My Shadow Terah
by Dr. & Mr. F. Silva
Despite her breed being known as a "killer" breed of dog, our Rottweiler Terah was anything but one. She didn't have a mean bone in her body. She loved everyone, and they loved her. Our four cats that lived with her could attest to that. When our cat Patches moved to eat out of her bowl one morning, Terah was at a loss as to how to handle it. She glanced around nervously and in the end let Patches eat some of her food and walk away.
In January 1997, we adopted this tiny brown and black bundle of female fur. She was one of six puppies. On that first night, she quickly learned how to give my husband kisses to his face with endless licks. That sealed the deal for us.
We hadn't any idea what to name her, but after a few nights in our home, we decided to name her a combination of Tara (which we liked) and "Terror," because she was a wild little thing. For the first few nights, she was kept in a crate, but couldn't stay there alone because she kept crying endlessly. She was the youngest of the four dogs we owned at the time, so we put her in the garage/yard with them. She also grew up with 4 housecats and loved them all.
I called her my shadow because whenever I was home, no matter where she was comfortable, she'd get up and follow me around, even if it meant going up and down the stairs a dozen times. I used to sing to her the "Me and my shadow" song because it fit.
Despite living with us for over twelve years, she had a rough life, especially near the end of it all. It began in 2004 when her older brother, our male Rottweiler, Thor, died from a burst ulcer at 12, followed a few months later by the death of her older sister, our black lab mix, Rene, from lymphoma.
Poor Terah was devastated. She had been part of a pack, never alone and suddenly she was. She quickly became depressed and her appetite decreased. We knew we had to do something, but instead of looking for a puppy, we went to the local animal shelter and adopted a mellow husky/shepherd mix named Mook. Sadly, Mook preceded Terah in death just a few months before in October 2008. Terah again was devastated, but we did our best to fawn over our baby girl.
Just a month before Mook's unexpected death from lymphoma, Terah had undergone major surgery to remove a suspicious large mass in her abdomen that fortunately just turned out to be a dead right kidney. She came home sore, but gained years back, as if she were a puppy again. From the trauma of the surgery, she developed Irritable Bowel Syndrome and had to be fed a home cooked diet.
On December 22, 2008, she lost her older sister, our cat Patches, to kidney failure. In January 2009, she woke up in extreme all over body pain, which necessitated a trip to the vet. He diagnosed arthritis, and sent her home with a pain reliever and NSAID, which worked well immediately, but the NSAID caused severe diarrhea. The replacement one worked for a few days; she was like a puppy again, bounding about the back yard in the snow.
But something just wasn't right with her back legs. They were weak and were going out from under her whenever she stood still. One day in the kitchen, she slipped on the floor and wouldn't get back up until we readied to go to the vet. X-rays were taken and showed lumbosacral stenosis, a narrowing of the nerve to her hindquarters. This meant that she'd eventually lose all motion in her hind legs, but we could deal with that. In our research, we discovered that lots of animals get around happily in a wheelchair, so we prepared for that. At least she was okay otherwise. The vet promptly put her on Prednisone to see if it would help with the inflammation and obvious pain, confident that it would.
Unfortunately, her legs quickly worsened from the point where she needed some help up and down stairs to the point when she couldn't walk at all. Thus, under the direction of the vet, we decided to do Adequan injections, which according to the vet should have worked, but didn't. We suspected something else could be going on and ordered lab work.
Sadly, the tests showed an extreme drop in her platelet count, showing a form of leukemia in her system. The specific kind of cancer could only be confirmed by an extremely painful bone marrow test and the prognosis wasn't good at all. Our main goal was to not let her suffer in any way, and as long as she was happy and comfortable at home with us with the pain pills working, we'd take what we could get. She deserved that.
A few days before her death, she developed croupy breathing and coughing. Taking her in for followup lab work on Saturday a.m., she was checked over and was diagnosed with a bit of pneumonia and sent home with an antibiotic. By that Wednesday night, the 25th of February, she had difficulty breathing and was clearly in discomfort, all the typical signs of pneumonia.
As a result, I decided to sleep on the floor with her. I knew she had to be scared of not being able to breathe normally. She died around 0330 am on Thursday, February 26, 2009, taking in her last breath while I slept alongside her.
The vet diagnosed the coughing and croup as pneumonia. We believe that the cancer had spread to her lungs, which makes sense. It doesn't matter now what killed her. All we know is that she is gone. We try to take solace in the fact that she is at peace, but mourn over the loss of her from our hearts and home. From the time of the initial diagnosis until her death was a mere 22 days.
And though, she may have been just over 12 years, she was always be a puppy to us, our little baby girl. And even though she may have been a little terror when she was a puppy, she turned out to be one of the best dogs we have ever known.
We love you, Terah. Our lives will never be the same without you. Sleep well, baby girl. Rest in peace. You deserved so much better. Thank you for being a part of our lives. It's not fair that Rottweilers get such a bad rap. You and Thor proved them all wrong. It's all how you raise the dog to begin with.
I'll miss you following me around the house, baby girl. I'll miss your bark, and your wagging little stub, and I'll never stop humming our song "Me and my shadow."