Bubba, my big sweet bear who stole my heart
by Cecilia Wu
(Albuquerque, New Mexico)
My sweet Bubba
In October, we adopted a St. Bernard "Bubba" who was 4-5 years old. I saw a picture of him on the large breed rescue and fell in love instantly. Then, I went to pick him up in Colorado. He was so nervous, but came with me right away.
In the next few months, we hiked in the mountains, in the snow and had many great days. In fact, every day was great. He made me SO happy with his stringy ears, his droopy face, big happy panting, peanut teeth (as my husband called them, for he had oddly small front teeth).
He was the most conscientious dog I have ever met. He ate 3 cookies off the baking sheet one day (since his head was the height of the kitchen counter) and when I simply pointed at the missing cookies, he ran to the kitchen table and hid his big shaggy head under the table in shame. He made me laugh a million times and my heart was always full when I hugged and petted him. He loved sleeping on his back with all four paws in the air, especially since this was the prime position to receive a nice belly rub.
However, he soon was very picky about his food. I thought perhaps I was spoiling him with human food. I had been grilling tasty meats for our other dog who was dying of sarcoma (in fact, one of the reasons we decided to adopt Bubba into our lives), and I had been adding tasty sausages into Bubba's dish as well. I decided I would be tough and feed him only doggie kibbles.
Then, we went on vacation for 8 days and upon our return, Bubba was in horrible condition. His caretakers told me he refused all food. He had lost a huge amount of weight and was drinking/urinating like mad. I immediately took him to a vet for a full workup and the diagnosis was lymphoma.
I was so devastated. How could we have two young dogs with cancer? Our previous dog had just died 3 months ago, and now, my poor Bubba. We decided against chemotherapy because Bubba's condition was already advanced, and I doubt he could have understood or withstood the medication. I gave him steroids, and for a few days, he perked up and was his old self. But I knew the end wasn't far away, and when he lost continence, Bubba wouldn't come into the house because he didn't want to have an accident. When he did have one in the house, he was so ashamed and embarrassed.
On his last night, I spent part of the night with him outside and he slept inside with us for awhile even though he wet himself all night. He tried to clean himself and reluctantly came into the house. I told him over and over it was okay and that he was a good boy. The next day, we took him to the vet for euthanasia.
First, we gave him a "happy sedative," and oh boy, he was SO happy. We told him how handsome he was and what a good boy he was. He smiled, panted and gobbled down sausages and treats. Then, as he was gulping down treats, the vet gave him the lethal injection. He died in my arms in between bites of cookies. I believe his last thought was "Cookies!!"
I am having a hard time with this loss, coupled with the loss of our other dog. Ever since his diagnosis and now his death, I have been barely able to eat or sleep. Bubba stole my heart, and now, with him gone, I am finding it hard to talk to people without crying. I know that I am lucky to have had him though. In this world, where there can be so much darkness, I know that there are truly good, sweet, noble souls who are just pure kindness and goodness. Bubba was such a soul.
My grandmother told me that butterflies carry souls, and when I was sitting in the kitchen counter, a butterfly flew around the backdoor and my window. It is too early and cold for butterflies right now, and I know it is just a myth, but for some reason, I felt comforted that Bubba was okay.
Thank you for listening to my story.