream the night before. In her dream she saw her Dad, walking up to my house. My grandfather had passed away back in 1976. He was a farmer and had always loved animals. He would always take time to give a horse or dog a pat and my mother told me he had a certain way with animals, they always seemed at ease around him. In her dream, he came to my house and took Q for a walk. Was her dream just a dream? Or was it what really happened. How would she have known this? I wish I had all the answers, I don’t. The final two coincidences were when I had Q collected, the vet sent in a DNA sample to ensure a positive match can be made to him via his puppies in the future. I received his DNA profile and certificate in the mail a few weeks after, the date the certificate had stamped on it, March 17, 1999. The day Q died. Then, 60 days after Q died, he fathered his last litter, five healthy boys. Whelped on May 17, 1999. My take on all this is that our friends are not just ‘dogs’. They are individuals, beings with a soul. Each one is special and has a special purpose. I was so lucky that this soul, Q, picked me to spend his time here with. I can’t answer why then doesn’t everyone have these ‘experiences’. I can only relay what I have experienced. Maybe it was  because Q was special. Not that he was any better than any other dog. But that Q had a special connection to many  people. Not with just a couple, but with many people. He had a way of connecting with people, even total strangers, especially kids. Many of you who were lucky enough to know Q have told me this. There are some dogs out there that bond very closely with heir owners, but rarely is there one like Q, that bonded with so many. Maybe because of this bond, this connection with so many people, was it possible that he was able to get so many things done and see so many friends in his last few weeks? I will probably never know for sure, until I meet him again. My purpose for telling you all this is two fold. One, to share Q’s last weeks with you, I was lucky enough to be owned by him, but he owned many other people in a small way and would be happy to know that his story may help someone out in some small way. The second is for those of you who have not yet gone through the pain and doubt that comes with having to say good bye and let a best friend go. Listen to your friend, learn from them and pay attention. They will let you know when it is time, all you have to do is listen, don’t be selfish to your own longings. Allow them to help you one last time in one of your most difficult decisions. For death is just another event to life, just as necessary as birth is. To enter a room, you must exit one. Our dogs know that so much better than we do. That is the end of my story about Q. Although he no longer is with me here to throw a ball to or greet me at the door when I come home, he is with me in spirit where ever life may take me. As my Mom told me afterwards "Q may have not lived very long, but he was a wise old soul".
  Content copyright 2016. White Shepherd Genetics Project. All rights reserved.
Q’S STORY