Pink had her first breast cancer surgery five years ago. Her final cancer surgery was two months ago. In between were two more breast cancer surgeries, plus a really big one to take out an adrenal cancer in 2013. She was diagnosed at Stage 4 a couple of months ago when we got the pathology results on her latest mammary cancer. Stage 4 means that the bad cells have moved into other organs and in people that usually means incurable, even with chemo and radiation. If that weren’t enough her spine was partially fused from arthritis. Some days it hurt her too much to walk.
I have had mild chemo – didn’t lose my hair or puke – but it drained my energy. Radiation was much worse, but that was not an option for Pinkie. I was 57 when they therapeutically poisoned me. Pink was closer to 80. At Stage 4 there was no reason for poison. Wednesday we said our good-byes and Pink passed while we stroked her and told her the stories of her youth. Then she was gone to a kindly veterinarian’s euthanasia.
But we are here to praise Caesar, not to bury her. Pink had lived wild on the streets for months when the dogcatcher netted her, full of heartworms and ten pounds underweight. Who throws out a beautiful pure-bred dog? Somebody who won’t spend $600 on heartworm treatment. Pink deeply feared abandonment by us, her new people, every day of the last 8 years of her life.
After our first two Springers died we provided temporary homes for several Springer Rescue cases. Pink was our last. She was mellow and soulful, not a show-off, and aggressive only when alone with a bowl of food. She was with us five weeks before she first made a sound, yet Kat and I felt a connection with her early on. I have mentioned “my job was to keep her from over-exertion until the worm damage had healed; her job was to keep me from feeling too sorry for myself on chemo”. I did a pretty good job: she recovered full health. Pink did a superlative job: she brought me joy.
Everyone and everything has vices. Springer vices often include an irresistible attraction to water or mud, escape artistry, fondness for rolling in dung, and confusing skunks with cats. Pink had none of those. Her vice was a taste for cat cookies (don’t ask; imagine!) which she found readily with that great nose.
Kat’s brother who quit school after 3rd grade often said “That’s a smart dog!” Yes, she was. After months on disability I went back to work. Pink quickly realized that I got up most days just as the dawn broke. She became my alarm dog. She’d shake the assortment of tags on her collar until I crawled out. As weeks passed the sun rose earlier and she was waking me well before 6:00, even on Saturday and Sunday. I solved that problem by removing her collar at bedtime. That worked for one day. The second day she found the collar by my nightstand, picked it up in her teeth, and shook it good. She later figured out how to tell us “There ain’t no water in my bowl!” and make us laugh and fill it: she’d pick up the empty water bowl and throw it around. She was the master of begging and a talented consumer of leftovers. While she could run she loved chasing geese and squirrels, and hated anything with a shell. Land tortoises really lit her fuse, and she nearly dislocated my leash shoulder one night after spotting a rooting armadillo before I did. We were in Tucson our first year on the road pulling up to a red light when Pinkie blew a gasket barking at a guy on a motorcycle one lane over. His crime was wearing a helmet painted to resemble a snapping turtle shell.
Our buddy lives on in our hearts. In time her ashes will be interred in North Carolina next to Samantha and Nike, our other great Springers. From now on there will be only two fools chasing life along the blue highways.